|Dr. Coleen Kelly Mast gives a talk at one of the spiritual spas.|
May 4, 2011. Frankfort, IL. When life in the fast
lane (or the mommy lane) runs a woman ragged, the
words “spiritual spa” are music to the ears. Who could
say no to a Saturday in which prayer and meditation
come with added benefits of relaxation and fun with likeminded
The spiritual spas—day-long retreats for women—were the brainchild of Dr.
Coleen Kelly Mast, an author, EWTN radio show host, and
Regnum Christi member who started Women at the Well, a
ministry group at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Frankfort, Illinois.
Since it began in 2007, Women at the Well has
hosted four spiritual spas, bringing in nationally and internationally renowned
speakers from a variety of backgrounds. But perhaps more importantly,
the “spas” have been giving women the chance to step
out of their busy lives and take time for meditation,
adoration, confession, Mass, and fellowship with other women.
recent spiritual spa took place this past April 2 at
St. Anthony’s Catholic Church. Entitled “Singing in the Reign,” the
day-long retreat featured two main speakers: Dr. Coleen Kelly Mast,
who spoke on “Four Keys to God’s Lifesong,” and Sister
Helena Burns, a religious sister from the Daughters of St.
Paul and a movie reviewer (dubbed “the Media Nun”) who
spoke on “God and the Feminine Genius.” As part of
her talk, Dr. Mast sang her favorite parody entitled, “These
Are a Few of My Favorite Sins.” The women commented
afterwards that the lighthearted song actually helped them examine their
consciences in a real way.
Who has a diaper in
Since spiritual spas are all about pampering and bonding,
the 120 women who attended the retreat were also able
to enjoy extra perks that made the experience more interesting
and interactive than just sitting in a pew and listening
The spa began at 8:00 a.m. with breakfast,
and the presentations were broken up into four sessions. In
between talks, there were table discussion questions for small groups
and fun contest questions such as “Who can name the
five luminous mysteries?” or “Who has a diaper in her
purse?” for prize giveaways ranging from makeup, lotions, and kitchen
items to Catholic books, bibles, and rosaries. Chair massage machines
were made available; one of the prizes was a five-minute
coupon to sit in the massage chair (in some of
the past spiritual spas, an actual massage therapist came in
during lunchtime to treat the women). Lunchtime in particular was
a time of fun and relaxation, with games and conversation.
|Along with all the fun and interaction, the deep purpose of the retreat was to prepare women for Lent.|
the end of the retreat, the participants gathered for a
table activity that has proven to be a “huge success”:
in small groups, the women created a poster, song, or
an advertising project as a way of processing and sharing
the information from the day’s retreat.
At “Singing in the
Reign,” three priests were made available for confessions for two
hours, and there was Eucharistic adoration that began with a
directed meditation read to music. Women who were new to
meditation and adoration commented on how much they enjoyed that
quiet time with God. Some even signed up for a
regular adoration hour after experiencing adoration at the spiritual spa.
Back by popular demand
Along with all the fun and interaction,
the deep purpose of the retreat was to prepare women
for Lent, giving them a time to step away from
the ordinary routines of life, reflect, pray, and share. In
many cases, the spa gave women a fresh take on
Catholicism, and a sense that the faith really did have
something to say to their lives.
After the first spiritual spa
at St. Anthony three years ago, which featured three talks
by Fr. Matthew Kaderabek, LC, the women raved about the
retreat, with comments like “Nothing this great has been done
here for women in the history of the parish” and
“It was a parish phenomenon.”
After that first spiritual spa,
the women of the parish asked for it to become
an annual event… and a new parish tradition was born.
at the Well
Started in 2007 with Dr. Coleen Kelly Mast
and a core team of 18 women from St. Anthony’s
parish, Women at the Well has hosted 14 events with
an average of 170 women attending each event. The ministry
has served 2,050 meals, given 11 inspiring ‘ladies nights out’
and now 4 spiritual spas.
As the popularity of its
various events has grown, the core team, which consists of
the workers and planners behind the events, has expanded to
42 women divided into various committees: decoration, food, set up,
clean up, promotions, speaker search, prayer and music, volunteer server
coordinator, registration, head team, and the well table committee, which
oversees a table full of free books, brochures, and resources.
At each core team meeting, the women have a time
of prayer and spiritual formation on the upcoming event topic.
Many new friendships have developed among core team members, most
of whom did not even know each other’s names when
the organization began.
The name of the ministry, Women at
the Well, is based on the Gospel passage of the
Samaritan woman at the well whose personal experience of Jesus’
mercy transformed her life and turned her into an apostle,
a servant of the faith. For Dr. Mast, the group
is a concrete way to serve the parish, not only
by building up regular parishioners in the faith, but also
by reaching out to women who do not attend Sunday
Mass or who have not had the opportunity to experience
their faith in a personal way.
“Each Women at the
Well event has been a beautiful experience of seeing the
Holy Spirit at work in the lives of the guests
as well as in the core team,” she said. “Watching
this vibrant parish ministry grow ‘from scratch’ has been quite
a fulfilling experience.”
For more information about Women at the
Well, contact Dr. Mast through her web site, www.respectincorporated.com.