Two Whitewater nuns help people connect to retreat through Internet

With the waters of Kannah Creek running through the woods at the Whitewater Community beside them, Sisters Mary Glenn, left, and Anne Brost reflect on the upcoming Benedictine Spiritual Formation Program that they will be holding via the internet.

In one moment, Monte High’s life changed forever.

His single-vehicle accident back in 1983 not only cost him the use of his legs, but it also changed him spiritually.

“I was angry for a while and not on the (right) path, I guess you could say,” said High of his life prior to his accident. “I was a little wild.”

The accident gave his life a focus and helped him find God, he said.

“My life has changed a lot since then. I went back to school (in 2000) and got a social work degree, and that’s where I met my wife (Elizabeth).

“Having an accident like that makes you focus your priorities.”

The couple began attending the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Grand Valley, an interdenominational church. They discovered spiritual retreats at the Whitewater Benedictine Community Monastery, where they heard about the Benedictine Spiritual Formation Program.

The program started 28 years ago at Benet Hill Monastery in Colorado Springs and, until recently, was only available at the monastery.

The Highs are among more than a dozen Grand Valley residents registered for the Benedictine program classes offered for the first time in Grand Junction via the Internet.

The Internet feed of the class at Benet Hill Monastery was made possible by the Bacon Family Foundation of Grand Junction, which made a sizable, charitable donation to provide the technology and equipment.

“It’s helping build a better relationship with all Christian churches and people interested in spirituality,” Herb Bacon said. “It is interesting they can do something online and provide training.”

The program is being coordinated by Oblates of Saint Benedictine Sisters (OSB) Mary Glenn and Anne Madeleine Brost of the Whitewater Monastery.

The eight-month course begins Wednesday at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church, and classes will be every Wednesday night except during the weeks of major holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter). Each class is allotted three hours and will include prayer, small-group sessions and activities.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for people to deepen one’s understanding of selves, God and other people,” Benet Hill OSB Sister Rose Ann Barmann said.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to provide that. We’re grateful to the Bacon Family Foundation.”

The program includes five workshops scheduled at the Whitewater Monastery, one each month beginning Sept. 19.

The cost to participate is $1,300 per person, an average of less than $13 per hour, which helps pay for instructors and class materials.

Registered participants are expected to write reflection papers every week on topics such as emotional awareness, keeping journals and dreams. One of the first topics is emotional awareness, understanding how the human being feels. The instructor is a psychiatrist, who has taken the course.

Participants are expected to have a definite prayer practice in their lives and will be required to complete assignments for evaluation by the instructors.

“No one is going to tell them if they are right or wrong,” Brost said. “It’s a way of sharing spiritual ideas and thoughts with other people without being condemned for thinking a certain way.

“To me it’s really exciting there are so many people interested in spirituality and wanting to do something together.”

Glenn said many people hunger for some kind of deepening of their spirituality.

“They want a place to talk about God in a safe and spiritual way,” she said. “Our culture does not encourage us to talk about God on a personal level. Some people do, but there are a lot of us that don’t, and this is a place where it can be encouraged. I think this is one of the reasons people are interested in it. If they are challenged, it is in a constructive way.”

Anyone interested in getting in the program may call the sisters at 241-3847.


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