By Tese Currie, SHCJ
The EcoSpirituality retreat that took place at the Saint Raphaela Center in Haverford, PA, from June 14 -19 drew 19 Sisters of the Holy Child Jesus and two Associates as participants. The director, Fr. Terrence J. Moran, was known to many because of retreats he had given at the Convent of the Holy Child in Rye, NY and at Holy Child Center in Rosemont, PA (as well as others all over the globe). He had chosen the title based on a quotation from the Foundress of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, Cornelia Connelly: “I am Cosmic and the Universe is my home.”
He had thoroughly prepared his material in order to expand on this statement and help us deepen our appreciation for the care of creation as the context for living our SHCJ mission: to help others to believe that God lives and acts in them and in our world, and to rejoice in the divine presence.
From the opening session on, we were amazed at Fr. Terry’s grasp of Cornelia’s life and spirit and his masterful manner in illuminating her story through the unfolding of the universe story. We were all engaged in the process which included daily verbal and media presentations, rituals, faith sharing, quiet reflection and daily Eucharist. We appreciated Terry’s humor, ability to use what he learned about us, the Sisters of the Holy Child, in his examples, and well-prepared handouts. We listened to one another and to the earth in this sacred space of tree-filled grounds and the chapel with windows bringing inside the natural beauty of the surroundings.
The first day was devoted to finding both our home and God in the universe story. Two whole days were devoted to Cornelia in a cosmic lens with a focus on eight of her virtues: trust, simplicity, accepted suffering, reverence, zeal, discerning love, steadfastness and joy.
On Thursday, a deeper perspective on prayer was presented and, for those who wished, a visit to Red Hill Farm, an initiative of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia which, from its six acres, provides food for 130 members as well as for the sisters. Friday centered on our ecological conversion after viewing the devastating video, “Earth and the American Dream.” As symbols of our renewed efforts, we placed our “green” commitments on a barren branch during the moving reconciliation ritual.
Our final day of quiet was spent in the company of Mary in her cosmic dimension and in a walk with Cornelia asking her help as we try to live out the fruits of these remarkable days.
Spiritual experiences always elude words, so this is but the outline of a week of profound probing of the heights and depths of our incarnational charism, the ever-expanding gift Cornelia left to us and to the world.