My pilgrim year as a contemplative

I began my pilgrim year right after the Maria Droste Contemplative Community closed in January 2020. I took a 30-day retreat in February under the spiritual guidance of Janice Rushman, RGS, in Detroit. I used the Itinerary of St. John Eudes as my material for the retreat.

I continued the journey along my pilgrim year on March 7 and joined the Good Shepherd community in Danville, Pennsylvania. My stay in Danville was extended due to COVID. On October 10, I went to Carrollton, Ohio, to live temporarily with apostolic Sisters in the Central South province. So far, I am the only contemplative Sister living in a Good Shepherd apostolic community.

I lack nothing. Instead, I gain more in knowing that wherever He sends me, His abiding presence is tangible in my life.

God took care of me being a refugee in such a time like this. Moving to Carrollton is just a part of my pilgrim year. I have received thank you cards, well wishes, blessings and prayers — lots of sentiments as I have gone forward.

Sisters Mary Carol McClenon, Stella Mangona, and Carmen Flores accompanied me on the drive from Danville to Carrollton. We all enjoyed the drive, the color of the autumn leaves, and the coolness of the day.

Reflecting on missionary work during my pilgrim year

my pilgrim year
Contemplative Sister Elizabeth Garciano opens gifts from the Danville Community at a sending-off party as she prepares to move to Carrollton to live with the apostolic Sisters in the Central South province.

I began missionary work with apostolic Sisters in the year 2000. I had lots of questions, and there were challenges and adjustments for me as I took on this new reality. I have been reflecting on this during my pilgrim year.

Being a contemplative among apostolic Sisters is a life-giving experience. It expands my horizon and broadens my knowledge and understanding. Knowing apostolic Sisters and understanding their ministries allow me to put faces on my life of prayer.

Zeal for mission calls me to respond lovingly with an open heart and mind. All through these 20 years of being a missionary, I have experienced the abundance of God’s providence. I lack nothing. Instead, I gain more in knowing that wherever He sends me, His abiding presence is tangible in my life.

I am physically alone as the only contemplative Sister in Carrollton, but spiritually I am surrounded by the love of other Sisters and peace and joy are in my heart — the most essential part of my being.

I have enjoyed my pilgrim year and am enjoying my new life in the Carrollton community. I believe that the apostolic Sisters in Carrollton deeply appreciate my contemplative presence. Living with the apostolic Sisters does not affect my contemplative identity. We have the same values, charism and spirituality.

By embracing the ministries of the Sisters, I am able to experience their enthusiasm, understanding, support, and respect for the life I share with them. But it is my responsibility to enhance my contemplative life. I thank God for the opportunity He has given me.

Two lifestyles of the Good Shepherd Sisters

Sisters of the Good Shepherd has two lifestyles: contemplative and apostolic. Apostolic Sisters of the Good Shepherd listen to the weary, often muted voices of the poor and the disadvantaged — especially women and children — and then do something about it.

The Contemplative lifestyle of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd is one of prayer. Contemplative prayers are for the Catholic Church and for those who are served by our Apostolic Sisters.

Read about the two lifestyles of Good Shepherd Sisters at https://sistersofthegoodshepherd.com/two-lifestyles/

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Elizabeth Garciano

Elizabeth Garciano

Sister Elizabeth Garciano was the Local Leader for the Maria Droste Contemplative Community in St. Louis, Missouri, before taking her sabbatical year as a pilgrim. She also served as Vocations Director for the Contemplative Good Shepherd Sisters in the Province of Mid-North America.