From December 27-31, 2022, the Dominican Sisters of Sparkill in Pakistan participated in a retreat led by Sister Margaret Palliser, OP. Three local communities gathered in Bahawalpur, Multan, and Loreto to view daily presentations and reflect on “Mary of Nazareth, Mother of God.” This groundbreaking, hybrid retreat combined content shared on Zoom by Sister Margaret, personal prayer time, in-person prayer and liturgy, and group sharing. Sister Margaret also posted her content (including resources, reflection guides, and recordings of the presentations) to a dedicated web page to enhance the Sisters’ experience. She expressed her hope that some of the materials would serve as ongoing resources for the Sisters throughout the year.
The retreat focused on the Blessed Mother as a companion and guide, her many ways of being present, and aspects of her motherhood of Jesus and of us. Sister Margaret presented Mary as a focal point for the retreat, a natural choice for a retreat between Christmas and the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.
During this first retreat offered on Zoom by a Dominican Sister in the U.S. to the Dominican Sisters in Pakistan, Sister Margaret said that art speaks beyond words, and she included works of art to convey her daily themes. “We touch God through the mysticism of artists. We catch a glimpse of their experience of God as they convey it so eloquently through their art. Since the days of the early Church, art has been a powerful way for Christians to grow closer to God.”
The Dominican Sisters in Pakistan welcomed this new form of retreat experience and extolled the opportunity to connect across continents and between local communities. They appreciated the wonderful opportunities for in-person sharing, as well as the inspiration they experienced in a supportive, online community.