My internship at ACSSJ has come to a close, so this will be my last post. Thank you for joining us as we traveled to Le Puy--it was such a beautiful journey! My internship at ACSSJ has been a blessing beyond description--it has helped me enhance my skills and further realize my goals. I am so grateful I was given the opportunity to integrate my passions for writing and creativity into my work. Working for ACSSJ has been an honor and a pleasure and an experience I know will benefit me in my future endeavors. I have thoroughly enjoyed this adventure and have learned so much. Thank you to Executive Director, Martha Malinski for helping me with everything along the way. Not only have I learned about myself, but I have been inspired by the Charism of the Sisters of St. Joseph. I can’t wait to find ways to share my experiences and knowledge with my campus as I enter my senior year. Thank you, ACSSJ!
On our second day of pilgrimage, trip leader, Dan Leahy, gave us the theme of “Spirituality of Place.” That night, we were asked four things: (1) How do you understand spirituality?, (2) What places are meaningful to you as places of spiritual encounter?, (3) Has there been a place of spiritual encounter in Le Puy?, and (4) What does spiritual encounter feel like? These are questions that most of us don’t usually ask ourselves, yet it is so important. The way we view spirituality molds the way we see and understand spiritual encounters and experiences. These questions challenged us to not only reflect on what spirituality means to each of us personally, but to listen to how others experience the divine. As I listened in my small group, I was reminded of something--spiritual encounters and feeling divine presence is not reserved for big churches and extravagant places. The most profound spiritual encounters are usually simple, but it requires us to open our eyes and be mindful. While in Le Puy, we visited the original kitchen. It was not fancy by any means--it didn’t have fancy floors or fancy appliances, rather it had cold stone floors and walls with the most basic of necessities, yet in this small room, some of the most profound spiritual encounters took place. This is where the first sisters would gather and discuss their plans, discuss how they would serve and how they would answer God’s call. A spiritual encounter does not have to be emotionally charged and dramatic--it can be simple. The first Sisters saw God in the needs of others, thus every person and situation was a spiritual encounter--an ordained moment from God to fulfill their purpose. What would happen if we treated every moment as such? While I was in Le Puy, I felt the presence of God all around me, not only in the beautiful churches and cathedrals but in the people and the streets. One does not have to go far to connect with the divine.
On our first day of pilgrimage, trip leader Lori Helfrich gave us the theme “Rock and Fire.” At reflection later that night, each of us were called to ask ourselves what the “rock” and “fire” was in our own lives--the rock being our foundation, what gives us strength, and the fire being our passion. Too often we get so caught up in the day-to-day struggle that we fail to acknowledge the different influences in our life and enjoy the journey they are taking us on. This exercise challenged the group to reflect on our influences and appreciate their impact on our life. As we all shared our different stories in small group, I was reminded of a quote from St. Catherine of Siena who said, “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire!” On that first day of pilgrimage we climbed the Saint Michel Chapel, an ancient chapel that overlooks the city which the first sisters would have gone and prayed. It was a beautiful reminder of their humble beginnings and their commitment to faith. Whether you are called to respond to needs in a little city like Le Puy or in the big city of New York, your passions have a purpose. Just as the first Sisters of St. Joseph had their own rock and fire, so do we. Just as the first Sisters set the world on fire by being who God wanted them to be, so can we. Our first night of reflection reminded me to always follow my passions and always be grateful for the people who were put in my path to help me pursue them. Ask yourself today: What is my rock? What is my fire? How are the two interconnected?
Hello everyone! I’m so happy you’re here. My name is Tatiana Belanich and I’m the writer for the Le Puy Pilgrimage blog. I’m a junior at St. Joseph’s College Long Island campus and a double major in Journalism and Religious Studies. I am also an intern with ACSSJ and will be participating in the pilgrimage this June. I hope my articles will be fun and informative, but most importantly a reminder of the mission of this trip. St. Augustine once said, "The world is a great book, of which they that never stir from home read only a page." There is so much beauty to be explored and so much goodness to be experienced if only we would step out of our comfort zone. I hope you will follow us on our journey as we take these steps to respond to the stirrings of our hearts and attempt to read the many chapters the world has to offer.