Faith & Sharing: A 22-year Memorial Day tradition
Many people view the long Memorial Day weekend as the kickoff to summer and plan for barbecues and family get-togethers. Others continue the annual ritual of remembering loved ones by placing flowers on their graves and cleaning up around their tombstones.
But Sister Christella Buser will mark this Memorial Day weekend as she has every one for the past 21 years: By gathering up people to join her in a Faith and Sharing retreat.
This year’s weekend is at the University of St. Mary campus in Leavenworth, Kan., and Sister Christella will be one of four facilitators leading the 42 participants from central and eastern Kansas.
The idea behind Faith and Sharing retreats grew out of L’Arche, founded in 1964 by Jean Vanier as a community where developmentally disabled and physically challenged adults and “assistants” would live and work together. The Federation of L’Arche International today has more than 130 communities in 30 countries, including L’Arche Heartland in the Kansas City area, which Sister Christella helped found in the late 1980s.
Vanier held the first Faith and Sharing, an annual Gospel-centered retreat, in 1968 in Toronto, Ontario, and in 1990 Sister Christella was instrumental in bringing the retreat to Kansas.
This year’s participants will include L’Arche community members and others from Concordia, Belleville, Salina, Overland Park, Olathe, Lawrence, Leavenworth and Kansas City. The theme for the 2011 gathering is “Grace: Weaving the Colors of Our Life.”
The weekend’s other facilitators are Sisters Ann Lucia Apodaca and Lucy Walter, both Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, and Father Kevin Cullen of Rockhurst College in Kansas City. Sister Julie Christensen, a Sister of St. Joseph of Concordia, is among the volunteers.
“There will be a dance, art projects, classes, music, performances and a Mass,” explains 86-year-old Sister Christella as she gets ready for the weekend that begins Friday morning with a van trip to Leavenworth. “People tell me this is the best weekend of their lives.”
The participants stay in a residence hall at the Leavenworth college, and the retreat continues through late Sunday morning.
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My name is Eileen McIlwee and I am the Coordinator for Faith and Sharing Communities in North America. We are an organization of other Faith and Sharing Groups throughout the US and Canada that communicate with one another and offer support to one another. We publish a newsletter every six months. We would love to include information about your retreat and to connect with you and offer you support as we are able. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our website is faithandsharing.net and has information about other Faith and sharing groups. We look forward to connecting with you soon.
Peace and Blessings to you,
Faith and Sharing North American
Coordinator for English Speaking Communities