Our Writers Introduce Themselves


























I chose to read this book and participate in the discussion because I was drawn to it and since I completed the 19th annotation last year I have missed the weekly discussions on our assignments and readings. I first was introduced to the exercises when I was a nursing student at Boston College. I absolutely loved my Jesuit education and it has served me well. My director at that time was totally committed to the formation of young working lay professionals bringing Christ into the everyday world and participating in the transformation of the work place. He was remarkable holy priest. From bedside critical care nursing, I returned to school and became a Sociologist. During my teaching years, I felt extremely privileged to be part of the lives of some of the most courageous women who returned to school after a number of crises in their lives. Eventually I heard a voice that sent me to the Medical Mission Sisters with whom I lived for a little more than a year. Subsequently I heard a different calling and I married had 3 children and continued with teaching nursing. My husband died 3 years ago. Currently, I am in a state hospital that provides care to those with chronic medical and psychiatric conditions. Most can not receive care in any other setting. I serve as head of a department researching care practices and reducing negative outcomes.

Carol - Burlington Massachusetts, US

I am Peter K. I am a German immigrant, a Lutheran pastor, a brother of the Society of the Holy Trinity. I serve in the western half of Ohio, where I am the shepherd to a small flock of Christians.

I volunteered for this retreat as soon as I found the invitation. I participate as a small way of saying "Thank You" to Collaborative Ministry Online which has been a positive force in spiritual life for about 8 years now.

Peter STS, New Carlisle, Ohio, US

Hello to all of you who have responded and are willing to be part of this wonderful on-line Lenten retreat. It was my privilege of knowing Fr. Gary Smith sj in the 1970's when he was assigned to Holy Family Church in San Jose, Ca. and now it is my pleasure to read through his insights and see through his eyes what many of us have not been exposed to in our

May our hearts and minds be open to those who have so little.
May we all be Spirit-filled during this Lenten journey.

Sal and Dinah
San Jose, Ca.

I am a Sister of Mercy, age 67, teaching philosophy at Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia. In a sense I have been in the Jesuit network since graduate school at Fordham, quite a while ago. In that time I have experienced the riches of the Spiritual Exercises in several forms, including the 19th Annotation.

I was initially drawn to this lenten retreat for a couple of reasons:
First, Gary Smith's book, "Radical Compassion," was the "St. Joseph's Reads" selection a couple of years ago, and I read it with a freshman service-learning class. I, and they, found it both touching and very challenging. I remember one of the students asking in class, "What would Fr. Smith say if he came into our classroom?" She meant that he'd have to think we were doing comparatively little for the poor of Philadelphia! My second reason for saying yes to this invitation is that it provides a structure and a responsibility that will keep me on track through Lent. It is hard to backslide when you are accountable to forty-nine other people.

Betsy, RSM, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US

Blessed with the opportunity to complete the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises in 2006, I continue to struggle in two areas. First, how do I use time, talent, and treasure to love and serve our Lord? and second, what do I need to do to be able to recognize God's presence in those individuals I encounter, especially, in those relationships which challenge me the most. Lent is my favorite time of year to reflect on where I am in my relationship with Jesus and how I can increase his presence in my heart. When I saw the opportunity to participate in this retreat, I felt an immediate rush to respond. I pray for all of my co-retreatants, that our hearts may be open to whatever God is calling us to through this unique opportunity. AMDG.

Tom D., Cleveland, Ohio, US

I was really glad to see this book sharing for Lent at the Creighton site. I had been reading about 'preparing for Lent'; though I want to do this every year, it often slides right by, and I find myself working out my Lenten plan once it's begun; and feel 'behind' at least for a few weeks. I knew immediately I would want to participate in this book forum. In addition, I have wanted to really grow in understanding some things occurring with people in other parts of the world. The foreign names for people and places seem to muddle my mind, and I give up too quickly. Fr. Gary Smith has found a way to assist in the clearly written introduction, and the included maps. The commitment to take my time and read this prayerfully over the time of Lent, rather than read too quickly and shallowly will enable me to develop deeper understanding of things that seem a bit scary to consider.

Susan F. in Kentucky, US

I'm an American who has been living in France for over twenty years. I teach at one of the universities in the Paris area. My son, who's in college in the US just did a class on peacekeeping in Africa and I wanted to find out more about the situation there. I also wanted to do something special for Lent, something that would jar me a bit out of the rut I'm in. When I saw the announcement on Creighton's website, everything seemed to come together and I knew that God was calling me to do this. So I immediately respnded. The only problem is that, being in Paris, I haven't yet received the book. I hope it comes soon.

I read the author's note and introduction on Loyola Press's website and found it very moving. One of the things I notice in reading it is how often I complain, every day: problems at work, problems at home. The electricity was cut a couple of weeks ago for a few hours. Since we're in winter, it got cold and dark. I complained a lot about that. So how can people in much, much worse situations than me sing when all I seem to do is complain? Definite food for thought this Lent.

Lori in Paris

I am a Sister of Mercy for 64 years. I am also a Creighton graduate in 1982. I took my first social justice class in 1979. I was excited about this book and the opportunity it provided. I have been here in my third career as a certified chaplain in our cancer center here in Fort Lauderdale Florida. I am preparing to retire from active ministry and continue to do Healing Touch as a volunteer.

Sr. Margaret, Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, US

I volunteered to be part of this group because I felt that committing to it would prevent me from dropping out a few weeks into Lent as I might do if I just did it on my own.

I am a 73 year old native New Yorker transplanted, with my husband, to a rural area in North Carolina. Here we are close to two of our three children and our four grandchildren. This gives us the wonderful (sometimes exhausting) opportunity to see these children grow and develop. I became acquainted with St. Ignatius in 1997 when I made 12 week "At Home With God" retreat in my parish. This led to the development of a solid daily prayer practice and a few years later I participated in the Nineteenth Annotation. My prayer life began to suffer after our move 4 years ago and this retreat is offering me the opportunity to regroup and get back on track. Thank you so very much!

Mo from North Carolina, US

I have been part of the on-line Creighton community for the last 3 or 4 years and was delighted when I saw the invitation to be part of this Lenten reading group. The topic of Fr Gary's book immediately attracted me and I expect to be challenged and to undergo life-enhancing change in my attitudes about my own life experiences, as I learn from these refugees. This is the grace for which I pray.

Jean, Lancaster, NW, England

My name is Drew. I am 47 years old, a husband of 19 years and a father of two. I have been using the Creighton and Sacred Space websites for daily reflection for some time. It will be both an honor and challenge to share these reflections during this very unique Lenten journey.

With Lent only a few days away, the usual thoughts of preparation come to mind. Improve prayer, deepen reflection, and gain better understanding of myself in relation to God and to others. Using someone's real life experience as a guide for these days will be a great assistance. As I begin the book, I am prompted with a burning question - why did God place me here and you there? This thought has always been on my mind. It seems a quite random process without the grand design of a loving Creator - for some are placed within a situation of freedom and privilege while others (like those in the book) are faced with poverty and injustice. However, trusting in the providence of God, I know that we are all called no matter our geographic or economic placement. Discerning and answering the call is our life's work. Meeting someone like Gary Smith does inspire, for there are many who hear the call to service in a heroic way. I am moved by his purpose and depth of relationship with God. He appears to have direct and indepth awareness of what is desired for him and he responds in a generous and open manner. I often desire that God yank me by the shirt to direct me in His purpose, but at times feel very out of touch with His more subtle ways of guidance. So as Lent begins, I pray for a listening heart and an in-tune mind to more fully become aware of God's method of acting in my life and His call to for me to act on behalf of others.

God bless all of those who will participate and share in this adventure.

Drew, Wayne, Pennsylvania, US

It was difficult for me to open They Came Back Singing. I felt that
these children were saying something to me and I knew that with
their stories and God’s help, this would be the
Lent I have always wanted.
For me, Lent has always started with a lot of good intentions and
fizzled by the third week. Things would pick up during Holy Week
but it seemed that I had missed something. Not so this year.

Mary, Joliet, Illinois, US.

I live in Allentown, PA with my husband of 41 years. We have 3 grown daughters and 7 wonderful grandchildren. I’ve been using the Creighton daily reflection site for several years. As soon as I saw the invitation to be part of this retreat I signed up immediately. It was only afterward that I realized what an awesome privilege it is to share with this global community of faith. I know it will be a fruitful Lent.

Rita - Allentown, PA, US

I am a 43-year single president of a Catholic, Benedictine K-12 school in the Cincinnati area. I am Jesuit- and Franciscan-educated, and have been blessed to be able to come back and work for both communities during the course of my career. I look forward to our reading and sharing, and the opportunity to step outside the circle of my own experience during this Lent.

Ed F. - Cincinnati, Ohio
, US

I look forward to receiving our discussion book. I am a 60 year old Economics teacher at St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia, PA ,USA. I am the mother of four grown children (3 boys, 1 girl)... I need a program this Lent that would allow me to reach a little deeper into the universal church and my call to serve. I need to discern where I am called in the global church and this opportunity may provide me with some reflection on this challenge. Teaching economics from the justice/peace aspect is quite a challenge.
-- Ann Z, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US

I was viciously attacked by two American Bulldogs/Rottweilers on 9/29/05,which cost me the removal of my left buttock. Through the last couple of years during recovery I lost myself to a dark hole of severe depression; however,I never gave up on Jesus or God. I was just grateful to be alive and that it was not my face. However, it did put a complete hold on my life and personality of being a survivor.

I attended a St Ignatius Retreat at my children's school. I was amazed of the graces I recieved and how the faculty and staff helped with my recovery. I finally recieved a peace within myself that help me to deal with the drastic changes that occurred because of this horrific event. So after the nine week retreat was over I was saddened because that was the first time since my attack that I was among people. We were given additional info to continue our prayer time on our own and your site was included.THANK GOD! So ever since November I have continued my retreat online.

I just wanted to let everyone know that God and Jesus really work. It takes time and patience.Thank You!

Rebecca D.- Cleveland, Ohio, US

I am the Mother of three married kids and Grandmother of Alicia Grace. I work as a X-ray and MRI Tech for a Catholic Health System in Orthopaedics. I am also a parttime missionay and an advocacy worker for Immigration Reform and Universal Healthcare. I love to sing and sing in several choirs.

I was immediately struck by Gary's description of his late night arrival
at the airpot in Nairobi. I too have arrived in that same airport expecting bright lights and noisy confusion, but finding almost an eerie silence. You know that have you to come to a place not only foreign to all of your senses, but beyond your comprehension.

As we left the airport behind us, I listened distractedly to the comments of our driver and his companion, but found myself focused on the people along the side of the road. There are so few lights that you get only a split second glance at faces as they are caught by the headlights. Several men pulling a cow, kids pushing at each other as they laugh at a private joke, a mother walking with a child on her back and several more in tow, these are the
images of that Nairobi highway.

And then just as quickly, the lights disappear all together and there is blackness on the right side of the road. Small flickers of fire dot the valley, but nothing more. This is the Kabira slums, home to so many who have come seeking work in the city. Who have been driven off of their farms by drought or poor crops. Home to those seeking enough money to return to their farms with dignity, but finding another poverty all together. They are the people we have come to serve.
Nancy - Kimberly, Wisconsin, US

When I saw the invitation to participate in the Lent Retreat Group, a "yes" was on my lips within seconds! Being highly engaged in ministry and loving it, the LGR has the potential to keep me focused, to stretch my heart and to hear the call from Jesus once again to live in solidarity with my suffering brothers and sisters. Best part is that everything is already organized. All I need to do is let God's grace work in and through me as I pray with our world-wide community. My hope is that many will join this journey in the forty day journey that awaits us!
Jacquelyn SND - Ohio, US

The day before I saw the invitation to join this retreat group I had remarked to a friend, “I need a good Lent!” and wasn’t sure which path to follow to come to that experience. Thank you CU Online Ministries for this opportunity to guide us through this Lenten journey. I live in a suburb south of Chicago, Illinois, and am involved in music ministry at my parish. It is through music that I seem to find our Lord most present in my life, or should I say He continues to find me. I pray for us all as we ask for God’s blessings on this journey together.

Susan - South Holland, Illinois, US

I'm a recently retired elementary school teacher (inner city,Jacksonville, Florida) who volunteered for this Lenten Reading Group because of a friend's suggestion - she didn't make it! God does work in mysterious ways!
PGR - Green Cove Springs, Florida, US

I am a pastor of a large, suburban parish in the northern suburbs of Buffalo, ordained 22 years a priest. But, my Lent this year will be spent in Southwest Asia as I perform my Air National Guard chaplain duties. I find Lent increasingly difficult to enter into with the additional pastoral demands of extra confessions, special prayer services as well as different gathering rites and activites at Sunday Eucharist. This will be the second Lent I will have spent in Asia and I hope that the desert climate, the change of scenery, and reflection upon the journey of Fr. Gary Smith shakes me from slumber and moves my heart deeper into the life of God. It will be good to journey with such a diverse world-wide group. Thanks for the opportunity.

Fr. John - Kenmore, New York, US

I volunteered to be part of this Lenten reading group as a way to say a small thank you for the gift that you and your ministry are in my life.
In gratitude and prayer, Celia

Honestly,after I freely joined Online reading group I experienced struggle within my heart. Do I really need all of these people from Sudan or Uganda disturb 'my' Lent? No. I don't care for destiny of some distant african people whom I can't give real help. And I'm fed up with news about wars, killings and starvings..... I'm on the begging of 'adventure' to allow refugees to be more than just statistical number from one book. It's not easy to face reality of their lives and to find place for them in my own heart . Reading this book impressed because I found how Jesus CARES for this world - calling and sending men like fr.Garry Smith, sj, in the midst of terror, injustice, poverty. Jesus, thank you for people who care when we don't.
I.K. - Serbia

I am a junior high school geography and computer technology teacher at an Omaha-area Catholic school. My wife of twenty-six years, Susan, is a pediatric nurse and we are the proud parents of three sons and a daughter.
Steve - Omaha, Nebraska, US

I am Rev. Fr. Gogo A. of the Archdiocese of Palo, Leyte, Philippines. I am assigned at the Sacred Heart Seminary in Palo. I am a Spiritual Director of the 1st and 2nd year high school seminarians and at the same time I teach math in our college department. I was ordained last September 20, 2005. I came across your website and I thought of trying to help out.
Fr. Gogo - Philippines

I was born in Colorado, but raised in Omaha. I feel a great connection to Creighton, and the entire community there... I've lived in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1974.... I'm very excited, and honored, to be a part of your group as it provides a connection "home".
The law firm I work won a couple of major asylum victories on behalf of former Child Soldiers in the last year. In both cases the "boys" were seeking asylum in the US. I call them boys, but their childhoods have been stolen from them and I'm sure they've seen more, and been subjected to more, pain and suffering in their brief lives than I will in the remainder of whatever time I have left on earth.
Larry - California, US

I am a Sister of St John of God...a small Irish congregation of Sisters...I am living and now ministering in the Diocese of Tzaneen, Limpopo Province, South Africa...we are 3 sisters who are working here. Our ministry is to those who are living and dying of HIV/AIDS...we are working in different parishes...we are involved in three different programmes...Education for life, Home Base Care and Orphans and vulnerable children... Our response is small...but we do not work in isolation ...we work closely with other religious and priests and volunteers...we are also with the local people on the ground. In 2007 I celebrated my silver jubilee of Profession...

I look forward to this new adventure..I will remain open to what the Lord and to what he call hold for us all this coming Lent.

Anita - Tzaneen, Limpopo Province, South Africa

I live in Cleveland, Ohio, went to St. Ignatius HS and Xavier U, in Cincinnati , OH. I look forward to being a part of this group, thanks for organizing it.

Joe M. - Cleveland, Ohio, US


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