Last weekend, I had the opportunity to share the themes from my new book, Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious at the annual Military Council of Catholic Women’s (MCCW) retreat held at the chapel on the post at Carlisle Barracks, where the US Army War College is located. What a wonderful group of 68 women! Most of them are wives to either active duty or retired military personnel. I met a few women who even wore a service uniform themselves, or had children currently serving our country.
On Friday we had Mass together and shared in a luncheon where I gave a presentation to get the women pumped up for the weekend ahead.
Later that night we prayed the Stations of the Cross, and shared a simple meal of soup and salad.
I learn a lot about army life, the heroes who nobly serve our nation, and the joys and heartbreaks that military families experience. As I toured the post, I learned the history of Carlisle Barracks and the top rank officers who are selected to study toward further advancement at the college. As a guest, I stayed in the VIP quarters on post at Washington Hall — named for President George Washington, who as an army general led missions from the Barracks back in colonial days when Carlisle PA was the western-most outpost of the country.
Fr. Gregory D’Emma, the Chaplain at Carlisle Barracks, explained some of the religious history associated with the armed forces, including a fascinating story of a chaplain who may one day be declared a saint! You may be interested in the story of Fr Emil Kapaun – a military chaplain who was a priest, a soldier, and a hero during the Korean War. His cause for canonization as a saint is underway, and there’s a short video describing his life.
On Saturday the women and I had a full-day of retreat together. We opened with morning prayer and recognition of Our Lady of Good Counsel, the patroness of the MCCW chapter in Carlisle.
Then I offered three talks, along with slides and music, based on the themes drawn from three parts of my book – the blessed dignity of women, the beautiful gifts of women, and the bodacious mission of women!
Some highlights of the retreat for me included listening to three inspiring women – Rebecca Burbridge, Katie Hester, and Kathy McQuaig – who courageously offered their reflections on the different subjects of our womanly dignity, gifts, and mission. Great spiritual fruit was also found in the chapel, both with confessions and in quiet in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. The retreat also included opportunities for personal sharing and group discussions, and great food and fellowship at meals.
I’ve even come home with some cool swag from my time at Carlisle Barracks — a great coffee mug and bookmark from the college — things every reading-writer needs! Plus a fabulous polka-dot scarf that tied up the gift basket I received.
Only the keen eye of a sensitive woman would know about the polka-dot dress on the woman on the cover of Blessed, Beautiful and
Bodacious! I was really touched by it all.
So, naturally, I had to model it for the “bodacious” talk and share my new favorite accessory with the women!
Enjoy the gallery below. You can click on any photo to view it in a larger mode. And, please, let’s remember to pray for our troops and their families!