The Beauty of Ireland — The Richness of a Retreat

Back Row: Maire Cannon (Monaghan, Ireland); Kathy Meyer, (Winterset, Iowa); Maureen Freyne (Dungavan, Co., Waterford, Ireland ); Meabh Ni Uallachain (Dublin, Ireland ); Eileen Meers (Worthington, Ohio); Margaret McConalogue (Derry, Northern Ireland) Second Row: Anne Carey (Co. Leitrim, Ireland); Kathleen Gormlely (Ballinamore, Co. Leitrim, Ireland); Mirian McManus (Dublin, Ireland); Pauline Maher (Sligo, Ireland) Third Row: Kathleen Rooney (Director, Star of the Sea Retreat Centre); Frances Kennedy (Waterford, Kilkenny, Ireland); Assumpta Walsh (London, England); Karla Hansen (Clive, IA) Front Row: Mary Kay; Phil Stankard (Galway, Ireland); Meave Brady (Garanard Co., Longford, Ireland) Retreat leader Sr. Joyce Rupp was also our photographer.



For four beautiful days this spring, women from Ireland, England and the United States shared, reflected, wrote and celebrated at Star of the Sea Retreat Center in Mullaghmore, County Sligo. Presentations by Joyce Rupp, a member of the Servite Community, led the women toward Deepening Faith in the Holy One's Presence And the Goodness of One's Self, followed by rich discussion, reflective writing and quiet time. For all, the focus was on personal journey, inner voice, listening to and learning from one another’s stories and creativity. From its inception, we understood our time together would meld into treasured memories of an unforgettable journey.


Why We Write

Sometimes we are compelled to write. About someone or some thing or some place. And in that act of writing, we come to understand the why of the compulsion to write. Here, Diane Douiyssi (Bloomington, IL) shares her why.

By Diane Douiyssi (Bloomington, IL)

I’ve found many reasons to write in my life. I’ve written while traveling alone, staying at hostels across Italy and marveling at the vibrant kindness of strangers. I’ve lived in Morocco and Argentina, and I’ve written through culture shock and through not speaking the language, desperate I’d never understand. I’ve also written through the loneliness of moving to new places, following family for new opportunities, and leaving friends and comfortable spaces behind.

Diane Douiyssi

I’ve written through the exhaustion and worry of becoming a new mother, when I placed so much weight on my shoulders I wonder how I stood up every day. I’ve also written to try to catch my girls’ fleeting childhoods, hoping to hold as many whispery memories as I could before they slipped away — the scent of their soft hair, their little mittens reaching for snowflakes.

There were many times I wrote through gritted teeth. I’d decided I wanted to be a Writer, and I had to create something. There were also many times when I didn’t write. Although after a while, I’d always somehow find myself writing about not writing.

Lately though, I’ve sensed a shift. I delight in putting a scene together, watching the images appear at the very moment I need them. Time disappears as I race to catch the words of a sentence. I like playing with words, too, rummaging around to find the perfect one. It could be “sapphire” or “cerulean.” Or maybe it’s simply blue. I love to tinker with the order, too, making the phrase sound just right, and I get a delicious thrill when a sentence clicks into place. Sometimes when I write, I am filled with awe, momentarily taken aback at the beauty of an image. Other times, I feel a sense of wonder. Like a child, clapping her hands. Look at how pretty that sentence is!

My sister and I used to spend long afternoons in our room, spinning stories onto loose-leaf paper and hurrying to read them aloud. Now, it seems I’ve found my way back there again, creating characters and dialogue, playing with sentences and words. I’m enchanted by writing, and when I pull out my notebook and begin to write, I move into joy. I write because it makes my soul sing.


The Why of a Writers’ Group

When I can no longer stare at the blinking cursor, I think of our writing group— encouraging, motivating, teaching me and sharing their own accounts of staring at the blinking cursor—and how they got beyond that nagging, cursed cursor. More importantly, my writing group makes sure I don't lose the discipline of writing. Our meetings serve as my deadline for finishing an essay, a paragraph or, hopefully, a chapter. Someone once said, “Good stories are not written; they are rewritten,” and that's what we do.

Jody Vorbrich from Clive, Iowa, a seven-year member; her newest book, Murder in Central Standard Time, is the final book in mystery trilogy