Monday, August 23, 2010

Day 2 continued...

Our afternoon was free time for the first time. Almost everybody took advantage of our location and headed to the Potomac River for a dip. The water was a bit warmer than most were used to, but it still refreshed us and kept us cool from the 95 degree temperatures. It is always nice to see everybody meshing with each other, and to watch the greater FVM community form before your eyes.

After dinner we had a bit more free time, but many of the FVMs were together planning for Mass or prayer. The backgammon and cards came out, and the competitive spirit followed.

At around 8, we gathered for our first Mass as an entire community. Fr. Michael presided and had help preparing from Kelly (Philadelphia), Dorothy (Wilmington), Tom (Camden), and Jen (Camden). Jen put one of her many talents to work as she lead our hymns and responsorial psalms.

During Mass on retreat, we open the format up a bit and let the FVMs work their creativity into the Mass. Tonight, the planners decided that we would write our name on a rock, and then randomly select a different one. Then, the name we ended up with, would be our "prayer partner" for the year, and that would be the person one would pray with more intention for. It was a beautiful Mass, and a great way to end our first full day together.

Goodnight from Maryland.

Day 2

We woke this morning to the sun beating down on the Potomac. An "early" breakfast (okay it was at 8) saw about half the crew make an appearance. It is always interesting to see how many will show up the first day.

After breakfast, we had a brief orientation to the retreat house by one of the staff members here. Once that finished we jumped right into a morning prayer. Prayer focused on praise of God, as well as asking God for confidence in the things we all were lacking, or hoping to achieve this year.

Once prayer finished, we continued our jam-packed morning with a history lesson of FVM presented by Fr. Michael. He took us through the program from the very beginning at Siena college, up to today. Michael has an ability to make even the seemingly boring things interesting by intermingling stories and reflections into his talks, and everyone was engaged into the history lesson.

After about 20 minutes, we had another history lesson, but this time on St. Francis and St. Clare. Fr. John led this talk and gave us a very detailed, and very entertaining view of their lives. To finish his presentation, John told the story of The Wolf of Gubbio. John's story telling is amazing, and even though many of us had heard that story countless times, it wasn't like listening to a song on replay.

Lunch brought some nourishment for our bodies, and also brought the arrival of and FVM alum. Colleen McCarthy, a former Philadelphia volunteer, came to speak to us about one of the three pillars of the program: community. Colleen shared with us how she came to be an FVM and some of her experiences at the Inn. The individual communities then broke into groups to come up with examples of what they expect of their year in community. Each house came up with artistic ways to display their ideas of what community means to them.

We would like to thank Colleen so much for taking time out of her schedule to be with us during this important time for our FVMs. Colleen brought so much energy and enthusiasm to the group, and we are very thankful for the gift that she shared.

More to come later...

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Opening Retreat 2010-2011

The year has finally begun! All three new FVM communities have arrived safely at the Loyola on the Potomac retreat house. Katie and I were here to greet the new communities as they arrived. Philadelphia shocked the world by arriving first, followed by Camden and Wilmington. For those of you who remember Fr. Chris, there was the annual honking of the horn arrival at the pseudo-silent retreat house.

After everybody got settled in to their rooms, we gathered for evening prayer led by out Program Director Katie. We talked about what we are trying to free ourselves from in this upcoming year, and a little about ourselves as an icebreaker. During the prayer, we tossed around a yellow ball of yarn after we shared our little bits to a random person. This eventually created a web of our community, showing that no matter where we are from, who we are, or where we are going, we are together as one community, and that we are only strong if all of us are strong.

Being the first day, we then broke into some free time and let the FVMs hang. They were playing games, listening to music, but most importantly, being with each other. The energy they bring is contagious, and everybody had a great time.

Stay tuned for more updates throughout retreat!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Closing Retreat Day 4

The final day of the 2009-2010 FVM year started the same way opening retreat began. We gathered in the chapel to have Mass said by Fr. Michael. The song "Voices that Challenge" was played as it has been for many years, and our volunteers were guided to think about the people they came in contact with over the year, and who's voices challenged them. Many of the FVMs had their eyes closed, and it was easy to see they were imagining the people who touched their hearts.

Fr. Chris played a beautiful rendition of "Pescador de Hombres" that brought tears to a few eyes. The way he played and sang showed so much passion and love that it was hard not to get emotional.

After communion, each community received a farewell blessing, and were anointed with oil by their site friars.

After Mass, we gathered for a photo shoot outside. It took many tries to get good pictures, but we finally found some that worked. To see more photos from retreat, head to our Facebook page.

In closing, we were truly blessed to be able to work with such a great group of volunteers this year. They challenged each other as well as us, but their commitment to their ministries, communities, and each other are to be commended greatly. It was evident than our volunteers were working for God, and that God was truly working through them. Good bye to our 2009-2010 FVM class. Thank you for everything, and may God bless you.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Closing Retreat Day 3

Wednesday Morning came a bit sooner than normal due to the fact we were up late. Really late. A few of us stayed up to greet one of our FVMs who had to go home for some personal reasons. We thank you for your prayers regarding this matter!

When the whole crew finally woke up, we had a Mass led by Julianne, Chris, Rory, and Anna. We gathered in the Chapel of the retreat house and then made a pilgrimage outside to a crucifix and statue of Mary. While outside, we went around the circle and had a very personal prayers of the faithful. We then headed inside to conclude the Mass. Chris and Julianne shared their amazing musical talents by singing and performing a song during communion. It was truly beautiful.

After Mass, we got together for a presentation by FVM alum Kelly Quist (Philadelphia 2003-2004) about life AFTER FVM. Kelly shared some stories from her personal life about how hard it was to readjust to life outside of the FVM world. This really helped many of our FVMs who are in a position of transition. Kelly was able to bring such a personal experience to a group setting easily, and said many times how lucky our FVMs were to be in the program.

We would like to thank Kelly greatly for being present and for such personal sharing!

During lunch, the annual mystery ride was announced. We had 15 minutes to get ready and pile into every car we had. Twenty minutes later we found ourselves at a ferry to head to MARTHA'S VINYARD! This marked the third "off continent" mystery ride. The weather was a bit shaky in the morning, but once we boarded, the sun came out in full force. Once we hit port on the other side of the water, groups broke off to explore. Some went to go eat, some went to the beach, and some went bike riding around the island. We were able to spend about four hours mixing it up with the tourists and millionaire mansion owners and we all enjoyed it thoroughly.

After we grabbed some dinner, Wilmington led our final prayer for the 2009-2010 year. For the prayer, we lit candles and said a prayer of thanksgiving for something in our FVM lives, and then one for the incoming FVMs. Although we were all pretty tired, it was the perfect way to end a perfect day.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Closing Retreat Day 2

We woke up Tuesday after the rain had passed, and had a Mass down at the boat house again. The Mass was put on by Celia, Kelly, Mary and Norma, and was celebrated by Fr. Chris. We sat on the beautiful porch of the house looking over the bay. Music again was brought to us by Chris and Julianne, and all four girls gave reflections after the Gospel. For the remainder of the Mass, we headed to the beach where we had communion and a few songs. The feel of the sand between our toes and the sun beating down on us gave us a great realization of nature and how blessed we are to be a part of it.

Following Mass, the director of the Cabrini Mission Corps, Gina Scarpello, started a presentation about transitions. Gina, a former volunteer herself, gave great insight in to how difficult it is to transition from a year of service. Gina explained the difference between a transition and a change, and how both can be dealt with. After a short lunch break, each individual community broke off, friars included, to discuss and brainstorm what they have learned this year communally, spiritually, and personally.

We would like to thank Gina greatly for sharing her gifts with us, and for facilitating sharing and understanding for our communities.

After dinner, we had a great prayer led by the Philadelphia community. During this prayer, we all got up one-by-one, and gave affirmation to a particular member of the 2009-2010 FVM community. Each person was given a name randomly, and was asked to get in front of the whole group to affirm their name. This was a beautiful demonstration of how deeply we each cared for each other, even if we weren't the closest to the person on the paper. Everybody took this exercise very seriously, and the mood of the rest of retreat seemed to be more relational.

More to come...