God’s peace rules her life

By Monica Sawyn | For The Compass | July 1, 2015

Healthy lifestyle, faith life turn Ciganic’s world around

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]STURGEON BAY — She’s wife, mother, teacher. More recently, she’s the one who spoke to fellow parishioners after Mass about the exercise classes she heads as part of her newly developed ministry of wellness.

Your Catholic Neighbor: Lynda Ciganic (Monica Sawyn | For The Compass)
Your Catholic Neighbor: Lynda Ciganic (Monica Sawyn | For The Compass)

More than any of that — and more important to Lynda Ciganic than anything else — is her growing identity as an enthusiastic disciple of Christ.

Lynda and her husband, Nick, have lived in Sturgeon Bay since 1978. They started out at St. Joseph Parish, but moved to Corpus Christi when they built a home on the west side. There they raised their children.

“God called me to be a teacher when I was in fifth grade, and I taught my whole life. Then the bottom fell out when I retired,” Lynda said. She had gained weight and was out of shape, couldn’t stop smoking and her marriage was merely limping along.

Then, God took over. Or rather, Lynda would say, she let him take over.

“Three years ago, I heard him tell me to go to Anytime Fitness,” Lynda said. She did, and she stuck with it for the first time “because it was God’s idea, not mine.” When the time was right, she also felt him tell her that it was time to quit smoking, and she did, walking away from it cold turkey without ever looking back.

Her personal trainer was a Christian who became a friend, someone she could share with about her faith life and who helped Lynda grow in her own. When her trainer suggested that Lynda become a certified exercise leader, she again saw that as God leading her to what would become her Ministry of Wellness.

Lynda became certified by the American Arthritis Association in low impact exercise for the total body that can be modified for people of all physical abilities. Lynda herself has had to deal with the results of contracting polio as a child, so the goal in the class isn’t to turn people into athletes, it’s to improve their overall quality of life.

For two years, she taught at the Door County Senior Resources Center. Last year, she took her Ministry of Wellness idea to her pastor, Fr. Carl Schmitt, and to Deacon Ray Ambrosius and was given their blessing. The classes are held in the former school building on the St. Joseph Church campus in Sturgeon Bay.

Members of her classes have come from the general community as well as area Catholic parishes, and one of the participants, an avowed agnostic, said it was the first time she’d ever responded to a “church activity.” Despite that mix, Lynda always includes prayer at the end of each class.

“If God can’t be part of it, it’s not worth doing,” Lynda said. “I pass around a notebook before the class starts so that anyone who wants can write down prayer requests.” The agnostic always passed the notebook on without writing — until one day, she wrote a request.

“You could just feel the Holy Spirit in that room,” Lynda said.

Even those for whom praying might be a stretch, accept it in the classes because Lynda never preaches. She shows them she’s concerned about the whole person.

“We belly laugh at some point in every class,” she said. “And I want everyone to feel loved and that they belong. For some people, they feel they’re not invisible anymore.”

Lynda nurtures her spiritual life with more than Sunday Mass. A top priority is the hour or so of “quiet time” that she spends each morning reading Scripture and devotional books and praying to Jesus. She’s also begun to dip into the practice of Lectio Divina.

“God waited for me for so long, until I stopped worrying about myself,” Lynda said. “Once you let God in, and you stop fighting him, the joy is immense. I finally ‘get’ that he loves me, and I’m on fire to serve him and to share.”

Along the way, Lynda and Nick’s marriage grew into something “better than I ever thought possible.” It’s because, she said, God’s peace rules her life.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_message color=”alert-info” style=”rounded”]Your Catholic Neighbor

Name: Lynda Ciganic

Parish: Corpus Christi, Sturgeon Bay

Age: 67

Favorite saint: Francis of Assisi

Words to live by: “Keep God’s temple (the body) healthy.”[/vc_message][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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