- When I saw the statues in the grotto I felt happy.
- I learned new ways to show love to God.
- I learned that if you want to be a sister, you can!
These are a few of the comments from girls who attended the 2013 Faith & Friends Retreat which was sponsored by the Office of Catholic Scouting. The Catholic day retreat for girls took place last month at the Black Madonna Shrine in Eureka, Missouri. Held every other fall and open to Girl Scouts and all girls in grades 4-6, the retreat is a day of outdoor fun, faith-sharing, and making new friends.
The girls listened to a presentation given by St. Teresa and Sr. Laura, two Sisters of the Society Devoted to the Sacred Heart. They spoke about the foundress of their order, Sr. Ida, who was a scout in Hungary right before WWII. When she was only sixteen years old God called her to help take care of poor children, and she lived out that calling, helping young people in a camp for underprivileged youth and eventually founding an order. Sr. Ida is a model for what scouts and all girls can become when they learn about their faith and listen to the calling of God.
Sr. Teresa and Sr. Laura also assisted the girls in creating “I am a Christian” collages. The collages depicted how the girls show themselves and others that they are followers of Christ, by praying, going to Mass with their families, and helping people. Then the girls wrote letters to their parents describing the qualities in them that they admire and thanking their parents for sharing these gifts with them.
The girls also learned about the Sacraments from Deacon John Wainscott, and they participated in a pretend baptismal ceremony with a baby doll. In addition, they took a walking tour of the Shrine and, putting their faith into action, they made greeting cards for elderly residents of a nursing home.
Jennifer Trousdale, Coordinator of Events for the Office of Catholic Scouting summed up the day: “For many girls, the Faith & Friends Day is their first exposure to a Catholic retreat. The retreat is a simple way to teach the girls about their faith while having fun! They enjoy being at the Shrine because it is such a beautiful and unique setting.”
The Black Madonna Shrine is a hidden gem. As the Shrine’s website states: Nestled in the beautiful foothills of the Ozarks, the Black Madonna Shrine and Grottos offer a galaxy of dazzling mosaics and multi-colored rock sculptures. Dedicated to the Queen of Peace and Mercy, the Shrine is a shining example of what one man of faith can achieve. The grottos, which are constructed of Missouri tiff rock, are set in a countryside atmosphere that refreshes the body and soul. The Shrine, run by the Franciscan Missionary Brothers of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, is funded solely through donations. Visit the Black Madonna Shrine’s website to learn more about it and to schedule a tour.
For more information about the many Catholic Scouting retreats and faith-building programs sponsored by the Office of Catholic Scouting, visit the OCS website or call Jennifer at (314) 792-7613.