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Over 70 women gathered at St. Stanislaus Oratory in Milwaukee on Saturday morning, November 23, to attend the Institute’s first regional women’s retreat. Attendees came from across the Midwest, both from the Institute’s apostolates as well as from many nearby parishes.

The retreat began at 8:30 with the Holy Rosary followed by the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. After Mass, the women made their way to the church’s parish hall for a lovely and generous continental breakfast where the ladies enjoyed each other’s company and met new friends.

Canon Benoit Jayr then began the retreat with a discussion about how the accessible and understanding Heart of Our Blessed Lady is a model for a woman’s heart. He described that, through her Fiat given as a hopeful new bride, she understands that plans can change, distract and upend us! We need to remain attentive, peaceful and even vulnerable in order to be open to the silent grace at work in our hearts. Especially during the coming time of Advent, we must listen more profoundly for the inspirations of grace that urge us to practice these virtues. Like Mary, we know darkness, but we do not panic or despair. Instead, we contemplate the Light, and we do our best where we are with what we have. We spend Advent preparing more room in our hearts; “Christ does not choose a five-star hotel, but your soul.”

After a short break, Canon Matthew Weaver continued the retreat with a talk about how the Mother of God is the model of motherhood today. He discussed the reality that all that our Lord Jesus Christ did for us was made possible by the sacrificial “yes” of a woman. Mary’s honors stem from her “yes” to be a mother. Moreover, everything we receive from Christ (true God and true man) comes to us through Mary, because she gave Him His humanity, “As light through glass” (Pope St. Leo the Great).

As we embrace our personal crosses, we know that she too has a pierced heart and can help us. Like Mary, we can embrace our noble, authentically feminine vocation and womanly duties, and we suffer with Mary what our nobility obliges. She wishes to sanctify our maternal hearts in order to bring Christ again to the world through us.

Though our failures, we realize that we are not perfect. “‘Be generous’ with your failures, offering them to Mary, and she will help you become more like her, humble and courageous. Consecrate your life to her Immaculate Heart daily, and she will give bring you safely to the Sacred Heart of her Divine Son, Jesus Christ our King.”

As the world tries to defeminize womanhood, we can teach, instill, and display true femininity and the nobility of our vocation by being ladies in our encounters each day. Through our perseverance in this, we cultivate the ground for God, so that in His time, He may rebuild the Church and society though our “yes” as His noble handmaids.

As the bells pealed in the distance, the retreat concluded with the Angelus, Canon gave the ladies his final blessing.


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