The Compass: Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin     Lent
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Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin
March 15, 2002 Issue

Bragging about coming home
to Christ's love

Koinonia weekend helps find the faith in God that you may think you have lost

By Connie Nedohon

More on Koinonia

For more information on Koinonia or to attend a weekend, phone Connie Nedohon at (920)496-5822 or Jean Felber, the registrar for Koinonia, at (920)391-9356.

Koinonia weekends are scheduled March 22-24 at St. Joseph, Sturgeon Bay; April 19-21 at Holy Family, Marinette; May 17-19 at St. Mary of the Angels, Green Bay; Sept. 13-15 at Sacred Heart, Appleton; Oct. 18-20 at St. Anthony, Tigerton.

More than 30 years ago, I lost something precious somewhere in New York, only to find it 30 years later in a small library at St. Mary Church in Luxemburg.

Not only did I find it, it was much cleaner and purer than when it was lost.

I grew up in a Boston suburb in a typical 1940s Irish Catholic family, believing that God was to be feared, rather than being our all-loving Creator who loves me unconditionally. After graduation from Emmanuel College, a Catholic women's college in Brookline, Mass., I taught English and Latin on Long Island.

I married four years later and, within five years, began raising my three beautiful sons. Slowly, I came to realize that I was married to an alcoholic and in an almost daily abusive situation. When the abuse became more than I could cope with and, with the advice of a Christian counselor, I deemed it best for my family's welfare to leave my marriage.

Blaming God

That was when I found myself separating from God, who I blamed for all my hardships. After all, if there truly were a God, where was he now when I most needed him?

My situation only worsened. Over the next 10 years, I looked death in the face a few times. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1986 and again in 1993, and underwent radical mastectomies each time.

I worked as an editor of scientific journals for the American Institute of Physics and was able to survive, at least financially, in the "single parent" world. In 1993 my ex-husband died. Life seemed to be one struggle after another. And God was nowhere to be found -- or so I thought.

In 1998, I survived a bad car accident and after nine months of physical therapy, I moved to Green Bay. Why? My sister lived here and the Packers were my favorite team.

But my first six months here were miserable. My sister and I didn't get along. I missed my sons and my New York friends.

'No thanks'

Then, one Saturday in March of 2000, a stranger asked if I would like to make a Koinonia. What? She explained that it was a Catholic retreat. I stopped her right there. "Hmmmm, thanks, but no thanks," I curtly replied.

But the application landed in my hand in spite of my definitive answer. And somehow I landed on the steps of St. Mary in Luxemburg that following snowy Friday evening.

What was lost

All I remember for sure about that weekend is that I stayed at St. Mary's for three glorious days. At 3 a.m. April 8, I found what I had been seeking for over 30 years. God wrapped his loving arms around me and engulfed me in his love all weekend and hasn't let me go since. He had been knocking on my door all along and I finally let him in.

The greatest guest

God gives us everything we need, but first we need to invite him into our lives. He doesn't like being labeled as "an intruder." But once you let him in, he'll be the greatest guest you'll ever encounter.

I could not be happier today. I now travel my Lenten journey with an overabundance of Wisconsin friends. I distribute the Eucharist and am a sacristan at Nativity of Our Lord Parish in Green Bay. I do a Liturgy of the Word service at various nursing homes and am a catechist for sixth graders and physically and mentally challenged adults.

Am I bragging? You bet your life I am! I am bragging that I have finally "come home" again. Although your encounter with Christ on a Koinonia weekend might not be quite as powerful as mine, not only will you encounter Christ in community on a weekend that you will cherish in your heart forever, but your Koinonia weekend also comes with a full "money back" guarantee.

In addition, anyone seeking religious certification in the Green Bay Diocese can receive 12 hours just for attending a Koinonia weekend.

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