Finding Prayer, Peace and Community as a Young Adult
A new job, and a changing relationship with God. A new baby, and a world turned upside down. For AnnaMarie Marsilio, 26, and Sara Paterson, 31, a retreat at St. Joseph Spirituality Center offered the chance to step back from the whirlwind of everyday life and attend to deeper questions of the heart, and of faith. Together with eight of their peers and guided by Sister Valerie Zottola and Spirituality Center Director, Kathy Wray, the women pondered sacred Scripture, spent time in prayer, and explored the grounds.
“Going to the retreat was my way of branching out and meeting new people and also taking some time for myself to decompress and find kind of my new relationship with God. . . it had transformed a little bit, and I was a little nervous about coming back into that kind of a space but I did so because I felt like it was necessary, for myself and for my health,” explains AnnaMarie, who decided to attend after one of her friends started coming to events hosted by the Sisters. The beauty and serenity of the grounds, and being able to “say pretty much anything that you are feeling without feeling judged or being told, no you’re wrong,” helped her to “come to peace with some things.”
She left with new connections, grateful to have found community, something that Sara, who celebrated her 31st birthday on the day of the retreat, says many young adults are seeking. “People my age, when you went to college, it was really easy to make friends because everyone was in the same place in life. Once you enter the workplace, sometimes it’s a little more difficult to make genuine friends.” Supportive friendships are crucial to navigating those “big transitions” in life, she adds, as is finding time alone to spend with God. “I hadn’t really had a lot of time to myself since my son was born, and so this retreat was kind of perfect. . . to have some quiet time to myself for a whole day, with God, and with other people who were my peers, so I could talk about my spiritual journey with them too.”
Both moved closer to God through their experience on the grounds, sitting with Mary in the Grotto, praying the labyrinth, being able to “slow down and maybe see something you wouldn’t have seen,” Sara explains, describing her delight at finding a small, purple flower in bloom in the labyrinth on a mid-November day. The warmth and welcoming spirit of the Sisters helped each to feel at home, and they hope more young people will make the time and the effort to venture outside their comfort zones to find deeper meaning and the connections that await. AnnaMarie encourages those who might be nervous to attend a retreat that while “it might feel a little intimidating at first, it’s also going to, as the day goes on, feel peaceful, exciting, and challenging, and you’re going to wonder. . . I don’t know how I’m going to come out of this on the other end without being changed in some way.”
The next ‘Listening to the Spirit’ retreat for young adults will take place Saturday, February 29 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with the option to stay overnight. Cost is $10 for the day or $20 to stay overnight.