In speaking about the upcoming women’s retreat, “Undone: Freedom for the Feminine Heart,” Margaret Rhody likes to use the analogy of a garden hose bringing nourishment to the parched roots of the soul.
“God’s grace will flow through and bring water to all the thirsty places — if we can just help women learn how to unkink the hose,” said Rhody, associate director for parish renewal at the Archdiocesan Office of Evangelization and Catechesis.
The retreat, which runs March 30 through April 1 at St. Alphonsus Parish in Greendale, will invite all women over the age of 18 to explore “healing, freedom and confidence in their identity as a beloved daughter of God,” said Rhody.
The retreat spans a Thursday evening, a Friday evening and a day of programming on Saturday, intentionally set up to make it easy for working women to fit into their schedule without having to take time off.
Undone is presented by the John Paul II Healing Center, the Florida-based apostolate that offers the popular Healing the Whole Person retreat, and will be centered on the same healing teaching — but targeted specifically to women.
The women-only format creates a space that is safe and “relatable” for all attendees, said Jaclyn Thompson, event coordinator for the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis. “It’s a unique opportunity to speak directly to a woman’s heart and her experience in the world, and who she is created to be in her identity as daughter, sister, bride and mother.”
Those identities — daughter, sister, bride and mother — are for all women, regardless of life situation, added Rhody. “All women are invited to live into all four of those identities,” she said. “Even if you’re someone like me, who has struggled with infertility, you’re still able to live your motherhood, and to pray into the wounds around that is powerful.”
Rhody also pointed out that the presenter at the retreat who offers the teaching on motherhood identity has lost each of her biological children to miscarriage. “Similarly, we have a number of women who dearly desire to be married, but maybe they just haven’t met their spouse yet,” she said. “But they’re invited to live as a bride of Christ, and this retreat will explore what that can mean and look like.”
The retreat is also for women inhabiting the entire spectrum of Catholic spirituality — from those who are actively practicing to those who are doubting their faith. A familiarity with the teaching of the John Paul II Healing Center is not necessary, but for those who have attended a Healing the Whole Person retreat in the past, Undone represents an opportunity to “go deeper,” said Thompson. “God always has more for you.”
Rhody’s first experience with Healing the Whole Person was in 2016, she said, and her subsequent retreat experiences have built on the healing work she began at that time.
“It’s not a question of ‘Do I have to keep doing this healing work?’ It’s a question of ‘How free do you want to be?’ I keep going back to the well that is this teaching because I keep finding that God has more freedom, more confidence, more wholeness than I was even aware of at the beginning,” said Rhody.
Thompson encourages women of all ages to consider attending, noting that she first encountered the John Paul II Healing Center’s ministry at the age of 19. “The deepening of my own journey has continued over the years. It’s just so good even for people at a younger age.”
In addition to speakers, there will be adoration, prayer, worship music and guided prayer experiences. Dr. Bob Schuchts is an author and the founder and president of the John Paul II Healing Center. His daughter, Carrie Schuchts Daunt, will be one of the presenters, along with Nicole Rodriguez, Melissa Perez and Healing the Whole Person musician Colleen Nixon.
Small group discussion will be offered, but is optional. “No one will force you to talk about your story; there is always an invitation, but it is not required,” said Rhody.
Above all, attendees can expect “good sacramental theology and good psychology, wrapped in prayer.”
“I am convinced that a woman who knows that she is deeply known and loved by her creator — there is nothing that she cannot do,” said Rhody. “The enemy gets us to believe lies, attack ourselves or tear each other down. That’s what stops us from becoming all that God has for us to be, and accomplishing all that he would accomplish through us.”
Registration for Undone: Freedom for the Feminine Heart is $165 per person and can be completed at archmil.org/HWP-Undone. A livestream option is also available for $119 per attendee.