Sabbatical Reflection: Sr. Marla Monahan, SND

Posted on: January 14, 2015 9:10 am

Sr. Marla Monahan, SND

Srs. Marla Monahan, Mary Dennise Wagenlander, and Mary Lynette Shelton, having recently completed leadership terms after many years of ministry, were blessed to participate in a sabbatical period in fall 2014. This sabbath time was a chance to step out of their regular ministries, to have time with God, and to be renewed. Their sabbaticals differed in location, theme, and daily schedules, but all three returned to Covington refreshed, open to whatever new ministry God is calling them to, and eager to share what they experienced with our friends and partners in mission.

"I recently completed a Sabbatical at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University in Berkeley, CA.  This “Sabbath time” was a time to renew and re-energize before moving into a new ministry.  I was part of a group of 13 priests and religious from eight countries, and each of us audited two classes and participated in weekly workshops on renewal and transition.

Graduate students including Jesuits, priests, women and men religious, and laypersons learn together on this very diverse international campus.  The Jesuit School of Theology is part of a consortium of several schools of theology (Graduate Theological Union) adding a rich ecumenical dimension.

The two classes I audited were Experiments in Prayer with professor Rev. George Murphy, SJ and Liberation and Tradition with professor Rev. Kevin Burke, SJ.  These courses, the faculty and students, the Eucharistic Liturgies, and other liturgical experiences allowed me to deepen my relationship with God and my commitment to service in the world.

Something significant for me from each of the classes:

  • Regarding prayer and our call to deepen our relationship with God, St. Teresa of Avila wrote The Way of Perfection at the request of her religious sisters. She reminds us that each of us will find our own path to God, even though there are many books and teachings on prayer. She also offers advice on how to pray, “I’m not asking you now that you think about Him or that you draw out a lot of concepts or make long and subtle reflections with your intellect.  I’m not asking you to do anything more than look at Him… God/Jesus never takes His eyes off you…”
  • Regarding liberation, in proclaiming the Reign of God, Jesus welcomes sinners and liberates them from themselves.  His “welcoming” includes absolution, but goes beyond it.  For those who sin “from weakness” – the conversion required is acceptance of the fact that God comes not to condemn, but to save – so there is not fear, but joy at God’s coming.  The God who comes is a loving God, a God of tenderness and mercy, one who seeks to welcome all those who think themselves unworthy because of their sinfulness, resulting in liberation from one’s own inner principle of enslavement.

Pope Francis’ recent letter on the Year of Consecrated Life suggests three aims for this year of renewal for all people:  to look to the past with gratitude, to live the present with passion, and to embrace the future with hope. This Sabbatical has blessed me with gratitude, passion, and hope."

-Sr. Marla Monahan, SND

Click here to read Sr. Mary Lynette Shelton's Sabbatical Reflection

Click here to read Sr. Mary Dennise Wagenlander's Sabbatical Reflection

Date: on January 16, 2015


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