RENEW and the
Archdiocese for the Military Services:
A Deepening Relationship

By Sr. Maureen Colleary, FSP
Pastoral Services Team, RENEW International

RENEW International’s relationship with the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS) is in its seventh year. We believe that Why Catholic? Journey through the Catechism, a RENEW process, benefits our men and women in uniform because many of life’s adversities are best addressed within a group setting, using faith and prayer to foster greater connectedness to and understanding of God at work in our lives.

At the core of Why Catholic? is the formation of small Christian communities for prayer, reflection, and sharing. These small groups provide an ideal, supportive environment for awakening and deepening faith in a way that is both effective and engaging. The resources then encourage small group members to put their deeper faith into action in their lives.

This past September and October, we completed Why Catholic? training at two installations in Germany, Vilseck and Grafenwoehr.

While in Germany, I had the opportunity to accept invitations from the CWOC communities at Wiesbaden, Vilseck and Grafenwoehr to do presentations on Mary. One of the suggestions from Pope Benedict XVI at the beginning of the Year of Faith was to encourage us to recognize the special role of Mary in our faith lives, in the New Evangelization and to follow her as a model of faith and virtue.

Fr. Joseph Vieira, Grafenwoehr Garrison Chaplain;
Jeff Fox, Rose Barracks Catholic Parish Coordinator;
Cynthia Vieira, Grafenwoehr Religious Education Coordinator and Sr. Maureen Colleary, FSP
at Rose Barracks Sunday Fellowship.
Participants at the CWOC Malvern Retreat,
October 4-7, 2013
with Sr. Maureen Colleary and Msgr. Philip Hill.

At RENEW we have a faith sharing resource called At Prayer with Mary and we created a presentation entitled Mary: Her Story as First Disciple and Evangelizer to introduce the resource and to highlight how Mary can be the instrument through which our relationship with Jesus is deepened.

Catholic women from Ft. Belvoir, Ft. Lee and Aberdeen Proving Ground, on a retreat at St. Joseph Retreat House in Malvern, PA, reflected on the importance of Mary in their lives. More than 75 women and several men – Bishop Richard Spencer and Fr. Ed Ohm joined us in Wiesbaden and Msgr. Philip Hill was on the Malvern retreat, to name a few – participated in the prayer and sharing. Some reflections from the participants include:

      “Sharing our faith together as mothers, wives, daughters and friends was very rewarding!” – Members of the Ft. Lee CWOC

      “This retreat far exceeded my expectations – I gained many new spiritual insights and I found the experience was exactly what I needed at this time.” – Florence Gantt, Ft. Belvoir CWOC

      “As military faith communities and sisters in faith we are unique and very blessed. Nourishing our relationship to God is a must in this time of deployments and family commitments. We were blessed to enjoy the spiritual leadership on this retreat of Msgr. Philip Hill, Fr. Vincent Fortunato, OFM Cap and Sr. Maureen Colleary, FSP. They helped to remind me of our need for faith sharing and support of our continued journey in the footsteps of our Master, Jesus.” – Bernadette Kovalsick, Aberdeen Proving Ground CWOC

Next Spring, the last of four Why Catholic? trainings will be presented at Ft. Belvoir, VA and MacDill AFB, FL for the EAST Vicariate. Chapel teams and small community leaders have access to ongoing pastoral consultation and a library of web-based resources to ensure a positive on-going experience. Through a partnership between Catholic Extension, RENEW International, and the AMS, bases can take full advantage of this proven process with no service fees.

This article by Sr. Maureen Colleary will appear in the winter issue of Salute, the magazine of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA

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