PLAINFIELD — Deacon Jim Trzinski of St. Paul Parish seeks many different ways of connecting people’s faith with their everyday lives.
“There’s more to the Catholic faith than just inside the four walls of the church,” he said. “We can do outside things with a faith story in mind. We don’t have to sit in the pews to share our faith. It’s important to share not only the head knowledge of our faith but also the heart knowledge, the heart witness. Through our stories and experiences of how God has touched our lives, we can grow in our faith.”
With this tenet in mind, Deacon Trzinski is offering the parish’s first Women in the Great Outdoors retreat on Sept. 26. It follows in the footsteps of the bow-hunting retreats that he started offering for men and their sons last year. Those three-day retreats were a great success, he said.
“Most of the time we spent sharing stories about our faith, our lives, our families and our jobs,” Deacon Trzinski said. “The men were really open to it. As the women in our parish started to see the excitement from the men, they asked me if I could do something along that line for them. With a little help from the Holy Spirit, I was led me to put together this program for the Women of the Great Outdoors retreat.”
Deacon Trzinski said he is looking to reach out to people by sharing in outdoor activities.
“What I want to do is get out and meet some of the ladies where they’re at,” he said. “A lot of the women in our parish are very outdoors-oriented and this is a big agricultural area. The premise is there is an underlying topic of fun in the outdoors and learning something new. What I’m going to challenge the women to do that day is find someone they haven’t met before and share with them how Christ has touched their lives.”
He said that by sharing stories about topics such as their marriages, illnesses and children, the women will come to understand that they can take Christ into their outdoor activities and share their faith in something that’s fun, recreational and educational.
Topics for the retreat are varied. Because Deacon Trzinski is a former professional photographer and photography teacher, he will lead a session on outdoor photography.
Both Deacon Trzinski and his wife, Leigh Ann, enjoy archery, so he has engaged archery instructor Lexi Keller from Archer’s Quest of Oshkosh and Richfield to lead a session.
Other topics will include fly fishing, campfire cooking, cooking outdoor game and fish, and fall gardening techniques and plantings.
“Women who have signed up already are very excited about the different opportunities that they have never been able to do before,” Deacon Trzinski said.
Through the bow hunting retreats, Deacon Trzinski said a lot of relationships have developed even after just one year. “It wasn’t all about hunting deer. It was about spending time with other good Catholic men,” he said. “Now women will be able to connect with others and inspire them to go out and go fishing. Sometimes, husbands and wives think the outdoors is more for men. I want to really break that mold. Women should be able to share those times with their husbands and brothers. They should spend that time together.”
Pre-registration for the women’s retreat is appreciated and available until Sept. 22. Women of all ages can bring their daughters or come alone.
Also, a few openings remain for each weekend of the men’s bow-hunting retreats Oct. 9-11 and Oct. 23-25. Men can bring their sons or come alone. Participants needn’t be Catholic or members of the Plainfield parish to attend. Information is available at stpaulplainfield.com.
“More and more women are trying to do things in the outdoors,” Deacon Trzinski said. “Even if they don’t hunt, they’re spending time with the families at the 3-D archery courses. It’s a good marriage builder but also a great family-building opportunity. It’s not just for your dad , your husband or your brother. It’s for all of you to spend quality time together.”