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Catholic News Herald

Serving Christ and Connecting Catholics in Western North Carolina

070617 duc in altumBELMONT — More than 80 young women attended the second-annual Duc In Altum vocation discernment retreat June 26-30, sponsored by the Diocese of Charlotte Vocations Office and hosted at Belmont Abbey College.

Attendance was significantly higher than last year’s inaugural retreat, which drew 51 young women. Duc In Altum, Latin for “Put Out Into the Deep,” is designed to encourage young women to listen to God’s will for their lives, and the retreat features a week of prayer, Eucharistic Adoration and Mass, recitation of the rosary, a Marian procession, group discussions, lectures, games, music and more.

On the first evening of the retreat, organizer Sister Mary Raphael welcomed the participants and posed the question, “As a daughter of God, how do you perceive your Heavenly Father?” She continued, “God has a plan for each of you and you must trust in His vocation for you.”

Each individual, she noted, is like the ocean, and exploring the depth of one’s life requires trusting in God and listening to Him.

“One does not know his or her own vocation without allowing God’s help to assist in such discovery,” Sister Mary Raphael said. “To understand your vocation, you must listen to God.”

The mission of this retreat, she continued, was to explore their individual roles as women in the Church, leaning upon the example of Mary the Immaculate as the exemplar of femininity.

This year’s retreat was especially significant for the participants and organizers, as it took place during the 100th anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima’s apparitions to the children of Fatima, Portugal, in 1917. The history and lessons of Fatima were featured subjects during the retreat.

Prayer, said speaker Sister Agnes in her talk on Fatima, “is the true and total actual acceptance and attention to God.”

“Change the world through the prayer of God,” she said.

“Sister Agnes’ talk about the apparitions of Mary to the children of Fatima stood out to me,” said participant Ceclia Murray of St. John the Baptist Parish in Tryon. “One hundred years ago, Mary showed those children what hell is and those children came to understand the consequences of what living recklessly entails. I think that Our Lady of Fatima teaches us to understand the gravity of our actions and what can come out of them.”

Abby Kramer, another participant of the retreat, added, “The events at Fatima remind us of all of our world’s present issues and how much we should pray for those issues to cease, and (for) our healing.”

Other participants said the retreat’s emphasis on prayer – private prayer as well as praying the Liturgy of the Hours together – meant the most to them.

“I came to Duc In Altum to be able to spend more time with God and to get away from things that often distract me from becoming closer to Him,” said retreat participant Catherine Mangano.

“I came to Duc In Altum to become closer to God and to discover what path He has chosen for me,” echoed participant Zoey Maxwell.

Both girls agreed that a lesson from the retreat that they want to implement in their daily lives is to separate themselves from the distractions of today’s technology, and give themselves more time for prayer and discernment of their life’s calling. When asked whether they would return for a future retreat, both girls exclaimed, “Yes!”

— Rachel McKimmon, Correspondent.  Photos by Doreen Sugierski and Megan Whiteside, Catholic News Herald.

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