In this life, there is Just One You (JOY). You are a creator and the subject of your creation is your joyful life experience. At our recent JOY Retreat, mentors, staff, and spiritual directors with Dominican Center Marywood at Aquinas College invited guests to a variety of guided prayerful practices.

Joy comes from the knowledge of God’s love for us. Joy does not simply happen to us, we must choose joy and continue to keep choosing it every day. We belong to God and have found in Him our refuge and our safety. This day was a gentle reminder to all that participated how delicate our choice is, but so very necessary. ~ Mindy Hills

It truly was a morning of renewal as participants experienced a variety of prayerful and reflective practices on Saturday, April 30, at the JOY Retreat. Apprentice and Spiritual Director Mindy Hills welcomed participants to Dominican Center Marywood at Aquinas College and introduced them to the format for the retreat. "The ability to know our gifts and nurture them provide clarity in identifying where God is calling us to live a joy-filled life," said Mindy.

I hold you with joy in my heart, being confident in God that through God’s grace you will be made God’s dear friend. ~ Hildegard, Letters Vol II 107

With reflective prompts along the trail, participants imagined and contemplated walking with Jesus on the Road to Emmaus. Participants were invited to notice the beautiful wildflowers that bloomed and the sound of the creek that soothed their steps.

Comfort in Quiet and In Community

Life is enriched through moments and community, and our facilitators offered moments of connection and grace. The JOY Retreat was a morning of spiritual renewal. The retreat time offered participants a taste of several prayer practices as well as supportive interaction walking the Emmaus prayer trail and experiencing sessions of spiritual direction with certified spiritual directors. Within this morning were conversations and gently guided contemplative prayer that helped the participants reorient their spiritual life with essential spiritual tools that honor Christ-centered living.

Sr. Diane Zerfas, OP invited participants to grow in understanding and appreciation of the life of St. Catherine of Siena with a short teaching from the Foundations in Spirituality formation intensive, which begins each fall. (Join the next group on Saturdays, 10:00 am - 3:00 pm, beginning September 17, 2022.)

JOY Retreat at Dominican Center Marywood at Aquinas College, Grand Rapids, MISpiritual Director Esther Yff-Prins led participants in the method of Christian Centering Prayer, which deepens our relationship with God. This receptive form of praying is wrapped in God’s love. Centering Prayer is not about petition or intercession. Rather it is silent, still, with one intent: To simply be with God, to rest in Divine Presence. (Join Centering Prayer each Tuesday.)

Spiritual Director Geralyn Myczkowiak led instruction of Lectio Divina, a great treasure of the Christian tradition of prayer, where one listens to the word of God in scripture to cultivate friendship with Christ as if we were in conversation by his suggestion. (Lectio Divina is offered weekly through Dominican Center Marywood.)

Participants were invited to consider the support of community as a way to enhance spiritual life, the same way intercessory prayer is a gift of service. Douglas Kamstra, spiritual director, introduced participants to Group Spiritual Direction. He shared that "Our uniqueness is enhanced and valued as we form the body of Christ. God is constantly buoying our conversation with deep presence. We are invited into a space with the whole of our identity that is safe and non-judgmental, also sacred."

Individual spiritual direction was offered by Spiritual Directors Diane Zerfas OP, Amanda Dobson, Mindy HillsAndy Rebollar, Gail Heffner, Doug Kamstra, Sharron Leerar, Michael Lisowski, Geralyn Myczkowiak, Christy Slabbekoorn, Esther Yff-Prins, and Mary Weisel.

During these condensed direction sessions, participants explored what a spiritual direction experience would feel like. In individual direction, people are often helped to integrate their faith and their life by talking on a regular basis with someone they can trust. This person acts as a guide for the journey to come alongside them, helping them to notice the presence and call on God in the people and circumstances of their everyday lives. (Inquire about Spiritual Direction.)

Dominican Center Marywood at Aquinas College is a ministry of Dominican Sisters ~ Grand Rapids.

Yolanda Ramirez oriented the group to the area that includes nature trails and more than 107 wooded acres.