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Midterm Retreat: Out of the City into the Country


Missioner-in-training Mary Mortenson shares about the midterm retreat she and her formation classmates took. 

We went on retreat this past week. Fr. Ed Shea, a Franciscan priest from Chicago, came to lead it.

It was a blessing.

A blessing to get out into the countryside and be surrounded by farmland. The farm girl in me was at home. 🙂

We stayed in a retreat house on the property of a Benedictine monastery, called St. Gertrude Monastery  in Ridgely, Md. They also are a host to a residential home and school called The Benedictine School that assists young individuals with disabilities.

While we were there, we had a lot of time for quiet and reflection, we also had time for sharing, celebrating mass, singing (thanks to Fr. Ed) and playing games together. (Please ask Hady about the doves in New York.) 🙂

The content of the retreat was reflecting on “The Four Commandments of Contentment”, which was presented by Fr. Ed.

1) Live in the here and now
2) Don’t be in a hurry
3) Don’t take yourself too seriously
4) Be grateful

We discussed these principles as a group and were encouraged to live out these principles daily, especially on mission.

Although I could see ways in which I need to grow in all four of the commandments, living in the here and now, stood out to me.

Since being here in D.C. for formation, I’ve had times of excitement for the future, times of sadness as I am reminded of what I’ll miss out on being away, and fear as I anticipate being uncomfortable and lonely at times on mission.

On retreat I was reminded to stay in the present. That my true calling is to be present to each day and each moment. If I stay rooted in where I am, I will not be overwhelmed and overtaken by the future, that always remains unknown.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to slow down and to be reminded that life is being lived now and it would be sad to have it just pass me by.

Take time to reflect on these four commandments of contentment to see which ways YOU are being called to grow today.

Mary and Nate recently returned from two years of mission at the rural Carmen Pampa University in Bolivia.

Nate, the youngest son of nine, hails from La Cross, Wisconsin. Mary grew up picking strawberries in small-town Minnesota. The couple met at the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire, where Mary studied sociology and outdoor leadership and Nate studied Spanish and geology. They share a passion for food and bicycling, and a desire to set their marriage on a foundation of service, simplicity, and a deeper global understanding.