Ascension Thursday proved to be a perfect day to celebrate a Step Away for a Day Program with the SSJ Earth Center.
Eight parishioners of St. Joan of Arc Parish in Philadelphia, with
Sister Linda Lukiewski SSJ,
arrived at Mount Saint Joseph Convent at 10:00 am in the rain. However, rain did not deter the presenters and participants from having a wonderful event.
The purpose of the program is to provide a day of holistic health and well-being for participants who may not have the opportunity to avail themselves of such modalities.
Maryanne Williams, an associate from Wilmington, DE, led the yoga session. Yoga sets the tone of slowing down to feel one’s breath and to attend to the present moment.
This was followed by an instruction in the labyrinth and its ancient spiritual history. Its history in Australia is the oldest, going back about 30,000 years. The instructor for sharing the history was an Australian, Emma Rochester, who is just completing her doctoral work incorporating the labyrinth within her studies.
Janell Wysock, a fabric artist, followed the walking of the labyrinth with a gentle instruction in finger knitting. Just as the labyrinth draws one into the center of oneself, as well as the center of all things, where God, the Holy Spirit, can be found, the knitting helps to focus one’s mind to the center again. Each part of the day builds on the other.
Sister Mary Elizabeth Clark SSJ
, Director of the SSJ Earth Center, spoke to the group about the visits of Pope Francis and President Trump. Pope Francis gave the President a copy of his encyclical on
Care for Our Common Home
and mentioned to him the importance of the care of the environment. A summary of the encyclical was presented to the participants in Step Away to help make the connections for them. To be more attentive to contemplation and slow down in our face-paced world today, is the hope of Pope Francis.
After lunch in the dining room, the group made a visit to the chapel for a few moments of meditation.
Sister Doris Marie Gonzalez SSJ
led the group in songs of joy and praise. Each participant played an instrument to accompany her.
A circle of gratitude and Maryanne’s explanation of a mandala drew the day to a close. All went home with a book of mandalas to color, a set of coloring pencils, a plant, cloth napkin, reusable mug, shopping bag and a rose wood rosary.