Women’s Formators Convention – Apr. 2010 – Mater Ecclesiae College – Rhode Island
Thinking about this day of formation brought me to think about some other aspects of the convention which were rich in contribution to the formative benefits and graces we received at Mater Ecclesiae College in Rhode Island in April 2010. As a first-time participant, I entered the event with little more than openness to the particular graces that God wanted to stir in our hearts, minds and apostolic spirit. After all, why would we go so far to attend? Amid the great crowd of chatting women at the first reception, one thing was for sure — this was not a silent spiritual exercise!
The greeting we received from Sonia and Eleanor and other Consecrated Women was really striking. It was as if we were the only guests arriving and they seemed overjoyed to see us – really amazing when there was so much work ahead and so much to tend to in just the food detail alone!
All the time we were there, it was as if the Consecrated were on a quest to discover every detail of help we might need in carrying things, directions, guidance, discussion or chats – in the hallway, by the kitchen, the chapel – anywhere and everywhere. One particular conversation I remember was with a beautiful young woman from Mexico who related a bit of her vocational story, the experience leading her to the college which was so far from her home. When I asked her what she felt, in family life, makes the biggest impact on the children, she said – “your testimony” – and I have to say that being immersed in the home and life of these Consecrated Women left no doubt as to what our testimony of love to our children should be. Experiencing their example was a first-hand lesson in detail!
The convention, itself, was a live cross-section of so many women from so many places all over North America – of so many ages and walks of life – yet all just like us, from parishes with characteristics like ours. The various individual presentations by each group over an evening showed that the challenges of apostolate, the search for new Regnum Christi leaders and members, the obstacles and opportunities faced, were the same for all of us. Some women were on their own, trying to break ground for Regnum Christi. One had been part of a large thriving Regnum Christi community that had experienced great losses due to being remote from the main centers and short of strength and guidance to bear the blows of the scandal. But this woman was there to rebuild – to take back resources and actual hope and promise for more support in the future for the community – and she received it!!
Seeing the apostolate life of each group sent a message strong and clear about just how powerful and strong the church can be by the presence of the very same apostolates in so many parishes, making the church consistent, united and strong across nations. You could see that apostolate work was a means for these women to give love to their parishes.
There were several other personal accounts of graces and revelations received which I can’t put into words, except to say that these, too, often came through ordinary encounters and conversation, perfectly placed by God’s providence around and amid the scheduled events and travels. Finally, I really marvelled when, even in the last moments of departure, I noticed a very young Consecrated Woman dusting the detail of the chair rail in the corridor. “Still working”, I said. “Oh, yes”, she replied with an unmistakable joy-filled smile. Nothing could have summed up so clearly the message of love that we came there to receive and the charge we have to give the same to others.
These “in between” moments form a talk in themselves. The beautiful part about that talk is that it is individual to each participant – through their personal encounter with Christ through others – God’s personal message prepared for you. I hope you are all able to attend such an occasion in the seasons ahead!