.- The Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist have announced the dates for this year's 24-hour discernment retreats for young women. The rapidly growing religious community says that the current average of participants is 100 per retreat and that they continue to see a steady uptick in interest.
When the community's vocations director Sister Joseph Andrew Bogdanowicz was asked what it is that attracts women to travel from all over the world to attend a 24-hour discernment retreat, she gave a simple answer.
“Between you and me?” she asked. “All night Eucharistic Adoration.”
The weekend schedule is void of anything but the barest of essentials: arrival, talks, prayers and dinner, a game called “White Elephant,” a Holy Hour, Confession, Adoration, Mass and a Rosary for priests.
Summing up her experience, one retreatant commented, “The whole thing constantly tugged the strings of my heart.” “The Lord brought me closer to Him and drew me in. It was not just one thing that did this, but many… .”
Other women pointed to the sisters' contagious joy. “Joy seems to be the nature of the Sisters,” one retreatant wrote. “It shows forth in their constant and contagious smiles…”
With an average age of 26, the sisters manage to keep the young women on their toes, even when they themselves are outnumbered.
And outnumbered they certainly have been. Sister Joseph Andrew estimates that over 4,000 women have made the retreats in the past 12 years, the current average being 350-400 per year.
From there, the sisters send out the women to various communities if they have a call to the religious life. “All we want for anybody is the will of God, no matter what that is. That is what the Church today needs – saintly women willing to embrace whatever God’s will for them might be,” explained Sister Joseph Andrew.
“We send young women on to a variety of solid religious communities if we think that their vocation seems to be tending in that direction,” Sister Joseph Andrew said.
Although sending young women away is hardly what you might call a recruitment strategy, it works pretty well for these sisters – 17 young women entered this August, bringing the community total up to 99. “Our God is a God of surprises,” the vocations director laughed.
For each of the last 12 years, the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist in Ann Arbor, Michigan have held three 24 hour discernment retreats for young women, each attracting over 100 participants. This year’s retreats will be held November 7 – 8, February 20 – 21 and May 22 – 23.
For more information, visit: http://www.sistersofmary.org/category.php?id=133