Rams Horn - DOC - DOC by 96CR9mN7


									                        Rams Horn
Marriage Retorno Newsletter                         Winter 2004

Strengthening Marriages Through Scriptural Prayer      Vol. 103

Letter from the Editors: Beglad!

Just recently, on the Feast of Our Lord’s Baptism, our family had the joy of witnessing our youngest
grand daughter’s baptism. Celebrating baptisms during our Sunday Eucharistic celebrations makes
them all the more powerful. Of course, this one had special significance for us. Perhaps that is why
we were so attentive to the readings and homily that morning. Every detail, every word spoken and
sung, and every grace filled emotion were savored. The homilist shared with us a Hebrew definition of
“sin”, using the analogy of being “bent over, and burdened”. He then went on to explain that it is
through baptism that we receive the graces to stand straight and tall, having been freed of the
burden of sin through God’s mercy and forgiveness.

Those thoughts lingered in my mind as I took my early morning walk the very next day. During the
winter months, when the hardwood trees have all lost their leaves, our pine trees take center stage.
Until living here, we never appreciated their beauty or majesty. Watching them sway to and fro –
particularly during stormy weather, they appear so vulnerable and fragile. However, we know their
strength, particularly after a storm, when they once again stand up straight and tall. As I admired
the beauty of the trees that morning, I could not help but recall the words I had heard during mass
the previous day. It occurred to me that we are very much like those pine trees. The awareness of
sin or even the lack of faith during difficult times can lead to feeling burdened – to the point of being
bent over. That posture keeps us from looking up. It may perhaps even keep us from prayer, and
deprives us of a spirit of thankfulness. When we are “bent over”, it is more difficult to reach out to
others or even notice an outstretched hand trying to help us. Nonetheless, the gift of grace in our
lives heals us as we experience God’s forgiveness and mercy. It is the fullness of God’s presence in us
that lifts the burden and allows us to stand straight and tall with arms outstretched like those trees,
in praise and thanksgiving. It is that grace that allows us to live out our baptismal promise of
discipleship – to be the good stewards God calls us to be; to be seekers of truth and listen to the
voice of God in and around us. When Ben and I joined in prayer after my walk that morning, I shared
with him these thoughts. Now, when we look at the trees, we are constantly reminded of the gift of
God’s grace in our lives, to stand tall and not allow ourselves to becomes burdened or bent over.

In this issue, we share with you the first two presentations from the Fall Conference – whose theme
was “Come to the Waters... and Experience the Healing Power of God’s Love”. This theme continues to
be so present in our spiritual journey! As Joe and Mary Ward will describe to you in their article, the
conference was a truly wonderful and inspiring event. In subsequent issues, we will share the
remaining talks, which were all spectacular! We know you will enjoy them.

As we proceed through this new year of 2004, our hope is that we may see the healing power of God’s
love in the everyday events of our lives, whether it is in the beauty of our world, in our prayer
experiences, or in the relationships we share with others. May we hear God’s voice speaking to us and
may we all stand tall.
                                                                Gladys & Ben Whitehouse

From Joe & Mary Ward
Dear friends,
The Fall Marriage Retorno Conference at Trinity Center on the outer banks of North Carolina was
more than a success. It was a resounding blessed event.
First, the environment was outstanding. Our fears that hurricane Isabel would wipe out the retreat
house were unfounded as Isabel landed about 50 miles north, leaving only minor damage to the
facility. They were back in business a few days after the storm, delayed mostly by power outages
in the area. The Lord answered all of our prayers.
How grateful we were that the Trinity Center was spared the damage suffered further North. It was
an excellent place for our conference, set right on the Atlantic Ocean, where the sound of the surf
and the beautiful sunlit sandy beach enhanced out times of sharing, praying and playing. Thank
you Ben & Gladys Whitehouse for arranging the conference at this lovely location, and for the
transportation and lodging services you provided for many of the couples attending.
Second the presentations on reconciliation and healing were inspired. This was evident by the
sharing sessions. There were tears, smiles, laughter and hugs enough to prove the Holy Spirit was
truly "In The House", as they say now a days. For all the beautiful and filling content, we are very
grateful to; Adrien & Mary Clare Auger for their reconciliation presentation; Dave & Lillie James;
Jack & Vicki Owoc; Norman & Delores Schauls; Tom & Karen Sink for their sharing on healing in
their lives. Using the Retorno rhythm everyone had time to assess how they were living these
topics in their own lives and to experience the gentle touch of the Lord as we prayed for healing.
The experience for us was very rewarding. Just being with all the beautiful people attending is
always uplifting. Like being with real family. We seem to pick up just where we were before, as if
little time had passed since last being together. Then there was all the support we felt. We could
not have put this conference together without all the prayers and loving support. How filled we were
with the love of everyone present and those that could not be there. Then this was topped by the
time we were able to spend sharing and praying with the scriptures. Both of us shared how, at
times during prayer, we could feel the healing waves of God’s love washing over us as we listened
to the sound of the surf. At times the waves were gentle and soothing and we were able to relish
His presence, and there were times when the waves crashed on the beach, recalling the need to
be awake to where the Lord is calling us to change.
How we wish we could repeat this experience more often. We are always so revitalized by these
conferences. Like receiving a great battery charge. The Energizer Bunny has nothing on this
experience. Yet we know all too well what it takes to make these gatherings successful. Maybe that
is why they provide such a lift to our spiritual life. All the love and prayers by those preparing the
conferences flows into all present as we share and celebrate God’s love for each and everyone
present. Hope to see many of you at our next refueling conference in Independence MO. Save the
date: November 12-15, 2004.
Love, Joe and Mary
as presented at the 2003 RM Conference by Adrien and Mary Clare Auger
                                                      It struck me how cloistered monks became aware
Adrien:                                               that one’s greatest strength was also where the sin
Mary Clare and I would like first to take a few       of pride could be found. To serve God fully, we
moments to share with you how we decided on           had to be aware of His gifts, while at the same
ideas for tonight’s Reconciliation Service that       time be aware of how we can fall into the sin of
Mary, Joe and Mel asked us to do. We tried            pride. I felt strongly that this was the challenge
working together, but we made little progress. So     we were called to look at closely.
we decided to work separately and then see if we
could find something that we both felt comfortable    Adrien:
with.                                                 From having prepared talks for Marriage
                                                      Encounter Weekends, I was familiar with the
I wrote down some ideas, typed them up and gave       paradox of one’s greatest virtue also being one’s
them to Mary Clare as sort of a first draft of what   greatest fault. I decided this paradox might be
we might do. I was disappointed when she was          something we should examine. At first, I had
less than enthusiastic about what I had drafted.      difficulty understanding why God would gift me
Was it maybe because I had not prayed with her        with some special good trait when it could be
before I plunged ahead?! Mary Clare wanted to         corrupted by sin. Then, of course, I realized that
find a way toward reconciliation that would           God has given me FREE WILL. He’s never
challenge the two of us. I agreed that my draft       forced MY will to conform to HIS. He lets me
needed work.                                          make my own choices . . . and there are
                                                      COUNTLESS choices I constantly must make . . .
Mary Clare:                                           for better or for worse, confronted, as I am, by the
When I went off to pray and meditate alone, I         world, the flesh, and yes . . . the devil himself.
found I was in the desert…NOTHING!! So I was          And sometimes I haven’t made very good choices.
eager to find out what might have inspired Adrien.    I know that God loves me, even though I’ve
When I read his ideas, I felt very uneasy .. . .      sinned. Through, Christ, He’s provided the way
something was missing; but I had no idea what it      for me to be reconciled with Him, and to receive
was. I began to worry that we would never be able     His forgiveness. But I need to be more aware of
to do this presentation. Would what we came up        what leads me to hurt someone, and then
with be “good enough”?!                               acknowledge and confess my sin in order to be
                                                      blessed with the peace that only God can give.
We began to pray more together, now with great        When was the last time I really made a searching
urgency, begging God to help us. We re-read all       examination of conscience, of my heart and
the Scripture passages we had selected, and the       attitudes?
importance and energy of God’s word poured over
us again; but how should we proceed? Glancing         This was going to be different. I was being
around the room I saw the book, The Cloistered        challenged to find a positive strength I had that
Walk, by Kathleen Norris. I remembered how            could also lead me to sin. I found this difficult
each chapter had challenged me; and I quickly         and asked Mary Clare for help. She asked me to
turned to the chapter titled “Good Old Sin.”          think of some service I had done lovingly and to
                                                      look more closely at my heart. Again I found it
difficult so Mary Clare suggested that one thing I      work and could have shown Adrien the scam
do lovingly for her is to clean up the kitchen after    before he paid the fee. We both asked for, and
meals, including stacking the dishwasher; but           received, forgiveness from one another, now with
when she tried to help me, I’d get upset that she       greater understanding of how easy it is to fall into
didn’t put things in “right” . . . at least the way I   the sin of pride.
thought the dishes, glasses, etc. should be stacked.
                                                        Then we remembered Mary’s e-mail about being
I recalled other times when I had shooed away           sure we have a true couple vivencia . . . the
others who offered to help, saying, “This is MY         challenge now was to find a recent way we have
job!” It was, of course, a help to the family for       sinned as a couple. Once more we asked
me to put away the food, wash the pots and pans         ourselves, what do we do well, and what has not
and clean up the kitchen after a meal . . . but what    gone right. We both came up with maybe we
really was behind my declining offers of help?          should examine why we’ve delayed contacting our
Maybe thoughts such as “I do it better than others.     archdiocese to introduce ourselves and talk about
I don’t need any help. It would only slow things        the gift of the Retorno weekend. Could this be a
down rather than be helpful to have to teach            sin of pride??
someone the “proper” way to load our dishwasher.
I don’t have the patience to take the time to show      Adrien:
them how. I don’t want to be present to you right       Yes, pride is also behind this. I realized I had
this minute. Can’t you see I’m busy? Go away!           been listening to deceptive half-truths of Satan.
I’m the only one who can load this right!” Whose        Can’t you just hear him whispering in my ear?!
promptings to my ego and pride were these? . . .
not those of the Holy Spirit . . . but Satan’s! … and    “Adrien, take pride. You’re doing a GREAT job
I had fallen into sin while doing something good!]      volunteering your time, talents and even treasure
                                                        for your neighborhood community, serving on the
Mary Clare                                              Board of Directors and on several committees of
Last month Adrien called to my attention a plan         your neighborhood homes association, and for
offered by our mortgage company to pay down             your parish, preparing engaged couples for the
our loan faster and save on interest payments. He       sacrament of marriage for your parish, and for
wanted me to look at it right away because there        your former parish, with Mary Clare, and giving
was a deadline and a non-refundable fee involved.       talks with her on marital spirituality at archdiocese
Now I was very busy at the time with other things       programs, helping to count Sunday mass
and gave it a quick glance . . . it seemed OK to me     collections, etc., etc.
so I said sure if he thought it was OK. To make a
long story short, last week a list of special           You also have important jobs with regard to
considerations and directions had to be signed and      influencing your son, Brian, who still lives at
I discovered it was a scam. I was so angry . . .        home, and with your grandchildren when you
why didn’t Adrien realize how scams work?               baby-sit them. And now you have a further
Couldn’t he see that there was a better way to          opportunity with your son, Michael, and his wife
accomplish the same thing with no fee and greater       who are staying with you until their damaged
flexibility?!                                           home can be repaired.

When Adrien told me that my strength was in              Besides, the INTERNET is really the way to
math, I agreed. I pay the bills on time, balance the    make the Retorno known to couples that are
checkbook and keep us well within our budget . . .      looking for marital spirituality programs. Why,
and suddenly I realized that I was the one who fell     just last month, didn’t you get calls from separate
for the scam. Adrien had asked for my help and I        groups in Maryland and Northern Virginia seeking
did not give it . . . and my anger at him came from     information about having a Retorno weekend after
my pride. I did not want to acknowledge that I          they first learned about Retorno off the
was the one scammed because I know how they             INTERNET?! Why waste your time putting
Retorno pamphlets in church racks, calling the         we are and able to fool us. Satan always fights
archdiocese, and making similar efforts when           hardest when his goal of drawing us AWAY from
those haven’t borne fruit nor proved successful up     God is in danger. But the GOOD news is that we
to now? Doesn’t that seem kind of foolish?!”           know Jesus is greater than Satan and all of his evil
                                                       spiritual cohorts. That’s why Jesus told us to pray
                                                       to the Father, asking Him to deliver us from evil.
Mary Clare:
And I agreed with everything Adrien shared with
me in this regard . . . Why, I, too, was busy, as he   We know that we are a work in progress. Only
was. I even added to the litany: Why do we want        God knows how much time we have left on our
to have the door slammed on us again? Haven’t          pilgrimage here on earth before He calls us home
we already been there, done that?!! Haven’t we         for an accounting. We know that God loves us,
done enough?! Let’s try to find another way ---        warts and all . . . with love so infinite and
what way I have no idea. Do we really want to          unconditional, and so much greater than we can
keep knocking at a door that never seems to            ever begin to fully comprehend. When we
open?!                                                 consider our unworthy state, His grace is truly
We realized we were letting our lack of success
dictate our actions. Was this pride? Mother            Mary Clare:
Theresa reminded us that we were not called to be      We prepared for this weekend by daily praying the
successful in the world’s eyes, but rather to be       prayer of Jabez, which Joe and Mary spoke of at
faithful to God’s plan. We all want to be              the conference last year in California. It’s become
successful, of course, but can we accept being         a source of strength for us and is making a
Unsuccessful . . . but faithful?! Can we let God       difference in our daily lives . . . and, as we’re also
use us HIS way, and with His timing?                   finding out, in the lives of those God puts us in
                                                       contact with.
We found ourselves asking God’s forgiveness for
OUR sin of pride, this time as a couple.               Preparing for this weekend presented a wonderful
                                                       opportunity for us to experience God’s infinite,
Adrien:                                                unconditional love . . . for us to draw closer to
Satan and his cohorts sure are clever in using half-   each other and to Him, to confess our sins, and to
truths and twisting the truth!! Mary Clare and I       be reconciled with each other, and with Him. Now
pray now to be able to recognize our selfish pride,    on this weekend, we want to rejoice in His
and listen more to God’s Holy Spirit, rather than      forgiveness, be healed, and experience abundant
be concerned with the world’s “wisdom,” or how         blessings, even miracles God wants for us and for
foolish we may appear in the eyes of the worldly.      our loved ones. And, we only have to ask Him.
Can we humble ourselves and be a “fool for
Christ”? Or will we continue to be fooled, from        Oh, God, bless us, everyone, indeed!!
time to time, ensnared by the devil’s wiles, deceit
and appeals to our egos. The devil is smarter than

Questions for reflection:
What is my strength? What gift has God given me?
Remember a time when your gift from God enabled you to help someone.
When have I used my gift but the result was not what I wanted?
Was I upset? . . . with others? . . . with my spouse? … with myself?

Healing of the Spirit
as presented at the 2003 MR Conference by Norman and Delores Schauls

My Name is Norman Schauls, Delores and I have
been married 46 years I was ordained Deacon in        We were both very excited that we had something
2001. Delores and I did our first Marriage Retorno    we could do together and be involved in church
about 15 years ago. We are from Waterloo, Iowa.       work. It was time for an evening to get out and
                                                      celebrate with a quiet dinner and romantic
Last December at a Christmas party, Mike and          activities couples enjoy. You may use your own
Maureen Oates got us each off, to the side            imagination on these activities.
separately and invited us to join them on this
adventure. We were excited about this opportunity     We realized if we wanted to walk on water with
to join them on this trip. One day a few weeks        Jesus is time to get out of the boat and do
later I was chatting with Mike with email and at      something. Embrace God’s love to grow closer to
the bottom on one of the messages Mike informed       him and each other.
us we would be doing this presentation at the
conference. Oh, that’s the catch. And here we are.    This lay ministry formation program was
                                                      everything we had hoped for; we were connecting
Some 10 years ago we were experiencing a              with Jesus and gaining confidence in our ability to
spiritual hunger in our life. We were preparing for   work with others. Growing closer to each other.
retirement with a desire to become more active
and supportive in our parish community. Our           Our joyous moments were short lived however. It
concerns include our lack of skills and training to   was just a few months after we started our training
do church work and our lack on confidence in our      that our daughter called and stated that she was
own abilities.                                        leaving her husband and coming home. Her
                                                      husband had been abusive for years and she had
In the spring of 1993 we received an invitation       had enough.
form our parish to join a Lay formation program in
our Archdiocese. The description of the program       I still remember how I choked up on the word
was welcome news for us. If offered spiritual         “divorce” when we tried to share this with family
development activities, training in various parish    and friends. As far as Delores and I were
ministries, from family support to homebound,         concerned divorce would not have been an option.
hospital ministries. Marriage ministries, teaching    Soon after our daughter arrived home with the
in both children’s and adult religious education.     children we realized there would be not
This looked like something we could both do to        reconciliation in this marriage.
find our own ministry and activity to support our
parish.                                               Delores and I both had the love and well being of
                                                      our daughter and the children as our main
In the busyness of our lives we did not really take   objective at this time. However, we were both on
time to discuss this until one afternoon when is      different pages on how to accomplish our goals.
time to turn in an application. It turned out there
was not need for discussion on this. We both had      This difference in how to move forward resulted
made the decision to do take part in this Lay         in the two of us going down different paths to
ministry formation program without discussion.        help. Than our own relationship really started to
suffer. There were times we could not discuss          Our day concluded with a romantic dinner as part
anything in a civil manner. It seemed the only         of the weekend. Our personal time that evening
thing we were together on was our Lay ministry         was spent in prayer and each others arms sharing,
project.                                               praying, talking, we took a shower together, a
                                                       special treat for us, give it a try sometime. The
The time spent driving to and from our monthly         pajamas remained in the suitcase that night.
training sessions were a time for us to have a few
civil moments and discussion with each other. A        Remember we do not live or act alone. God is with
time when we could each feel a spiritual presence,     us every step of the way. Our challenge is to be
and love.                                              mindful of his divine presence and to act in accord
                                                       with God’s will. Inviting God into our lives.
It really got to the point that we could agree on
very little when it came to how to assist our          That weekend we got out of the boat and walked
daughter and the children. I know our                  on the water with each other embracing Jesus love.
relationships with the other children and their
families suffered also.                                                        
                                                       I’m Delores Schauls, Deacon Norman’s Wife. As
We kept moving further apart in our relationship.      you know Deacon Wives, always have the last
After a few months of this we knew it was time for     word. I’m a homemaker, and we have five
us to fix our own relationship first, if we were to    married children and seventeen grandchildren,
be of help to anyone else. Time to get out of the
boat and do something. We realized doing nothing       Yes it was the year 1994 that was a very stressful
would destroy everything in our lives.                 time in our married life. Looking back I was so
                                                       blessed to have the hand of Jesus, Norman and my
We choose a World Wide marriage encounter              family to help me make the right decisions.
weekend to heal our relationship. This turned out
to be a wonderful healing spiritual experience for     Norman was working at the John Deere Factory as
us. After each presentation this marriage encounter    a tool maker and I was working at the Goodwill
weekend, we spent time separately writing about        store as a clerk and cashier, when our daughter,
our hurts and feelings.                                Maureen, came home from Georgia, with 4 little
                                                       boys to live with us as she was divorcing her
Than spending time together reading and sharing        abusive army husband.
these feeling and hurts with each other privately.
During the progress of this weekend we could           Norman and I didn’t know how we would deal
each feel a spiritual presence returning to our        with divorce because we were brought up Catholic
relationship with very special feelings for God and    and we were told Catholic’s didn’t get divorced.
each other.                                            Because Norman and I have different ideas on
                                                       how we could best help our daughter and her four
The most moving spiritual activity of this weekend     little children, we became disconnected as a
for me was the 90 minutes I spent writing to           couple.
Delores telling her why I wanted to spend the rest
of my life with her. This was the shortest 90          The children became very abusive and our ex-son
minutes I have ever spent doing anything in my         –in-law threatened our family. As a result, our life
life.                                                  turned to chaos, and fear took over all our lives.
                                                       Although he wasn’t able to give emotional support
The time we spent sharing these feeling and what       to our daughter and the children, Norman was very
we had written to each other, and rekindling our       helpful in the financial area, providing them with a
love for each other was filled with a lot of tears,    used car, a lawyer, and school expenses. While all
"I’m sorry", and a pledge to put all the past behind   the time I felt what Maureen and the children
us and move forward with Jesus.                        needed was loving care. I knew we would over
come our fear in time. Little children learn by       died in September. However, she always told us
example. When Norman and our grandson sat             when she got to heaven, we would know it.
down to eat lunch, I said, “Start eating!” My
grandson said, “What about Grandpa Norm’s             It was a bright sunny day and her funeral mass
Father?” I questioned him, “Grandpa Norm’s            was inspiring, and gave us many memories to
Father? Who?” And he put his hand to his              reflect upon. However, Norman was unable to be
forehead and said, “In The Name of the Father...”     with me as he was in the Hospital at the time. Our
remembering we had said Grace the day before at       family felt the angles were all around us when the
mealtime. Another time after the new baby sister      choir sang the song, “Our Lord sent Down Ten
was born, I said, “Where did you get such a           Thousand Angles to bring this Lady to Heaven:”
beautiful baby girl?” The little 4 year old stated,
“God was just giving out girls that day.”             In the late Afternoon the sky clouded over and big
                                                      drops of rain fell from the sky for a few minutes.
Aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins and friends in   After a while the grand children came running
our Lay Ministry group provided us with much          around the house and picnic tables where we were
support through their prayers.                        sitting, exclaiming, “Grandma is in heaven!
                                                      Grandma is in heaven! See the rainbow? See the
Norman and I talked when we could, and said this      rainbow? She said she would send us a sign when
couldn’t be happening to us. We worked when we        she got to heaven.”
could. We slept when we could, --where ever we
could. We prayed The Hail Mary it seamed like all     We looked up with tears in our eyes to see the
the time.                                             beautiful rainbow over St. Pat’s Church in
                                                      Waukon, IA. At that time I knew Jesus had
As a result I became Super Mom, cooking,              reached out his hand to help me out of the boat.
cleaning, washing clothes, and keeping the four
little boys in line. So I didn’t have time to help     Norman had a successful surgery, is now retired,
Norman with what ever he needed and he didn’t         was ordained a Deacon. He loves his wife, his
have the energy to support Maureen and the kids       grand children, and his computer. Our lovely
with all of their problems or me either.              daughter Maureen has remarried and the 4 big
As a result of the stress, Norman become ill with     boys now, have a little brother and a baby sister,
Crohn’s disease and was hospitalized. Also that       Kathleen named after my mother.
fall, my mother became ill with heart failure and

Healing of the Spirit as presented at the             Karen:
2003 MR Conference by Tom and Karen Sink              Tom was ordained a deacon 24 years ago this
                                                      month. I remember standing up when asked if I
Tom:                                                  agreed to his ordination and I knew we were in
In the early 1970’s after hearing a homily on         this together, so I said, “Yes.” We lived in Cedar
something new called the permanent deaconate          Falls, IA at the time and Tom worked for John
Karen and I discussed the possibility for us. We      Deere. We had three children and we were settled
prayed about the subject, looked at how it might      in a vibrant, caring parish. But Deere wanted to
affect us and then made the decision to apply. We     transfer Tom to the Quad Cities, some 2 ½ hours
were accepted and not long after that we found        away from our families, circle of very supportive
ourselves in the formation process. Three and one     friends and our parish. We knew the promotion
half years later we had finished the formation        would make a difference at retirement time and so
program. Now we asked ourselves the question:         we made the move. Again, we asked the question
“What is God asking of us? If for some reason the     “Just what was it that God was looking for from
Church decides not to ordain me then what? Will       us? How would he reveal it to us? What would be
God help us realize what he wants from us?”           the price of continuing to trust God?”
Tom:                                                 Karen:
To our surprise we found a parish in Bettendorf,     Well, as you can imagine, this changed our life
one of the Quad Cities, that resembled the parish    style a great deal. We watched our menu, we
we were leaving, but we knew there would never       exercised, and we seemed to be making headway.
be a group of friends quite like the ones we were    After a few weeks Tom went back to the work at
leaving.                                             the diocese. He watched the hours and in 11
                                                     months he completed the major revision of the
Karen:                                               formation and on-going support program for the
Tom continued working for Deere and parish life      diocese. At this point Tom knew he needed to
seemed to bump along. While we made friends we       resign since it wasn’t a paying job and the hours
still returned to Cedar Falls as often as possible   were beginning to get longer and longer and the
since we had been friends with that group for 12     responsibilities were getting overwhelming.
or 13 years. Then the day came when Tom was
offered early retirement. For a while we drove       Tom:
automobiles for Enterprise Rent-a-Car all over the   When I first retired our parish asked a number of
country delivering them to their rental agencies.    people to establish and operate a program once a
                                                     week for the season of Lent. We began a Thursday
Tom:                                                 evening program that invited people to pray and
In December 1995 I was approached about              discuss the content of each coming Sunday gospel
becoming the director of the deaconate office for    during Lent. As the season of Lent drew to a close
the Diocese of Davenport, IA, another one of the     people said they wanted to continue the
Quad Cities. I began the new position in January     experience. By the time I resigned the position at
1995. But, within a month I knew I had a serious     the diocese it was obvious this was a viable
problem. I didn’t want to tell Karen because there   process that had a life of its own. Over the next
had already been enough change in our lives. I was   few years two parishes added the materials we
having dull pain in my right arm, across my upper    were self-publishing to their RCIA process.
back and sometimes in my right jaw and neck. I
still remember the conversation Karen started one    Karen:
Sunday morning after Mass in February of 1995.       About this time I went to work full time for
                                                     Enterprise Rent-A-Car in their regional office.
Karen:                                               Tom was doing consulting in the Davenport
I knew something was wrong, and Tom seemed           diocese for parish council re-organization, mission
distracted that morning. I turned to him and asked   statement development, goals and objectives
him point blank, “What’s the problem. I know         setting for parishes and parish council
something is wrong and you’re not talking about      effectiveness assessment.
Tom:                                                 Then, one day out of the blue came a phone call
Actually Karen started the conversation with,        from the pastor of a neighboring parish. “Will you
“Listen, buster…” I told her what the problem was    come and talk to me about hiring someone to
and that week I visited with our family doctor and   become our pastoral associate. One of the things I
he sent us to see a cardiologist and testing         want to explore is the possibility of a deacon as a
confirmed there was some blockage. The               pastoral associate. And so began a six month
following week I had angioplasty. Following the      series of conversations about what the pastor was
procedure I was visited by a social worker. Among    looking for, what the needs of his parish were and
the first questions she asked were: “Do you feel     if there really was a reason to select a deacon as a
anger at this happening to you? Do you wonder        pastoral associate.
why God would let this happen now? Are you
concerned about the future?” Yeah, I asked
myself, “Why now? Why me? What next?”
Karen:                                                  Karen:
Of course the pastor ended up offering Tom the          Following Tom’s Angiogram the cardiologist
position. At the same time the bishop asked that        visited with me – it was worse than they thought
we keep our membership at St. John Vianney even         and there was no choice but by-pass surgery and
though Tom’s week would be spent with the               he told me they wanted to do the surgery as soon
people of Our Lady of Lourdes. The pastor of the        as possible. They immediately moved Tom ahead
parish where we would worship was angry about           of the line for surgery the next morning
Tom’s acceptance of the position at the other
parish in town. Again, we found ourselves asking        Tom:
about what God wanted from us. Was the move             Our youngest daughter and her husband had just
from one parish to the next really part of his plan.    had their second child in the same hospital, and so
                                                        that evening Karen and I signed the medical power
Tom:                                                    of attorney and the living will information and we
About the time I joined the staff of the new parish     went upstairs so I could hold our new grandson
three of the publishers we had approached with the
book we had been working on called us and               Karen:
expressed interest in working with us to get the        I got to the hospital the next morning just as Tom
book published. While Karen worked at Enterprise        was sedated for the trip to surgery, and then began
I spent every spare minute re-writing an opening        the longest day I’ve had in a long time, friends and
prayer for each of the Sunday’s in the three-year       family sat with me during the day. One of Tom’s
cycle. It was also about this time that we decided      brothers drove down from Cedar Falls and we
to spend the Christmas holidays with our oldest         went in, one at a time, to see how Tom was doing.
daughter and her family in Texas. It was during         I warned everyone that he wouldn’t look good.
this trip that I caught a bad cold that lingered long
after returning home.                                   Tom:
                                                        When Karen got to the hospital the next morning I
Karen: Tom’s visit to the doctor ended up with          was out of bed, sitting in a chair, drinking my
him on antibiotics trying to fight a strain of flu.     breakfast and later that day Karen pushed my I.V.
But, the tests returned the news that Tom had           stand and we went for a short walk
Type 2 diabetes (adult onset) Along with the
diabetes diagnosis Tom was also told he had             Karen:
congestive heart failure.                               Tom had surgery on a Friday and the following
                                                        Monday afternoon I took him home; the recovery
Tom:                                                    time was un-eventful (other than the car ride we
Again, I was asked to visit with a social worker to     took the next day, that is, until the visiting nurse
talk about my reaction to the news. The same            set Tom straight about taking more care)
questions: “Are you angry about the diagnosis?          Tom:
Can you handle the future? Will your faith sustain      Following the by-pass surgery I received visits
you? What about your family?” Things were               from a social worker. Again, “Was I angry
stacking up. Why were these things happening?           because these things happened to me? Why had
Were we really following God’s will for us? With        they happened to me? Why would God allow
Karen’s encouragement I was beginning to get my         these things?” Our spiritual lives, and indeed our
blood sugars’ under control. But, within a few          day-to-day lives, revolved around our relationship
months of that time I began waking up in the            with each other and with God, and now it seemed
middle of the night with difficulty breathing and       as if he was testing us, and maybe evening
slight chest pains; my right arm again showed           abandoning us.
numbness and the old familiar upper back ache
was back; I knew I needed to see the cardiologist       Karen:
again                                                   Both of us had given up a great deal of our time
                                                        and other resources to be involved in Church. Our
children even asked us “Where are you going              Karen:
tonight?” – not “Are you going somewhere                 We were able to support our children through
tonight?” Each time something major happened in          some difficult experiences and concentrate on their
our life we prayed about it, tested the answers to       needs.
see if we were following God’s plan, or were we
doing our own thing. Each time we discerned our          Tom:
active faith lives were rooted firmly in what we         The heart surgeon, Dr. Tom Mabee, asked me
believed God wanted for us. Then, if that was the        during subsequent visits tracking the results of the
case, why did these kinds of problems beset us?          surgery what I though of the idea of having prayer
                                                         partners as part of his surgical team. These people
Tom:                                                     would pray with the team before, during and after
A few weeks after the by-pass surgery, and just          the surgery. Later, I found out that Dr. Mabee had
before I was to start physical therapy to get back       quit going to Church years before.
on my feet, we were setting down to lunch. When
I looked over at Karen all I could see was her face.     Karen:
Everything else in the room became hazy. At that         Now we realize that grace is best recognized in
moment I realized that the morning I went into           hindsight, and that it is in the most trying of times
surgery may have been the last time I would see          that the deepest sources of grace are found. That
her in this world. As I started to tell her the sudden   sometimes we are both tired beyond belief from
realization both of us began to cry.                     being present to so many people and through so
                                                         many experiences and then we realize this is what
Karen:                                                   living is about, this is what faith is about, about
All of the tension, all of the questioning why these     trust, about knowing that whatever the reason God
things were happening in our lives, all the other        is there beside us.
myriad of things we were handling along with
long hours involved in parish life came to the           Tom:
forefront. Just what was it that God wanted from         Any anger about our experiences is gone. Each
us? Why did these kinds of things happen?                day we take a deep breath and let God lead us on,
                                                         knowing that because we are created in his image
Tom:                                                     and likeness he must love us deeply.
It wasn’t until we made the move back to Cedar
Falls where I became the pastoral associate in the
parish we had left to move to the Quad Cities that       ...Peter walked on the water to get to Jesus. When
the realization there were some reasons for our          he saw the wind he was afraid: and beginning to
move and experiences. I baptized our youngest            sink, he cried out, saying, “Lord save me!” Jesus
son-in-law when he joined the church not long            reached out his hand to pull him to safety. How
after our move to Our Lady of Lourdes parish.            many times has Jesus reached out his hand to pull
                                                         you to safety?
We grew closer together because we didn’t have           “If you want to walk on water you have to get out
family around to support us.                             of the boat and embrace Jesus’ love with your
Tom:                                                                           Iowa MR Team
Our dear friends, among who are Mike and
Maureen, supported us through the nearly 15 years
we were away.

Trinity Center, Atlantic Beach, NC, a beautiful spot for our conference. Sitting on the porch on a rocking chair
praying with Scripture and hearing the waves pound on the beach just yards away. It doesn’t get any better than
this! Many thanks and kudos to Ben and Gladys Whitehouse for hosting the Conference and making us all feel
welcome. Ben and Gladys did yeoman duties housing and transporting couples for the conference. Their gracious
hospitality helped to make the conference so conducive to prayer and meditation.

Sandra and Lamberto Rodriquez (southern California) brought Lupe and Leo Hernandez to the conference.
Sandra and Lamberto wanted them to experience the MR community at the national level. Lupe and Leo shared
their musical and artistic talents with us. The Hernandez are the cooks and reservation couple for the Spanish MR
weekends in southern California.

Sandra and Lamberto Rodriquez and Dick and Maureen Nirschl had a very positive experience at the
Worldwide ME conference in Illinois this summer. They enthusiastically distributed MR brochures and talked to
many couples about MR. Sandra was able to get eMatrimony.com to put a link on their web site to the Marriage
Retorno web site. As a result of both couples’ efforts, there will be MR weekends in quite a few areas of the
country this year. We offer many thanks to them for their zeal for MR.

Tony and Marianne Hartmann (TN) shared their deep involvement in their parish, which has grown
exponentially since they moved to Tennessee. They are also thespians! Their community theater enjoys Tony’s
tenor voice and Marianne’s help backstage. They continue to give Cursillo weekends and the follow-up program.

Adrien and Mary Clare Auger (Md) have graciously assumed the task of treasurer for MR. The Augers shared
beautifully on reconciliation and conducted a reconciliation service on Friday night of the conference. We thank
them for all they do for MR.

Mike and Maureen Oates (IA) have agreed to prepare a “kit” for couples who want to bring MR to their
community. It will contain a checklist of what steps to take as well as sample publicity items to advertise the
weekend. Of course brochures will be part of the package. The office frequently gets inquiries about attending a
MR in a particular area of the country. Oftentimes there is no one in that area who gives MR weekends. We
encourage them to organize a weekend and we will help them as much as possible by providing a team, etc.
(Usually Dave and Lillie James are the couple who follows up on this). We felt that it would be helpful for
couples/priests to have something in hand to help facilitate the process of bringing a weekend to a new area.

Fr. Mel Hemann (IA) took advantage of the opportunity to reach his goal of landing his plane in every state in the
continental US. Fr. Mel landed in PA and visited with us before the conference. He and Joe enjoyed a day visiting
the historic sights of Philadelphia. Enroute to the conference from our house, Fr. Mel landed in NJ, DE, MD, VA,
WV, and, of course, NC. With all that, he still made it to the conference before us!

Jack and Vicki Owoc (FL) attended the conference for the first time in a long while. They gave a beautiful
presentation on Healing. They stay busy with their ministry to the poor and needy in South Florida through their
work with the St. Vincent de Paul society.

Norman and Delores Schauls (IA), and Tom and Karen Sink (IA) shared a moving and funny vivencia
at the conference on Healing. After the conference, the Schauls, the Sinks together with the Oates
journeyed to Myrtle Beach, SC for some R & R. Word is they had a great time there as well as traveling
together in the car back to and from Iowa.

                            2003 FALL CONFERENCE
                                  Who was the mystery couple?


From bottom left: Adrien & Mary Clare Auger, Jack Owoc, Lamberto & Sandra Rodriquez, Leo
Hernandez, Kevin Stogsdill, Herve Arsenault, Kathie Stogsdill, Lupe Hernandez, Maureen Nirschl,
Marianne Hartman, Mary Ward, Gladys & Ben Whitehouse, Vicki Owoc, Lilly & Dave James, Maureen
Oates George & Shirlene Gonzalez, Tony Hartman, Richard Nirschl, Delores & Norman Schauls, Karen
& Tom Sink, Mel Hemann, Mike Oates, Rachel Arsenault, and Joe Ward.
           Marriage Retorno Weekend Los Angeles, November 21 –23, 2003
                  Attended by couples from the MEFE Community in Los Angeles, CA
                           (Marriage Encounter in the Filipino Perspective)

       Back row: Don&Monchie, Ben&Jong, Jack&Aida, Annie&Ed, Jessie&John, Guing&Tony, Ging&Pons,
       Middle row: Kevin&Kathie, Fr. Pat, Zennie&Mandy, Pete &Pearl in front),
       Front row: Louie&Ann, Pete&Dora, Gus&Onie, Pearl (Pete behind)

                   Please send in your weekend dates to the Executive Team
Executive Team:

Joe & Mary Ward                     Fr. Mel Hemann                Most Rev. Wm. Franklin
234 Hemlock Drive                   127 Kaspend Place             Bishop Moderator
North Wales, PA 19454               Cedar Falls, IA 50613         St. Vincent Center
215-362-8699                        319-266-3889                  2706 N. Gaines St.
jward265@comcast.net                n298mh@aol.com                Davenport IA 52804

Check out the Marriage Retorno web site; www.marriageretorno.org

____ Yes, I/We wish to donate ___________________ to the Marriage Retorno Ministry.
                         ($15.00 membership fee requested)

____ I/We wish to continue receiving the Rams horn but are unable to contribute anything now.

____ No, please remove my/our names from your mailing list.

Name: ________________________________________________________________________________

Adress: _______________________________________________________________________________

City: ________________________________ State: ________________ Zip Code ___________________

Phone: _______________________________ Email: ___________________________________________

Send to: Joe and Mary Ward
         234 Hemlock Drive
         North Wales, PA 19454

Retorno Inc.                                                                 Non-Profit Organization
Marriage Retorno                                                               U. S. Postage Paid
179 Dudala Way                                                                    Loudon TN
Loudon, TN 37774                                                                 Permit No. 12

Return Service Requested

To top