Retreat is a weekend of prayer and listening

WHITE OAK­­—A dozen women spent Palm Sunday weekend trying to figure out what God has in mind for their lives.
The Women’s Discernment Retreat, held March 22-24 at White Oak Conference Center, offered opportunities for prayer, worship, individual and silent reflection. The event was sponsored by the Office for Vocations and is part of an escalated effort to help young Catholic women determine if they are being called to religious life, marriage, or living “single for the Lord.”
Members of more than a dozen religious orders attended the weekend and took part in informal panel discussions to describe their order’s history, mission and “a day in the life” of a typical sister. 
The women religious represented a wide variety of charisms, from health care, the Sisters of Bon Secours and Hospitaler Sisters of Mercy, to teaching like the School Sisters of Notre Dame, and those who live more cloistered, contemplative lives  such as Poor Clares and Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist. Retreatants could also talk one-on-one with the women religious about their lives and receive spiritual direction if they wished.
Sts. Cyril and Methodius Sister Pamela Smith, retreat leader, discussed the importance of prayer, its different forms and the role it plays in discernment.
Valerie Soop, associate director of young adult ministry for the diocese, spoke about how important it was for single women to learn to be happy and strive for holiness in the present day while also trying to figure out how they will serve the Lord.
“God’s love for you is not contingent on you figuring out your vocation,” Soop said. “God already loves you infinitely. Don’t let waiting be a source of stress or sorrow. You can grow in holiness now.”
“This has been a wonderful experience, and it’s what I really needed during Lent,” said Julie Nurse, a graduate student at Clemson University who attends St. Anthony of Padua Church in Greenville. “I needed to spend some quiet time with the Lord and get a sense of what is his will for my life. It’s good to be exposed to all the different options and explore each one.”