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Springfield Dominicans Host Retreat for Sisters with Memory Loss

SPRINGFIELD, IL ”The retreat met all of my dreams for these Sisters,” said Sister Phyllis Schenk, OP, Dominican Sisters of Springfield Vicaress General and Liaison for Retreats. “It tapped into old memories while also bringing the participants to a contemplative space for prayer and peace today.”

Memory Loss retreatPraying from the Heart was a two day retreat hosted at Sacred Heart Convent, motherhouse of the Dominican Sisters, in Springfield, Illinois directed by Sister Rose Ange Leddy, IHM and Sister Alacoque Burger, OSF February 4 & 5, 2008. 

“Some people would say, these Sisters can’t focus or remember; why would you do all of this for them: they’re going to forget it,” retreat co-director Sr. Rose Ange said.  “That’s certainly not the feeling I’ve witnessed while here in Springfield.  I have been touched by the loving care everyone here has for their Sisters. It’s magnificent, and I don’t normally talk in those terms.”

Memory Loss RetreatThe goal for this new model is designed to meet the needs of Sisters with memory loss.   The retreat meets some of the spiritual needs of those who gain only limited benefits from participation in traditional preached or directed retreats.

“I’ve watched for years Sisters suffer through retreats and not even be able to hear the presenter,” Sister Phyllis said.  “Now we’ve finally found a way to really address their needs.”

During the two day retreat the participants viewed old pictures and artifacts, created art projects, watched videos, sang songs, joined in the Salve procession, renewed their vows and prayed together.

“I feel a lot better; I’m glad I did it,” said retreat participant Sister Rita McGrath, OP.

The approach is specifically designed for persons with cognitive loss, but anyone can enter into the contemplative experience.

“I think we all did very well,” said Sister Marian Zarones, OP, who attended the retreat as a companion to her sister, Sister M. Teresine Zarones, OP.  “There was a closeness of love from everyone.  They all responded well.”

“I’m just in awe of how our Sisters who are participating have been animated through the process,” said Sister Rose Marie Riley, OP, Dominican Sisters of Springfield Prioress General “There’s been a beauty about it.  The depth that the Sisters have been able to enter into has been humbling.  I have hopes of continuing this retreat in the future and I encourage other communities to look into it as well.”



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