Wednesday, March 20, 2019 - Updated: 2:56 pm
Ten women sat cross-legged in a circle enthusiastically discussing authentic relationships as part of the Diocesan High School Women’s Retreat on March 9.
The Pittsburgh Religious Vocations Council, a collection of orders within the diocese that collaborates to promote vocations, hosted the retreat at the Sisters of St. Joseph Motherhouse in Baden. The retreat was made possible through a grant from National Catholic Sisters Week, an annual celebration that takes place March 8-14 to honor women religious and teach young women about a vocation to the religious life.
The PRVC saw this retreat as an opportunity to offer faith formation exclusively to high school women on the diocesan level. They chose the relational theme because young women discerning a vocation need to be in right relationship with God, with the people around them and with themselves, said Sister Geraldine Wodarczyk, a member of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth.
“As people discern their qualities for any vocation, having good relational skills is very important,” she said.
St. Joseph Sister Valerie Zottola said she hoped that the retreat would allow attendees to return to their daily lives with the tools to grow deeper in their relationship with God through prayer.
The retreat included Mass celebrated by Capuchin Father Michael Greb, Eucharistic adoration, opportunity for the sacrament of reconciliation, talks, group discussions, personal prayer time, and praise and worship music.
Merritt Donoghue, Catholic Women’s Fellowship of Pittsburgh core team member and community engagement manager at De Fer Coffee & Tea, spoke on relationships. She said that though God’s love is unconditional, a relationship with him must be two-sided.
“Even though God’s never going to leave you, that’s not enough to have a relationship with him. It has to come from you, too,” she said.
To deepen this relationship, Donoghue recommended “dating” God, or getting to know him better by spending time with him, as one would in a dating relationship. She suggested adoration, confession and active participation in the Mass as ways of doing this. Donoghue said the practice made her more self-aware.
“In learning about him, you learn so much more about yourself and find your most authentic self,” she said.
Emily Cunningham and Natalie Salibi led praise and worship music, and Cunningham encouraged the women to realize how loved they are by the Lord.
“We forget that we are loved and we are his. If we feel abandoned, we are not. The Lord has us, and we are his beloved daughters,” Cunningham said.
Attendee Sara Seaman appreciated the witness of faith that the retreat leaders offered.
“It’s really inspiring that people who actively know God are here speaking to young people,” she said.