Providence Associates Retreat 2021

Brenda Peddigrew, RSM facilitating the 2019 Chapter of the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul.


In a cosmic moment in early October, 30 Providence Associates and 3 Sisters of Providence gathered via Zoom from our own homes to spend Friday evening and Saturday with Sr. Brenda Peddigrew, RSM, as retreat director once again. We were in the season of Creation, on the cusp of the feast day of Francis of Assisi and the retreat theme was The Art of Hearing Heartbeats.

Brenda is a Sister of Mercy from Newfoundland and a professional facilitator and spiritual teacher. She intentionally lives a contemplative integrated spirituality “on a river surrounded by trees and animals” listening to the many rhythms of each day and season. Brenda has studied and practiced for about 10 years with Dr. Robert Sardelo, a Spiritual Psychologist and founder of The School of Integral Psychology in Dallas, Texas.

The retreat began with welcoming new inquirer Carol-Lynn Manion-Wilson and an opening prayer by Providence Associates Director Barbara Baker. This was followed by a reflective viewing of a beautiful slideshow entitled The World is in Truth a Holy Place.

During the three sessions, Brenda introduced us to a meditation practice using our imaginations, not words, to focus inward and move from the mind to the heart. This shift of consciousness from the mind to the heart, Brenda cautioned, can present difficulties at first as our minds are constantly working – at times giving us a running commentary! Living in a world that is not heart focused but is mind focused has brought us to a world in deep trouble and out of balance, Brenda stressed.

The basic “Heart Presence” practice given to us this weekend brought us outward into exploring nature and inward into embracing our own heartbeat and the heartbeats of all around us – fellow humans, animals, trees, flowers, water, and rocks. This simple practice can be done anywhere, at any time and, takes from 60 – 90 seconds. It is a steadying exercise that allows one to take a “time out”, a “pause”, to remain in the present moment. The Heart Presence practice can also open us up to a deeper way of understanding others who are different from us with a more compassionate awareness. One connects with a source of wisdom that is not intellect/ego but heart/soul.

During our time together, many stories were shared about family relationships, animal companions and nature encounters. Brenda gave us the gift of taking a time out, a “pause” in our ramped up, stress filled, mind driven society; it was sacred time, a Kairos gift.  During the past 20 months of a global COVID pandemic we have lived through challenges, uncertainties, and angst. This retreat was a blessing, a sacred balm to soothe harried spirits and bring us closer to hearing the life force of creation.

The weekend closed with a joyful commitment ceremony for Dianne Hodgkins. With her mentor Sue MacDonald, her son Ian and granddaughter Summer at Dianne’s home and longtime friend Betty attending via Zoom, Barbara Baker and Sr. Gayle Desarmia received Dianne’s commitment also via Zoom. Dianne received her PA pin from her son Ian and became a Providence Associate.

Congratulations Dianne!