St. Benedict students attend women’s retreat

Five Grambling State University students attended the Women of Faith Retreat at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in Ruston. The students are members of St. Benedict Catholic Church’s Catholic Student Organization.

Shelly Bole and Dianna Rachal were the retreat facilitators, and Sister Marilyn Vassallo served as presenter.

Vassallo said the goal of the retreat was to bring women of the diocese together. 

 “It is women who keep the fires of faith going, so it is a wonderful thing when we recognize the specialness and importance of women,” said Vassallo.

Four women of the Bible were the focus of the retreat: Naomi, Ruth, Elizabeth and Mary. Vassallo said Ruth was the first book in the Bible concentrating on women. It tells of Ruth and Naomi’s moments of loss, risks, transformations and survival.

“Even though they were from different generations, there was phenomenal trust between Ruth and Naomi. One problem in the church is we separate according to age,” said Vassallo.

One of the lessons to be learned from Ruth’s story is nothing is forever. “God is constantly watching over us. By faith, we are entering into the same journey as these two women,” she said.

Vassallo used Mary and Elizabeth to disucss faith and the importance of reflection.  

“Mary goes from individual experience and sees herself as part of the huge salvation history. She knew God would not leave her alone. She trusted her own inner voice. We have to listen to our own voices,” said Vassallo.  

Elizabeth is important because she was the instrument of God used to assist her cousin Mary, whom people regard as the greatest woman in salvation history. Also, Elizabeth went against tradition when she named her son John (the Baptist) and not after his father Zechariah.

Vassallo said women lose themselves because they affiliate their lives with others. “We must never forget that we, like men, are a part of God.

Vassallo serves as advisor to the bishop and as director of the Office of Canonical and Mediation Services for the Diocese of Shreveport.  She is a member of the Albany Province of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet.

Students Fernanda Azouz, Charlene Corbette, Canicia Jules, Ketra Luke and Kaicia Roberts attended the retreat.

“The retreat was very refreshing. It increased my knowledge about faith,” Azouz said.        

Women from the following Catholic churches were present: St. Benedict, Grambling; Jesus Good the Shepherd, Monroe; St. Joseph, Bastrop; St. Paul, Minden; St. Matthew, Monroe; St. Pius, Shreveport; St. Paschal, West Monroe; and Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Farmerville.