Note to reader: For the last eight years, Mary Lou Adame has served on leadership teams for DSC’s Five Day Academy for Spiritual Formation. Why has she volunteered to do this? Here are a few thoughts she passed on to me on her way to visit a friend in San Antonio. Jerry Haas (Mary Lou and Jerry are both ordained Elders and members of DSC)
JERRY: Mary Lou, you obviously like the Academy as you keep coming back to serve on the leadership team, most recently from your retirement home in Bryan, Texas. What’s the one thing that you like the most about this experience?
MARY LOU: It’s the fellowship. I love getting to know people from all over and to hear where they are at spiritually. People come to the Academy for a variety of reasons, not always the presenters. The depth and quality of the relationships that come out of the Academy are the things I remember the most.
JERRY: Why did you go to the two-year Academy when you were a participant back in 2010?
MARY LOU: I was pastoring a church and running on empty. I really needed to be fed and reenergized, for myself first, but then I also needed to be fed so I could give my all to my congregation. The congregation deserved a pastor who was fully alive, and the Academy was my saving grace.
JERRY: How have you seen it impact others?
MARY LOU: As a member of the leadership team, I’ve often seen people coming tired, empty, worn-out. They look so much different when they leave! Rested, energized, ready to take it on and return to their life and ministry as clergy or lay.
JERRY: I remember what another member of a leadership team once said to the participants when they arrived: during these five days, God will show up some place in your life, maybe in the silence, or sitting around the table, or in worship, or in one of the lectures. God will be there.
MARY LOU: Very true. And sometimes it’s the retreat center itself. The Redemptorist Renewal Center is such a beautiful and peaceful place.
JERRY: What else has the Academy given you?
MARY LOU: The Academy has really given me a better sense of empathy. As a Hispanic growing up in a Hispanic culture, I’ve been amazed to hear the stories of people who come from very different backgrounds and perspectives. This year’s Academy with our two presenters, one Black and the other Asian, promises to be very rich that way.
JERRY: Anything else?
MARY LOU: Just to add that despite how serious all of this sounds, we really laugh a lot. I think that’s because we take the time to really listen to each other, and there’s time to chill out and enjoy.
JERRY: As a pretty serious person, that was my biggest surprise when I went to the Academy. Now it’s one of the things I like the most – the kind of fun that comes when you feel safe and close with a lot of respect and joy inside.
The 2021 Arizona 5 Day Academy is October 24-29,2021 at the Redemptorist Renewal Center in Tucson, AZ. To learn more and to register, visit https://dscumc.org/arizona-five-day-academy/