Women in Transition Continued

“When it became necessary for Sister Carolyn Gorny-Kopkowski, long-time organizer and leader of spiritual programs, to curtail some of her activities, I was sad and anxious, and distressed that the Women in Transition program would need to be discontinued,” shared Beth Sammartino Blood. “Then I remembered Sister Joan Chittister’s wisdom: ‘This is not a time for despair but for action.’”

To that end, Beth, a faithful participant in Sister Carolyn’s programs and retreats for more than 10 years began Women in Transition Continued. She invited Becky Spudich, Oblate, to help her. “I was pleased that Beth asked me to help her plan and present the Women in Transition Continued retreats,” said Becky. “I always leave our gathering feeling a sense of oneness with the ladies who are able to join us. Laughter, tears, sharing and support are all experienced during our retreats. Women caring for women--I am honored to be part of it.” As Beth and Becky planned the program they kept Sister Carolyn in mind: “We felt compelled to honor the tried and true living legacy of Sister Carolyn,” said Beth. “We began an ‘in-house’ program and maintained the five program components we learned from Sister Carolyn: prayer, presentation, creative activity, silence and reflection, and shared wisdom.”

The setting for Women in Transition (WIT) Continued in-house program found a home in Beth’s home. “Initially I worried about numbers,” Beth shared, “but Joanne Cahill, Oblate, another faithful participant in Carolyn’s programs reassured me: ‘What is more important than numbers and plans is this: keep following the call that opportunities such as the one you are providing for women are needed.’” The participants attest to this: “Going to WIT is a gift I give myself,” shared Bev. “It helps me to be with others and learn that I am not alone. No matter who we are or what kind of work we do, we all have struggles. By getting together and sharing our thoughts and experiences we learn from each other.” And Cindi had this to say: “I'm still processing the wisdom shared during the WIT weekend. I learn best in a group setting and bonding with the women gives me strength when I need it the most.”

Through this past year there have been four successful and spirit-filled gatherings of 9-10 women. In addition to using Sister Carolyn’s five component program model, Beth and Becky added their own personal touches. The program now includes taking up a collection of donations specific to the needs of impoverished women and children, and the study of a dynamic woman in history. The participants have been inspired by learning about women such as Dorothy Day, Brigid Kildare and Alice Walker, to name a few. Most recently, the participants had the opportunity to hear from Sister Carolyn herself, whom Beth had invited to attend to share reflections about the continuation of the program in a home setting after decades of being held in the monastery. Specifically, Carolyn was asked to respond to the question: Do you perceive any ‘common thread’ that connects the participants in the women in transition program, no matter where they gather?

Sister Carolyn was thrilled and grateful to attend the gathering in Beth’s home, “I am so pleased that Beth and Becky are able to offer this program for women in transition,” said Sister Carolyn, “It doesn’t really matter where it takes place. The place is not the common thread; the common thread (for me) is the YEARNING in the women no matter what their background, issues, economic status, or geographical location. We are all SEEKERS on a common journey throughout our lives.” Sister Carolyn also spoke about the women’s intuitive sense of the common bond that forms when personal sharing occurs, “I have experienced this reality come to fruition many times, especially when the women allow themselves to be vulnerable and open to the conversation.”

Beth and Becky remain open to the Spirit and to the unfolding of this new endeavor: Women in Transition Continued. They are in the process of selecting the content and date of the next gathering. They keep Sister Carolyn’s parting message in mind: “Wherever even two or three are gathered in God’s Spirit, God is present.”