Women’s Night Series: Theology of the Body

This semester we’ve focused our Women’s Nights series on Theology of the Body. These nights are built into our programming as a clear space for women to come together and learn from other, often older, women how to be women of God.

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The first part of our four-part series was an introduction to the Theology of the Body, taken mostly from Pope John Paul II. The talk was given by one of my fellow missionaries, Teresa, and covered the basics of what it means to be a woman, how our femininity and human sexuality play into who we are as daughters of God, and touched briefly on our complementary relationship with masculinity. We had a time for questions and answers afterwards and used them to inform which topics to address in the next three Women’s Nights.

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The second part of the series was a panel discussion hosted at my Household. The panel was three women: Allison, a young, single professional; Rachel, one of the FOCUS missionaries we partner with; and Michelle, a married women with two young boys. They each talked about how knowing Theology of the Body has affected their lives, especially in the discernment of their vocations. The students all had time to write down questions, and I was blown away by how vulnerable their questions were! I think the women on the panel being so open to share had given these students the freedom to ask the hard questions, which was exciting to watch.

IMG_2078Our third talk was given by Dr. Kalamerides, an OBGYN from the Vitae Clinic in Austin. He’s a Catholic doctor who is very knowledgable in the medical side of female sexuality. He talked on various topics such as birth control, NFP (natural family planning), and how young women deserve a new sexual revolution — one that will empower them with true knowledge of their bodies and how they were designed by God.

Next week will be our fourth and final Women’s Night and we’ve invited Dr. Kalamerides’ wife, Heather, to talk to us more in depth on NFP and the Creighton model of fertility awareness. We’re excited to have her with us and I’ve been so encouraged seeing the students engage so well with this material! Many of the women are in our Formation Program where we’ve been talking all semester about becoming men and women of God. It’s sweet to see how all of the things they’ve been hearing have meshed together so well, and I’ve had many great conversations with them about it. I’m praying these conversations continue long after our last planned Women’s Night!

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Fan Into Flame

“I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control.”

2 Tim. 1:6-7

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The very first weekend of February was our big Spring retreat called Fan Into Flame. We had over 70 students join us out in Caldwell, TX at Crossroads Retreat Center for a weekend full of incredible talks, testimonies, good community, and plenty of time for prayer. This retreat was focused on leading students into a deeper relationship with the Lord. Many of the talks were built around what it means to put Jesus at the center of our lives, and ranged from discussions on reconciliation and worship to receiving the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

The talks were spread evenly throughout the weekend, and were broken up by testimonies, small discussion groups, and time for worship and prayer. One of the things that was emphasized over the course of the weekend was the power given to us in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. We were reminded of the way the Holy Spirit was given to us first at Pentecost, and how He fills us with His gifts both at Baptism and Confirmation. Many college students we encounter have received both of these sacraments growing up, but have never really owned their faith or put the gifts they received from the Holy Spirit to use. Many students have never actually been asked “why are you Catholic?” or had a need to reclaim the faith they may have been taught in grade school. This retreat provided a space for many of these students to ask themselves why they believe what they believe, and to ask the Holy Spirit to rekindle the fire He’s already given them in the sacraments of initiation.

32792180050_9331eadd83_kThis was the first time for the SPO Texas chapter to have a retreat led almost entirely by students. Each one of the staff members was in charge of supervising student leaders, but the students were the ones running registration, writing and giving the talks, and leading all of the discussion groups. This was a huge step for all of us as a community, and we came out on the other side with an unbelievable amount of trust in one another. The student leaders, many of whom live in Households, stepped up well and went above and beyond in their individual leadership roles. There was something very powerful for the other students on the retreat to watch their peers step up and share the way the Lord has worked in their lives.img_1802

Being a supervisor instead of giving a talk or leading a small group freed me up during the weekend to have an eye for some of the newer students who were just starting to get back into their faith. I had a number of wonderful discussions with some of the girls, and was impressed by how excited they were after the retreat to dive deeper into prayer with the Lord, and come back to the sacraments.

I’m excited to see how the Lord is going to continue calling each one of them into a deeper and more joy-filled life with Him. Pray for us as we walk with these students and encourage them to grow in their relationship with Christ!