There was a chill in the air last Saturday night as a crowd of approximately 180 friends of John XXIII Retreat Center gathered for “Catch the Spirit” at Taylor University in Upland, IN. But, inside Hodson Dining Commons where the event was being held, it was warm with conversation and anticipation of the evening’s talks by Fr. Keith Hosey and Dr. Jay Kessler
The night began with time to visit and look over the silent auction chaired by Rick Wilson. The 100 or more varied offerings ranged from 2 crosses, one designed by David Dale and another by Fr. Dave Hellman, Pastor of Sacred Heart in Remington, 2 paintings of Jesus by Fr. Al Naseman C.PP.S., to a handmade Shoo Fly quilt by Catherine Diekemper, afghans, tickets to adventures in Ft. Wayne, Indy, Kokomo and Cincinnati, Vera Bradley purses and much original art.
Sr. Joetta Huelsmann, PHJC, Director of John XXIII, welcomed everyone to “Catch the Spirit”, which incidentally she named in an initial brainstorming meeting almost a year ago! Amazingly enough, she told the audience, there were attendees from five different states! Sister held the family number record as 13 of her relatives came from as far away as Kansas, along with her Sisters in the PHJC Community, including Sr. Pauline Bridegroom, PHJC, who volunteers at the Center. Sister Joetta expressed her heart felt thanks to everyone for coming for the evening and supporting John XXIII’s mission!
Fr. John Kiefer, Associate Pastor of St. Louis de Montfort, gave the banquet invocation, blessing all who had come to this ‘gathering of friends’ who came together for the Center’s first fundraiser dinner. The very lovely meal of London Broil, salad, vegetables, rolls and pie was served by Taylor University students in a most gracious and efficient manner. Many young men and women from Taylor come to the retreat center at different times of the year, facilitated by Dorothy Stewart, John XXIII Business Manager, to help with leaf raking, yard work, planting and even decorating at Christmas time.
As friendships were renewed and new ones were made, the live music began. Jamie Johnson, a music teacher, led the music on guitar, with Deb & Herb Saxon as primary vocalists. Jamie chose songs related to the speakers’ topics. “We Are Many Parts, But All One Body” was one of the renditions that led into Dr. Jay Kesler’s address on unity within the Body of Christ. Rev. Laura High, M.C. for the evening, introduced Dr. Kesler who had served as President of Taylor University from 1985-2000. He told the crowd that because they were here at this event supporting, “…a spiritual place where all people were welcome… and could go to, to find their true North”… it said something about them. In this world, influenced by secularism, “Christians are citizens within a citizenship”. He told the story of a movie titled, “The New Centurion” where in George C. Scott, a very experienced police officer and a rookie were working together. At 3 am., sharing a cup coffee, the rookie saw many of their arrested criminals being let go and walking out with their lawyers. The rookie was angry! George C. Scott told the rookie about the Centurions in Roman times…that 100dreth man who kept his group of 99 in order and functioning as they should. Then Scott said, “We are the new centurions. At 2 am. when this city is on the cusp of chaos, all are asleep but us, we are the 100dreth man there to keep it from tipping over the brink.”
Dr. Kesler said, “We as Christians, the Body of Christ, are also the new centurions. Together we can follow Christ and make a difference in our ‘city’, the world!” (It is interesting to note that Saturday, October 27 was America’s largest annual day of volunteering: Make a Difference Day!)
The audience laughed when Kesler commented, in his wry sense of humor, that a university professor is expected to be quoting from volumes of knowledge, not from an old movie on late night television! As he ended, he said Sr. Joetta gave him Pope Benedict’s document on the “Year of Faith.” He recommended all read it thoroughly as it had much to say to us at this time in our world.
The Live auction followed, Marty Diekemper, Sr. Joetta’s nephew led us on a fun journey through beautiful jewelry; a hand stitched quilt; and a trip to St. Marrten. All had fun during this interlude. Marty kept it humorous asking for more money because, “My Mom made it!”
The room quieted as Jamie asked all to join in Taize music, repeating: “Be Still and Know That I Am God”, which led into Fr. Keith Hosey’s topic: Silence. After Laura introduced Fr. Keith, he asked us to close our eyes and literally BE Still. For 2-3 minutes there was silence. Then he said, humorously, “Keep breathing, though.” Fr. said that if you never have times of silence, “…you can not know, or find yourself or God.” Fr. talked about how John XXIII was founded and what a joy it was to be director for almost 40 years! Sr. Maureen Mangen, former Co-director with Father, nodded in assent, as Fr. Keith said, “We need places like John XXIII!”
Bob McCreary, Board Member, gave a final appeal, Rev. High closed with prayer and the crowd dispersed with auction treasures in hand.