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News from the Novice: Reflections While Preparing for My Mission Year

By Michelle Garlinski, SNJM

As I write, I am listening to the crashing of the waves here at Villa Maria Del Mar in Santa Cruz, CA. I am very grateful to spend a few days here as I work on my evaluation and reflection of the canonical year and prepare for mission year. My time at the Villa overlapped with the group on retreat with the Pilgrimage of the Heart. It was a blessing to be with them in silence (and sometimes not so silent) and sacred time.

Life in the Novitiate House was busy during June, my final month. Guests continued to come and go. Over the Memorial Day weekend, we had a few women who are interested in religious life come and stay with us. Sr. Beth Liebert and I led a retreat day for them, and Sr. Sophia Park and Sr. Carol Nicklas were also part of the experience. It was a nice opportunity for me to share and synthesize some of my learnings and experiences. We ended the weekend with our faith-sharing group and then with a trip to Fenton’s Creamery!

I continued to meet with Sr. Beth each week and participated at my regular service sites. I also attended a three-day workshop with Fr. Anthony Gittins, who offered wonderful insights and challenges about Christian Spirituality and the radical call of Contemporary Discipleship. A perfect way to end my time here. It felt as though he sent me on mission! I also started to serve at another breakfast program, which is part of the Dorothy Day Project and is connected philosophically to the Catholic Worker program where I've already served, yet separate in most other ways. Many of the same guests I served on Sunday were also there on Thursday and so it was nice to continue to foster the relationships.

I attended a Canada Day party on June 26th with my cousin and her family. It is an annual event for the Canadians who live in the Bay Area, and includes activities, games and Canadian beer! Our final gathering with the Sisters who have been part of the Novitiate House prayer group and deepening the vows was on June 24. I requested that we have a conversation about community living and what this looks like as we move forward in Religious Life.

I continued to walk and cycle Berkeley and the surrounding areas. A small setback occurred when my bike had an altercation with the pavement and I fell. The bruises and the wounds on the arm have healed, and the bike seems to be doing well other than a broken reflector. I likely will have the battle scars as a lasting memory. I retired my runners in Berkeley on June 29. They had put on more miles than any warranty would honor and I didn’t think I could do a trade-in. So a new model returns with me to Manitoba!

Please pray for me as I transition from this faithful community of committed Gospel women back to another.

In the photo: Our faith sharing group in Berkeley.