Archdiocese Local

Retreat to focus on grief and the holidays

by Moira Cullings

Taking on the holiday season while grieving the loss of a loved one can be daunting, but an upcoming Zoom retreat is there to ease the pain.

“In the Catholic Church, November, in particular, is the time when we remember our loved ones who are part of the communion of saints in heaven,” said Mary Kay Whitacre.

“We hope to help participants celebrate what their loved ones’ presence meant when they lived among us on earth,” she added, “and to continue that love by the way they live their lives now.”

Whitacre is the associate director of Sophia Spirituality Center in Atchison, a ministry of the Benedictine Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica, as well as the associate director of the Souljourners Ecumenical Spiritual Direction Formation, a program sponsored by the Sophia Center.

She will facilitate “The Changing Seasons and Grief” retreat with Vicki Farley, a hospice chaplain in Hawaii.

The retreat will take place online via Zoom on Nov. 5 from 2-4 p.m.

A Zoom retreat will be offered for those who are grieving on Nov. 5 from 2-5 p.m.

Farley said she and Whitacre met during graduate school and “realized we had the same heart in wanting to assist others on their grief walk.”

The women want those who are grieving to know they’re not alone.

The retreat, said Whitacre, will be an opportunity for attendees to voice their grief, search for meaning and find peace in the pain, especially as the holidays loom, the weather grows colder and the days get shorter.

“It can be very difficult to face the expectations of this season of joy with a grieving heart,” she said. “We hope to offer some practical suggestions for navigating these expectations.”

Facing the holiday season when you’re missing a loved one can be daunting. The upcoming Zoom retreat is there to help.

Farley hopes those who participate  in the retreat will recognize God’s presence in their lives.

“We build a sacred space that allows for each person to express their loss and share their story,” she said. “We allow a sense of the sacred through quiet moments, story[telling] and an openness to question what their authentic place is in their life of grief.”

The women are grateful for the technology that will allow them to reach a wider audience through this retreat.

“The Zoom retreat format has enabled us to share the Benedictine charism with a growing number of participants who may never be able to come to the Mount,” said Whitacre.

“We have been touched by the Spirit’s power to form personal connections,” she continued, “and to build a spiritual community electronically.”

A freewill donation will be accepted for those interested in attending “The Changing Seasons and Grief” retreat. To register, click here.

About the author

Moira Cullings

Moira attended St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Overland Park and Benedictine College in Atchison. She majored in marketing, minored in psychology and played center midfield for the women’s soccer team. Moira joined The Leaven staff as a feature writer and social media editor in 2015. After a move to Denver, Moira resumed her full-time position at The Leaven and continues to write and manage its website, social media channels. Her favorite assignment was traveling to the Holy Land to take photos for a group pilgrimage in 2019.

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