Women enter A New Genesis Community

By | July 13, 2011

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Mary Peters, left, and Judy Van Caster, were welcomed into A New Genesis Community on July 8. Peters is a member of St. Philip Parish in Green Bay and Van Caster is a member of St. Norbert College Parish, De Pere. A New Genesis is an association of the faithful established in 1983 with the approval of Bishop Aloysius Wycislo. (Sam Lucero | The Compass)

“Before I met Bill, I was interested in community,” she said. “When he died, that summer, that nudging started coming back. I feel as though it’s coming full circle.”

Two years ago, Peters, a Manitowoc native, began attending A New Genesis meetings. This past year she also explored the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis in Stevens Point. On Jan. 6, the traditional feast of the Epiphany, Peters said she woke up early in the morning and just knew that A New Genesis Community was right for her.

“What an epiphany that was,” she said. “God really leads a person if you’re open. It was just a neat experience. It never ends. There will be more deaths and more resurrections. We are all on that journey. God took me by the hand and showed me. I had never experienced his presence in such a powerful way.”

Peters added that what attracted her to A New Genesis is that the community is centered in the paschal mystery and the radical openness to the Spirit.

“I just feel that being open, especially in times of struggle, that God pulls you through to new life,” she said. “It feels like a good fit. This community allows me the freedom to be who I am.”

Peters served in religious education in Manitowoc, Seymour, Francis Creek and Maple Grove before moving to Green Bay. She will continue to serve at St. Philip the Apostle as a member of A New Genesis Community. Peters started at the parish more than 15 years ago and said she appreciates the support of the people.

“We are all called by our baptism to holiness and to carrying out the Gospel message,” she said. “It’s neat to be involved in people’s lives, experiencing that with people through their struggles and seeing the seeds planted. They were so supportive of me through my husband’s death. They really walked with me through all of that. I’ve been there so long, but every year is different so it doesn’t feel stagnant to me. There is a newness there.”

Peters is looking forward to growing with A New Genesis Community.

“I want to experience how their mission and charism is lived out,” she said. “I want to experience just the richness of all the individuals, the friendships and the journeying together. I never would have imagined that my life would turn out like this. God is full of surprises.”

A New Genesis Community, an association of the faithful, was established in 1983 with the approval of Bishop Aloysius Wycislo. The community is made up of full members, both vowed and non-vowed, and associate members.

For more information, contact Sr. Carmelyn Gentrup at (920) 469-3437 or [email protected]

Van Caster looks forward to outreach ministry opportunities

ALLOUEZ — Judy Van Caster sees a connection between her volunteer work and the outreach provided by A New Genesis Community. That connection prompted her to formally say “yes” to the community after more than four years of attending meetings. Last weekend, Van Caster was welcomed as a candidate. She will guided by two sponsors during her candidacy period before becoming an associate member.

“I took a long process, a lot of prayer and discerning,” said Van Caster, a member of St. Norbert College Parish, De Pere. “I respect all of the women involved. They want to continue to evolve as times change, as people change. They do a lot of good things. Their outreach is what I believe in strongly, and peace and justice, which is also very close to my heart.”

Van Caster’s volunteer efforts include teaching in the re-entry program at Green Bay Correctional Institution and Sanger B. Powers Correctional Center, Oneida, where she also works in restorative justice.

“I have really enjoyed working with (inmates),” she said. “I always go in and say, ‘You are good people who have made poor choices.’ A lot of us on the outside have made a lot of stupid mistakes and poor choices, but we are not locked up.”

If people question why she reaches out to those incarcerated, “they get an earful,” she said.

“The justice system is really skewed, especially towards minorities,” she said. “Our prison system is in need of repair. I mostly talk about the good people that I’ve met in prison. There are a lot of good men there.”

Van Caster, who has a degree in natural health, works with essential oils and herbs, stone massage and healing hands. She also hosts prayer and healing gatherings at her home and facilitates retreats for women. She serves on the peace and justice committee at her parish and leads monthly peace gatherings at the church. Her ministry background includes 34 years as a director of religious education and youth ministry. She served at St. Francis and St. Mary in De Pere, St. Jude in Green Bay, Nativity of Our Lord Parish in Ashwaubenon and half-time at St. Norbert College Parish.

“I loved my work, which a lot of people can’t say,” she said. “I worked mostly with teenagers, middle school and high school students. I loved doing retreats for the young people.”

Van Caster, the mother of five grown children and grandmother of six, retired from parish ministry eight years ago, when her husband, Ron, became ill. He died six years ago.

Van Caster, who is from Green Bay and grew up as a member of St. Philip the Apostle Parish, plans to continue her outreach as an associate member of A New Genesis Community.

“I would like to be more connected and to learn from them,” she said. “I like their ideas. It sort of enhances what I’m doing, which is part of the whole reaching out. They reach out to the community to try to help and serve.

“It’s a good thing for me,” she added. “It will give me an opportunity to get involved in some of their committee work. I’m looking forward to that. I’ve been kind of on the outside looking in and now it’s time to move forward.”

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