Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302
Consecrated life to be celebrated Feb. 8 at Immaculate Heart Retreat
by Sister Teresa Lamkin OSF, for the Inland Register
(From the Feb. 5, 2004 edition of the Inland Register)
(Editorís note: Consecrated Life for women Religious is celebrated during the month of February. Bishop Skylstad will be honoring women Religious in the Spokane Diocese on Feb. 8 at Immaculate Heart Retreat Center. Sister Theresa Lamkin wrote this reflection on what Religious life means to her. She has been a member of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia for five years.)
I am a member of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia! How proud I am to be among the more than 700 Sisters working in various countries. At no other time in my life have I ever felt as ďat homeĒ as I do in this Religious congregation. My heart swells with gratitude for all that God has given me.
Several years before joining the Franciscans, I had the opportunity to attend a Franciscan retreat. From a small hermitage window, I scanned the beauty of the forested retreat grounds of Our Lady of Angels Convent in Portland, Oregon. I had brought few material possessions with me for this three-day retreat, but the most important things I remembered to pack were listening ears and an open heart. As I peered out the window, I was awestruck at Godís gift of nature to me. I had the sun by day, the moon by night, the multi-colored trees and flowers, and the birds singing in the background. I felt so rich at that very moment Ö Godís love poured out in such magnificence! What else could I possibly need or desire?
Throughout this hermitage experience, I began to see things very differently in my life. As I journeyed home, I knew that I had been profoundly touched, and there would be no going back. My steady job, my three-bedroom home, my possessions from overseas travel were no longer enough! I hungered for much more. I wanted a group of people with whom I could live and share my faith life. I desired to be both supported and challenged to be the very best I could be. I prayed that I could find people who would be willing to walk with me as we journeyed down the same paths. Jesus spoke to my heart during that hermitage. In the quiet of solitude, I heard God call me, and I was ready to answer.
I joined our Congregation five years ago, and have found much more than I ever dreamed was possible. I found women whom I am proud to call my sisters and who help me love with a Franciscan heart. Together we challenge, love, and support one another.
My ministry takes me to the Womenís Drop-In Center in Spokane, Wash. There we work with women who are in transition in their lives. Most of them are of low-income and some are homeless. Our Center is a safe, welcoming place for all women regardless of race, ethnicity, or beliefs. Respect, love and trust help women to see that there are wonderful possibilities for them, and that they have the potential to be in a much better place in their lives.
The Center helps these women to become empowered by their relationships with each other, by the groups they attend, and by their willingness to be vulnerable in order to heal. Each day as I walk alongside these women, I see Christ. Just as I was looking for a community with which to journey, these women desire a similar connection. They want a place to call ďhomeĒ where they are loved, respected and encouraged to be the best they can be! We are present to each other, and that is the most important gift we can give!
Each evening I return to my local community of Sisters who work in different ministries. We have Sisters working at Miryamís House, hospice work, and St. Joseph Family Center. Sharing about where our paths have taken us that day and asking Godís blessing on the people who have touched our lives is all part of what nurtures my soul. And no evening would be complete without kicking back and enjoying one anotherís company.
I have found that which makes my heart sing. How long will this be so, you may ask? I have only to look at the joyful faces of our elderly Sisters who have dedicated their entire lives to God through this community. I choose to follow in their footsteps!