One Hundred Thousand Thank Yous for one Hundred Thousand Programs

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One hundred thousand is a large number for programs, presenters and facilitators that have graced our lives! One hundred thousand thanks is a poetic Irish way of saying thank you, often to mark a milestone or to express gratitude perhaps with a “wee” exaggeration. Mercy Center by the Sea in its fifty year journey has offered thousands of programs through the presenters and facilitators who have shared their own journeys with us. There are many programs that have had a long duration, sometimes with the same facilitators, and other times the thread is carried by a new presenter. The Enneagram is one example. I would like to highlight a few long, enduring programs that have anchored the spiritual renewal and human development programs these 50 years and have not been mentioned in previous blogs.

Sunrise Group, Breakfast Club, Seekers, Men Journeying Together: Early morning, bi-weekly prayer and discussion groups for men focusing on spirituality, relationships, community building and other human development issues have been a thread for nearly 30 years offering time for reflection and sharing on issues of love and intimacy, work and money, male friendship, feelings on how it all integrates into spirituality. These groups have been faithfully facilitated by Jay Bowes and Lee Chamberlain.

Recently retiring, Jerry Silbert has facilitated programs in Mindfulness at Mercy Center by the Sea for 25 years. Mindfulness helps us to intentionally be aware of what is going on inside us and around us. It helps us look honestly at our thoughts, our judgments, our emotions and our behavior.

Have you experienced this wish of loving kindness? May you be kind to yourself; may you feel safe and secure. May you live with wisdom and courage; may you live with kindness and compassion. May you be at ease in yourself; may you find the healing you seek. May you find peace.

Advent Retreats have been part of the spiritual fabric of Mercy Center by the Sea for at least 35 years. You may remember the Advent Retreat Weekends that Sister Florence Trahan planned since 1979, almost every year until her death in 2009, which was a week before her annual planned Advent Retreat. The tradition of an Advent Weekend Retreat still continues for that beautiful season of waiting.

Sabbaticals, an experience of renewal of Spirit, started in 1990 with the flexibility of one, three, six or eight months, were individually designed to respond to each person’s request for quiet, rest, solitude and time to reflect and renew in prayer, spirituality, faith development with individual mentoring and option to participate in programs offered during the participants stay.  Sabbaticals are still offered to religious women for a six week stay annually.

Summer Sabbaths, an experience of renewal open to all, invite participants to come to the water to renew their connection with life’s animating Spirit and recover one’s potential for joy and peace.

Celtic Spirituality: Over the years Mercy by the Sea offered many series and experiences to help us see life through the Celtic Spirit…seeing life in a deeply creative way as holding the presence of the Divine. 

There were and are several cycles of programs with John Philip Newell; programs in creativity and spirituality following the Celtic muse; many prayer series on the Celtic year inviting us to listen deeply to the message of the unfolding seasons of the year knowing the deeper reality.  The equinoxes and solstices along with other celebrations of returning light, the beginning of summer, the harvest season and the time of darkness are offered.

 Directed Retreats: In 1979 with the arrival of Sister Patricia Cook, the program department directed retreats offerings became an annual offering with staff and invited directors, particularly in the summer months where it grew to nine directed retreats each week during at least seven weeks of the summer months. Directors and directees gathered from many parts of the world.  This opportunity has continued to this day with a pre-scheduled annual program from January to December.

Grief programs, coping with loss and moving through the grief process have been a part of support groups and prayer experiences leading to new life.

Tai Chi: Meditation in Motion started in the 1990’s with Suzanne Hanley. This ancient way of moving both physically and spiritually has continued and Tai Chi by the Sea with Dennis McCann is such a gift especially during the pandemic days offering an outdoor landscape.

“The second half of my life will be ice breaking up on the river, Rain soaking the fields, a hand held out,  A fire, and smoke going upward always up.”  —Excerpt from Crossroads by Joyce Sutpen.

Second Half of Life programs began ten years ago and quickly became a three-semester program as seekers join with other seekers on a journey toward a new vision of the Second Half of Life. Through mythology, story, scripture, poetry, literature, film, art and music, it explores how aging has been viewed across times, cultures and traditions and the wisdom practices that support and sustain growth into the fullness of life; engage current research in happiness, medicine, and the brain to inform revisioning of the Second Half of Life.

Centering Prayer programs and contemplative experiences extend back to programming with Yale intern Ron Farr  in the 1970’s. Centering prayer extends the invitation to come to a place of interior quiet in which we focus on a simple, loving regard for God. Centering Prayer retreats and prayer groups are currently facilitated by Claire Rusowicz and Anne Simpkinson continue to invite us in contemplation to engage with the Sacred .

Themed retreats and programs for Women: Women often struggle to recognize, trust and claim their own voice and celebrate their gifts in contemporary society and church. Through retreat, prayer, discussion, books and shared experiences women celebrate and discover their own stories of hope.

Have you been touched by one of these threshold moments inviting you to see, hear, live more whole-ly and holy? Email Sister Genie Guterch with your reflections.

So, one hundred thousand thank yous to all the presenters and facilitators for one hundred thousand programs these fifty years! It is impossible to name you all and the many themes that have been part of the fabric of the programming. You are a part of something we have seen and known and touched in our lives. Thank you! Thank you!  Thank You!