Paris Slapikas, SCN, recently brought her staff from the Sister Visitor Center in Louisville, Ky., to Nazareth Motherhouse Campus on retreat. This retreat was made possible by the Hilton Foundation grant provided through the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. Sister Paris shares the following reflection on their retreat and how the experience positively impacted her staff:
The staff at Sister Visitor Center are serving the most economically vulnerable people in West Louisville, many of whom have also suffered a multitude of traumatic events creating barriers to their success. The staff serves tirelessly every day to provide the necessary resources to combat the food and housing insecurity and lack of utilities our participants struggle with regularly and to provide other case management services to help clients improve their circumstances. Staff rarely have the opportunity to take a step back from their focus on our participants to care for themselves for an entire weekend, so this was very special for our team.
With the help of two outside facilitators, we spent one day using the principles of Catholic Social Teaching to explore some key concepts that will help begin the process of making data-driven decisions to expand our case management over the next year. We used Solidarity to help us better understand the distinction between services and programs, and we discussed Rights and Responsibilities in respect to teamwork. We explored how the Common Good could assist us in exploring some key questions we need to answer for our service model, and Options for the Poor and Vulnerable was used to help us define and document our greatest need. Dignity helped us explore how to assess clients for case management as we move forward.
Our second day allowed for a much more reflective process and was led by Sharon Gray, SCN. Sister Sharon introduced my team to alternate prayer forms that the staff really enjoyed, including Tai Chi which we are still doing together once a week before our team meetings. The theme of this time with Sister Sharon was entitled, “Service, Self, Call: Community: the interconnected beauty of all.” Sister Sharon shared her gifts of storytelling, prayerful reflection, and skills with various videos, songs, and reflection materials to guide my team through personal and shared reflection on the different components of the theme. We also had time to enjoy a chair massage gifted to us by Nancy Endres, SCNA, and walk the beautiful grounds at Nazareth for some personal reflection time. This time with Sister Sharon was particularly meaningful for many of my staff, most of whom had never been on a retreat and told me they “didn’t know what to expect.”
For me personally, it was very special to have my team at Nazareth.
I am very proud to be the director of a program founded by the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, and I take every opportunity I can to tell people about the history of Sister Visitor Center. My staff knows the history, and while a couple of them had been to Nazareth, most of them had not. All of them were so excited to see the Sisters on campus who they knew from volunteering. They were deeply touched by the beauty of the grounds, the joy of the staff and Sisters and the hospitality shown to them. The staff shared with me how special it was to them to see me in a different environment among my Sisters. You are the women who inspire me each and every day to carry on the SCN charism and enable me to help it come alive at SVC each and every day for all who enter. This retreat time at Nazareth helped to refresh my team members individually and also deepened our bonds collectively. Thank you!