A Self-Guided Retreat for Women

This program was created for a virtual retreat for the women of OPC that occurred on May 22, 2021. We have kept this page live for those who were unable to join us that day and for all women who find themselves here and might benefit from this time set apart. We are so glad you have decided to participate in this self-guided retreat, and we pray that these resources help you find ways to restore your spirit and refresh your soul.

~ Bethany & Neeley

This is your retreat.

We have provided a suggested schedule, but you can map out your day however you wish! Don’t be afraid to sit in solitude and let the Holy Spirit direct your time. The gatherings highlighted on the suggested schedule in colored boxes designate real-time gatherings that participants had on May 22nd. You can complete the accompanying activities or feel free to replace those with the activities of your choice. Below the suggested schedule, we have provided links to many resources, so take all the time you need to complete the activities or check them all out. This page and these resources will be available indefinitely, so don’t feel pressured to try to cram it all in today. At the end of the day, we want you to feel restored, not stressed!

Document downloads

We have prepared some documents that will help guide you through your retreat. If you did not receive a restoration kit with a printed booklet, you may download one here and navigate it digitally or print it out if you prefer.

Digital retreat bookletto view digitally (36MB)
Digital retreat bookletto print out and fold into a booklet (36MB)
Worksheet booklet pages – to print out for Zoom meeting activities (22kb)

Schedule of suggested activities

8:00/8:30 a.m. Good Morning! 

Take a few moments to be present and center your thoughts and actions on God. Pull out your journal from your Restoration Kit and record any thoughts/prayers for the day.  Complete the optional activity assignment for the morning Zoom meeting.

9:00 a.m. Coffee Connection (ZOOM) – Saturday, May 22
We are grateful so many of you were able to join us online to welcome all of those participating in today’s retreat and open our day in prayer!

Optional activity assignment #1:
When you reflect on the past year, what one word resonates with your experience? Using letters or imagery, capture that word on page 6 of your retreat booklet. You will be given the opportunity to share during our morning Zoom gathering. If you don’t have a booklet, or don’t want to write in your booklet, you may download and print out a sheet here.

confusing exhausting emotional faithful hope grateful isolation thankful blessings frustrated separated pause uncertainty teardrop confused pause emotional strong uncertain flexible stressed worried busy unpredictable lazy busy grateful scared overwhelmed tough reinvent fear thankful patience surviving renewed dark opportunity unhugged faith unmoored patience

10:00 a.m. Suggested Activity: Worship God Your Way 

Take a walk in the outdoors. Check out a music or video playlist, or June’s guided meditation, in the resource links at the bottom of this page. Focus on activities that quiet your soul and re-center your heart on the Lord. Let God speak the words you need to hear. 

10:30 a.m. Suggested Activity: Watch recorded presentation (30 min.)
Daughters of God: Restore and Be Restored – Ann M. Koshute, MTS

Watch Ann’s themed message prepared especially for us, available in the Activities resources section at the bottom of this page. Reflect and gain deeper understanding using the topic materials beginning on page 9 of your retreat booklet. Use your blank journal to record your thoughts. (This video will remain available online for viewing whenever is most convenient.)

About the speaker

Ann Koshute

Ann M. Koshute, M.T.S. holds a Master of Theological Studies from the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family at the Catholic University of America. While studying at the JP II, Ann and her classmates founded Theophany Catholic Theatre Company to perform the plays and poetry of Karol Wojtyła /John Paul II, including at World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany. Following graduation Ann served as Assistant Director of the Family Life Office for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, assisting couples in preparing for marriage. Ann is currently Adjunct Instructor at St. Joseph’s College of Maine, where she teaches theology online. She is a writer and speaker, and recently co-founded an apostolate dedicated to offering support for women and couples bearing the cross of infertility (www.springinthedesert.org). Ann is a columnist for The Eastern Catholic Life, the official publication of the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Passaic. She and her husband Keith live in Palmyra, PA.

12:00-1:30 p.m. Meet at the Oxford Memorial Park – May 22
We hope you all enjoyed this period of completely unstructured downtime while we ate and chatted! It was great to see so many lovely ladies in person after all this time!

Today’s Gathering at the Park

2:00 p.m. Suggested Activity: Do Something Physical

Worship God through art or dance. Get moving and get in tune with your body using Mollie’s stretching video in the Activities resource links below. Get creative by completing the optional activity assignment #2 described below. Pray for the concerns on our prayer list.

3:00 p.m. Wrap-up (ZOOM) – Saturday, May 22
What a wonderful way to wrap up the day! Please continue to submit your prayer requests and pray for one another. Continue to explore the resources we have provided, and continue to rest in the assurance that you are God’s own beloved.

Optional activity assignment #2:
When you reflect on your retreat today, or your hopes for the future, what one word resonates with you? Using letters or imagery, capture that word on page 15 of your retreat booklet. You will be given the opportunity to share during our wrap-up Zoom gathering. If you don’t have a booklet, or don’t want to write in your booklet, you may download and print out a sheet here.

After the retreat, carve out time to dive further into the resources provided below. Share this page with anyone you think might benefit from a self-guided restorative retreat. Revisit your journal in the days and weeks ahead and reflect on the things you learned about yourself today. Pray for guidance and make adjustments as you feel led.

Prayer Requests

Tracy M. and family
Jaime T.
Those still struggling mentally and financially
Jacob Gane
Family of Karen Etter, who lost her battle to cancer
Family of Noah Stephens, killed in car accident Thursday
The Yoder Family
Those struggling with how to get back to normal activities and feel safe
Marriages that have been tested during this time
Nathaniel Caleb
Judy Salyer
Greg in Australia who. had multiple myeloma and is rapidly deteriorating
Vicki Neidigh

Resources to enhance your retreat experience

Activities designed and created especially for this retreat

Daughters of God: Restore and Be Restored – Ann M. Koshute, MTS (30 min.)

Guided Meditation with June Hoffman (21 min.)

Stretching with Mollie Hearne (24 min.)

Music resources curated to comfort and inspire

Click and stream a Spotify playlist specially curated for this retreat.

Prefer to watch music videos? Here’s a YouTube playlist created just for you!

Inspirational videos of faith through trial

Check out this YouTube playlist featuring:

Women in Prison: Life Without Limbs: Nick Vujicic Ministries (16:27)
God Will Sustain You: Priscilla Shirer (28:59)
The God Who Sees: Kathie Lee Gifford & Nicole C. Mullen (12:38)
Suffering is Not For Nothing (Full Movie): Elisabeth Elliot (3:05:27)
The Story Behind “Hope Returns”: Matthew West (2:04)

Other items of interest – a.k.a. “The Back Story”

The Kathy Stullken Memorial Retreat Scholarship Fund & why you got socks in your box

Kathy at the 2009 retreat

The Kathy Stullken Memorial Retreat Scholarship Fund was established to help subsidize registration fees for women who would not otherwise be able to attend the retreat. If the cost of attending our yearly weekend retreat would create a financial hardship for someone, funds are available to assist with all or a portion of the fee. All requests are kept completely confidential. This year’s virtual retreat was completely free for all participants and all costs incurred have been subsidized in part by this fund. If you would like to make a donation to help offset a portion of these costs, or to help someone attend a future women’s retreat, please designate the fund on the comment line of your check to ensure it is credited to the proper account.

Kathy wrapped in her prayer shawl at the 2013 retreat.

Katherine Baird Stullken was a member of Oxford Presbyterian Church for many years. She conceived of and organized our first women’s retreat back in 2006, while in the midst of a personal battle with breast cancer. She won that battle, but the cancer returned.

We lost Kathy on February 4, 2014, just weeks before we were scheduled to gather for our ninth retreat. The retreat that year was in many ways a time of mourning, but also a time of healing, as we recalled Kathy’s quick wit and good-natured cheeky comebacks. We laughed together and cried together, reflecting on the ways that Kathy had touched our lives, not the least of which was the gift of bringing us all together for that first retreat in 2006. The recognition of the profound impact that these retreats have had on us inspired us to create this scholarship in her honor. We could think of no more fitting memorial than to share this gift of fellowship with other women.

Scholarships are funded from proceeds of the sock auction held each year at the retreat, and also by donations from retreat participants and church members who wish to honor Kathy’s memory in a very tangible and meaningful way. The socks in your restoration kit are a loving nod to Kathy’s legacy.

Did someone really pay $100 for a pair of socks?!?

Yes, and maybe even more! Many of us remember sitting in the sock auction during our first retreat and maybe feeling a little confused by the intensity with which some of the women bid on a pair of cat or unicorn socks. But by the end, it all made sense. Each year at our weekend retreats, participants discuss and vote on beneficiaries to receive the proceeds from our sock auction. A portion of the proceeds is kept back for the retreat scholarship fund, and the remainder goes to the selected cause. So the bidding isn’t really for socks. Depending on the selected cause, the amount of your donation that exceeds the actual value of the socks will very likely be tax deductible. Many women plan ahead to bid at the sock auction as part of their normal charitable contributions for the year. But, you do not have to bring socks or bid at all if you’d rather just sit back and watch the silliness unfold. Warning: you may spend the rest of the day with sore sides or numb cheeks from laughing so hard!

On the Sunday following the retreat, the women who attended will wear their socks and get up as a group in front of the congregation to give a brief report on the retreat, including the amount of money that the auction raised, and where the money is going. The congregation always looks forward to sharing in the joy of this “sock parade” and hearing about the weekend.

We can’t wait to once again experience the joy of this wonderful part of our yearly weekend retreats! We included socks in your restoration kit to bring a smile and bring to mind the years of hilarious memories we’ve made together at our sock auctions.

How did the retreat get started?
The first OPW retreat was held in 2006 at Mariawald Retreat Center in Shillington, Pennsylvania. OPC member Kathy Stullken had attended retreats there with her previous church and organized our first women’s retreat, despite waging a personal battle with breast cancer at the time. That first retreat was attended by 17 women, and we returned to Mariawald for the next eight years until they had unexpected major construction and we were forced to find a new location for our 10th year.

Our 2015 retreat was held at McShain-Horstmann Family Life Center at Malvern Retreat House. This facility allowed us to accommodate more women, but we soon learned that March weekends had standing reservations for years into the future. So, in 2016, we moved to nearby Sandy Cove Conference Center which allowed us to accommodate the varied needs of all our retreat participants. The 2016 retreat was attended by nearly 50 women!

In 2019 we again moved locations to St. Mary’s of Providence Center.  This location provided the best of all the previous locations — the privacy of our own building, close location for commuters, and a beautiful property to enhance our spiritual journey for the weekend. Sadly, our 2020 weekend retreat at St. Mary’s was cancelled due to the global COVID pandemic. This year’s virtual retreat was born out of our desire for connection during this time of isolation. We look forward to gathering in person and resuming our weekend retreats once again!