DALTON – A total of 62 women took a step back from the busyness of their lives recently to participate in the ‘Bold and Beloved Women’s Retreat’ sponsored by the Diocesan Office for Parish Life.

The Jan. 26-28 weekend event held at Holy Transfiguration Retreat Center gave each woman the opportunity to reflect, recharge, and find rest in our Lord.

Catholic women from all parts of the Diocese of Scranton came together Jan. 26-28 for the ‘Bold and Beloved Retreat’ at Holy Transfiguration Retreat Center in Dalton.

“It was everything I expected and more,” Anne Jenkins, parishioner of Saint Nicholas/Saint Mary Parish in Wilkes-Barre, said. “The ladies have been just so welcoming. I’m making all the connections I had hoped to make.”

The weekend featured four different talks and time for personal reflection, along with two Masses, Eucharistic Adoration, and the opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

“There is something beautiful about women coming together. Our culture today seems to almost discourage it,” Grace Zelinka, parishioner of Saint Jude in Mountain Top, said. “While we’re all different ages and at different places in life, we all have our faith in common and have a lot of the same values.”

The age range of participants spanned from early 20s to a 92-year-old woman.

“It has been so edifying to see so many women having an experience of their faith with other women in our diocese,” Mary Hallman, Diocesan Secretary for Parish Life, explained.

Theresa Plishka of Forty Fort attended the retreat with her mother after deciding to give her the experience as a Christmas present.

“We have a big family and she has a lot of grandkids running around so I thought it would be nice for both of us to take some time away from the world, the headaches of all the things we have to do,” Plishka said. “I thought what a great way for both of us to grow in our relationship with each other and our relationship with God.”

Retreat organizers say they found many mother-daughter duos who signed up for the experience together.

“It has just been really moving to see how those relationships are being blessed by the Lord today,” Marianne Guarnieri, Diocesan Director for Discipleship, added.

The retreat was led by Kara Kardell and Fred Shellabarger, founders of Draw Near, a movement that draws people close to Christ and one another through prayer, music, and communal spiritual exercises. Many of the reflections and discussions revolved around the teachings of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux.

“Saint Therese is a personal favorite saint of mine and having a weekend dedicated to her teachings, I felt would definitely help me grow closer in my faith,” Hannah Halliday, parishioner of Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Peckville, said. “I definitely feel that I’ve grown stronger in my faith just in the last couple of days that I’ve been here. I’ve learned so much that I’m going to take home and will encourage my fiancé to join me in strengthening our faith.”

“It was amazing to hear Kara’s testimony and her connections with God and her authenticity,” Kathleen Swann Fisher, parishioner of Saint John the Apostle Church in East Stroudsburg, added.

Funding from the Diocesan Annual Appeal helped to make the 2024 Bold & Beloved Retreat a reality. Generous gifts to the Appeal each year help to fund Parish Life initiatives throughout the Diocese of Scranton. The Diocesan Office for Parish Life provides leadership formation, spiritual renewal opportunities and many resources to all 110 parishes in our 11 counties. Working in collaboration with clergy and lay leadership, the Diocesan Office for Parish Life aims to help all people live out their faith fully, share it freely with others and transform the world in Christ.