Let them eat cake: FMS staff enjoyed a weekend at the beach as part of their annual staff retreat. L to R: Matt Lorch, Br. Paul O’Keeffe, OFM; Susie Zagar, Rhegan Hyypio, Rachel Roa.

A gentle breeze brushed past my face as I stared out into the crashing waves and ocean in Beach Haven New Jersey, all around me a feeling of peace. I thought of the prayer of the weekend “Christ before us, Christ behind us, let all around be Christ.” These words came from the meditation given to us by Rhegan Hyypio, our retreat leader for the weekend. Each one of us kept thinking how fortunate we were to be in the midst of such serenity.
The weekend was blessed with beautiful weather, wonderful company, and delicious cuisine. We were lucky to have Br. Paul O’Keeffe, OFM, FMS returned missioner and excellent cook, to spend time with us on retreat. He helped us navigate our way around the island in addition to cooking for us the first night: he prepared an amazing curried chicken with mango and pinneapple, with cooked vegetables and fish. While it doesn’t get any better than that, wait until you hear what we had for dessert – a lemon and berry trifle also made by Br. Paul. Sorry to say there is no picture, it disappeared quite quickly during the course of the weekend.

Overall we were thankful for our time at the beach to spend getting to know one another and learning about creativity in both our spiritual lives and in our communities. One of the key points we focused on during the weekend can be summed up in this quote: “God is at home. We are the ones who go out for the walk.” These words helped us to see how God is ever present in our hearts, our lives and the faith that dwells within us. Through prayer we grow in that honest self-awareness that allows us to be our authentic selves, and through that we can create community, built on true and loving relationships.

Lighthouses in all shapes and sizes, all temples of the Holy Spirit! L to R: Matt Lorch, Susie Zagar, Rachel Roa, Mariam Mitry.


New Domestic Volunteer Matt Lorch strikes a pose with Br. Paul O’Keeffe.
After skipping (or attempting to skip) rocks, we all pose for a final group shot together.
We were most thankful to Rhegan for preparing and coordinating our retreat.
Seeking to follow where Christ leads us!