Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington



From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302


Immaculate Heart Retreat Center offers ‘Emotionally Free Course’ this month

Story and photo by Mitch Finley, Inland Register staff

(From the Aug. 3, 2006 edition of the Inland Register)

Marlene Schuster and Gloria Riedlinger. (IR photo)

“The Emotionally Free Course will give you many opportunities to hear from God.”

The speaker is Rita Bennett. Her husband, the late Dennis Bennett, was an Episcopalian priest and a sparkplug in the early Charismatic Renewal movement in the United States. With him as her co-founder and director, she began Christian Renewal Association, Inc., in Edmonds, Wash. Bennett and her team will present her Emotionally Free Course at Immaculate Heart Retreat Center the weekend of Aug. 18-20.

“With each teaching phase,” Bennett said, “there will be group discussions and time spent talking and listening to God. The Holy Spirit will help us receive answers to our needs and new insights for living. Certificates of achievement will be given to those who complete the course.”

Two local Catholic women – Marlene Schuster and Gloria Riedlinger, both members of Spokane’s St. Peter Parish – have attended several Emotionally Free workshops, and were instrumental in bringing Rita Bennett and team to Immaculate Heart Retreat Center.

“The strength of this program,” said Schuster, “is that not only is it Christ-centered, but Rita takes you back into your childhood. So many things that we suffer during life’s journey we don’t deal with very well. But Jesus is outside of time, so this program helps you bring him into those times of hurt and pain. But it’s done in such a gentle way, and with such confidentiality that you feel like you can bring Jesus into that moment for healing. You never lose the memory, but the way you feel about the memory is totally changed, because Jesus is there. It’s a beautiful thing to experience.”

“I now understand myself,” said Riedlinger, “and I feel more grounded in my faith. It’s okay, and I’m okay because God loves me so much.”

Schuster explained that while the Emotionally Free Course tends to attract more women than men, it’s far from being for women only. “We have a man on the team, and many men attend,” she said. “Married couples attend, and single people attend, and people who are divorced. At each workshop there are mixed groups, men and women, and groups for men only or women only. You choose which group you want to be in.”

Although she is an Episcopalian, said Bennett, Catholics should have no reservations about possible conflicts between her theological and spiritual perspectives and Catholic theology and spirituality. “I think that people who are led by the Holy Spirit and are looking toward eternity are open to all people…. Mother Teresa is such an example. We know Mother Teresa walked the streets of Calcutta, India and stopped to pray for anyone, and everyone, even outcasts with no identity, or dying Hindus. That’s the kind of Christian I aspire to be.”

(For further information and to register for the Emotionally Free Course, call Immaculate Heart Retreat Center, 509-448-1224.)


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