Women's Advent Retreat, A Call for Joy in the Midst of Stress

By Katya Fitzpatrick

More than 170 women took a break from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season to slow down and recharge their batteries at the Women's Advent Retreat held at St. Mary's, Hamburg. The event was held on Saturday, December 16th and was organized and sponsored by the Bishop's Commission for Women in partnership with the Catholic Women's Society of Giving.

Those in attendance were grateful for the opportunity to once again focus on the real meaning of the Advent and Christmas season. "I felt I needed it," said Mary Grace Rugh of St. Ignatius, Reading. "I'm hoping to go home with a peaceful mind and peaceful heart. There really is no other reason for the season than baby Jesus. So, it makes sense."

Expectant mom, Sarah Sullivan of St. Columbkill, Boyertown, was overjoyed to share the retreat experience with three of her friends, "It's a nice time of year to be expecting and thinking about what Mary was going through. The patience and the waiting and the reflecting on the blessings that God gives us during this time."

Keynote Speaker, Father Stephan Isaac, Chaplain at Allentown Central Catholic High School and Assistant Pastor at the Cathedral of St. Catharine of Siena, Allentown spoke about "Joy in the Midst of Stress."

"Advent is a period, the Church tells us, is a time for devout and joyful expectation," said Father Stephan as he opened his talk. "So, what is joy? Joy is one of the twelve fruits of the Holy Spirit indicating the presence of God within our soul. The indwelling of the most Holy Trinity within our soul. But I think we have a conception of joy that may not be fitting to how the Church or how the Lord has revealed joy to us."

Father Stephan went on to explain how the saints that came before us found joy in some of the most dreadful circumstances and we too can find joy amidst life's everyday challenges. "Although joy is described as a spiritual feeling, joy can be stable unlike other feelings because it's rooted in love and love is meant to be stable. It's a stable disposition of the will where we freely seek the authentic good of the other and we freely open ourselves in response to God's grace to receive all of the love that is God."

The women were reminded to regularly go to confession, to seek the Eucharist in Adoration and in Communion. Plus, to make time for daily prayer. The four-hour event included refreshments, a basket raffle, and wrapped up with Mass.


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