Center For Life Transitions Logo St. John's Abbey Guesthouse

LifeSHIFT: Work & the Christian Journey

Saint John’s Abbey Guesthouse
Collegeville, MN
April 24-26, 2015

Spring finally came to central Minnesota and 10 retreatants enjoyed the Saint John’s Abbey and University campus and Lake Sagatagan during their individual time.

This LifeSHIFT retreat at the Benedictine Abbey Guesthouse was the first in Minnesota and people came from New York, North Dakota, Wisconsin, the Twin Cities and various towns in Minnesota. Community was built through a balance of presentations, small group work, prayer, solitude and individual, free time.

In his Rule

Saint Benedict reminds us that “Idleness is the enemy of the soul; and therefore the brethren ought to be employed in manual labor at certain times, at others, in devout reading.” Although no one plowed a field or cut wood, hard work prevailed throughout the weekend as well as opportunity for prayer and spiritual enrichment. Another piece of wisdom from the Rule is, “And let them first pray together, that so they may associate in peace.”

Career planning, job seeking, vocational call and spiritual formation were integrated throughout the weekend. The work of William Bridges, Parker Palmer, Richard Bolles, Edgar Schein and Herminia Ibarra were used while St. Ignatius Loyola, Theresa of Avila, Thomas Merton, Alfred Delp, SJ and Henri Nouwen were sources of spirituality. Ignatian Spirituality offered participants the opportunity to work on aspects of the Spiritual Exercises and a guided exercise was used from John 1:35-40.

The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”

Participants organized a variety of handouts, articles and exercises into a binder using Career Planning & Job Hunting, Transition, Vocation, Spirituality, and Poems & Prayers categories.

Activities receiving highest marks included the Values Card Sort, Chalice Prayer, Ignatian guided meditation, Strong Interest Inventory, Life/Work RoadMAP and the opportunity to learn from each other. Karl Barth’s advice to speak to each other so “talk is not wooden” and “inner sparks can burst into flame” seemed to characterize the time together.

During their free time, retreatants could also learn about The St. John’s Bible displayed in the library and the world renowned pottery of Richard Bresnan.

Retreatants Feedback

“I appreciated having dedicated, structured time to consider my transition and the resources provided were most beneficial.”

“The integration of Work/Career Planning and Spirituality was extremely relevant to me and will provide resources going forward.”

“I valued being led gently, confidently and in fellowship with each other.”

“Community and leadership helped me meet my retirement planning goals while providing courage and reassurance through spiritual focus.”

“Praying and worshiping with the monks in the beautiful chapel deepened the spirituality of the weekend.”

“Most important for me was hearing the responses to the various activities, content and listenting to how God was speaking to me though the participants and the leader.”

“The environment was wonderful and adding another day to absorb and really accomplish the tasks, set goals, process ideas would have been ideal.”