Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Marsaia Kaster shares on her experience at the SEMO Busy Student Retreat at Cape Girardeau, Missouri.
Cape Girardeau, is a beautiful, modest-size, port city situated directly on the west edge of the Mississippi River in southeast Missouri. The historic city of 39,200 citizens is home to many famous people. It is also home to SEMO, the Southeast Missouri University, attended by to about 11,500 students of whom about 1000 are Catholic.
There is a vivacious, faith-filled group of young Catholics at CCM (Catholic Campus Ministry) at SEMO. Father Patrick Nwokoye, the chaplain at the youth parish of St. Thomas Aquinas, challenges and supports the students to grow and to open their hearts fully to Christ. Several kinds of retreat are made available to the students during the school year. I was happy to help with a Busy Persons’ Retreat there recently. Retreat began with directors meeting briefly with retreatants after the Sunday, evening Mass and closed with a noon Mass on Friday.
I very much enjoyed working with Father Patrick and with the three other retreat directors; a Dominican priest from Chicago, a Franciscan brother of Mother Angelica’s Knights of the Holy Eucharist from Waverly, NE, and a Glenmary Sister from MO. Each of us had seven or eight retreatants assigned to visit with us each day. I was so impressed by the serious and rich spiritual life of each of the young women with whom I worked. To hear them speak of the Lord’s powerful actions in their lives, their love for scripture, for adoration, for confession, was awesome. The word I heard them say most often was “surrender”, how they desire to surrender totally to God’s will in all things regarding their personal choices, daily or long term.
On Wednesday evening there was an enjoyable and informative presentation on discernment of spirits by a Sister Karolyn. On Thursday evening we all attended a Knights of Columbus gathering and meal, and shared short talks about our vocations/congregations. And each evening Father made sure that we had a healthy meal and stayed far away from Walmart (which he informed us, was a dangerous place at night!)
Another part of the ministry that I enjoyed that week, was the privilege of choosing, leading music, and playing piano for liturgy. Father Patrick, the students and the people associated with the youth parish of Saint Thomas Aquinas chapel at Cape Girardeau are gracious, friendly and love to sing!
It was an adventurous week! A privileged time! Thanks to God and so many others!”
THE REST OF THE STORY?
The rest of the trip to MO was wonderful as well! Sisters Antonice and I travelled to St. Louis. To be with Srs. Sue Ann and Delores and to enjoy seeing their ministry was a dream too good to be true! All four of us enjoyed it immensely!
While I went to Cape Girardeau for the Busy Persons’ Retreat, Sr. Antonice stayed on at Our Lady of Guadalupe Convent for the week, helping out and taking part in every way with the Sisters there. When I returned to St. Louis on Friday evening I could see that departing on Saturday would be a little bit sad. It had been such a great visit for all. And Sisters Sue Ann and Delores are so joyful, relaxed and peace-filled!
Veering off a little, Sisters Antonice and I went to the Poor Clare Monastery in Kokomo, Indiana to visit Mother Miriam and the Sisters there. The Poor Clares celebrate their 60th year of founding in March this year! It was a blessedly fun recreation with the Sisters that evening and a good sharing the next morning.
The trip back to Manitowoc in Sunday, Feb. 24th. was peaceful in spite of the fact that traffic for the last 10 miles of the journey was at a snail’s pace, because of sheer ice on the highway. Just go very slowly, put warning lights on, watch carefully and pray for all travelers! “Safe home!” Thanks, God, for the amazing days!