February 25, 2005

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

25th anniversary for Storyfest Journeys

The one thing my husband and I promised ourselves before he retired was to travel outside our home-zone of comfort and commitments. Although we do go out of state to visit family and friends or for special events now and then, we have not yet fulfilled our promise. Perhaps my wanderlust is why I so enjoy the periodic “Storyfest Journey” e-mails from Robert Bela Wilhelm and his wife, Mary Jo Wilhelm, a Catholic couple in Maryland whose ventures and adventures have a deeply spiritual element.

Although not members of a Franciscan fraternity, they do “live the Rule as much as possible,” claims Robert Wilhelm. That says much about them! They began Storyfest Journeys in 1979, and they’ve been sharing their faith, wisdom, expertise, travels and seminars through the Internet for 10 years. Extensive and interesting background information, travel brochures, books and CDs are available via www.storyfest.com.

Their biographies also help readers understand them on a more personal level. For instance, Mary Jo tells how their three children died young from Werdnig-Hoffmann Syndrome. This led her initially to become a professional storyteller for children in hospitals. Both she and her ­husband are seasoned educators and ­writers.

Recently, I received their 2005 schedule, which I condensed to share with Criterion readers:

Journey: Orkney Islands, Scot­land—May 8-14: 5,000-year-old “stonehenges;” the Island of Hoy’s dramatic land- and-seascapes; St. Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall (medieval Nordic and Scottish traditions); Wyre Island and the castle of Viking Coobie Roo; Egilsay Island, where St. Magnus was martyred; and portside Stromness with artisans and writers.

Journey: Assisi, Italy—July 10-16: Basilica of St. Francis and frescoes of Giotto; Gubbio (where Frances spoke to a wolf); San Damiano (the life of St. Clare); Ancient Umbrian, Roman and Roman­esque above-and-below-ground sites; mountain hermitage of LaVerna (Francis and the stigmata), plus masterpieces of Renaissance artist Andrea Della Robbia.

Seminar—Aug. 7-13: Sugarloaf Mountain, Maryland: “The Art of Luke the Storyteller in His Gospel and Book of Acts,” storytelling style and spirituality of St. Luke, parables of women and the poor, “Prodigal Son” and “The Good Samaritan,” as well as dramatic storytelling/spiritual fervor in Luke’s Acts of the Apostles.

Seminar—Aug. 14-20: Sugarloaf Mountain: 12th annual Apprenticeship Week of the School of Sacred Storytelling: Small-group seminar on storytelling skills and techniques and an ecumenical spirituality of sacred storytelling.

Journey—Oct. 2-8: Santiago de Compostela, Spain: Burgos Cathedral/ Christian, Islamic and Jewish traditions; “Song of Roland” and “Deeds of El Cid” along pilgrimage road; Leon Cathedral/spirituality of the saints on the road, especial Martin of Tours and Mary Magdalene; Gaudi’s architectural masterpiece in Astorga, the mountain village of Debreiro and Shrine of the Holy Grail; Shrine of Santiago (St. James the Apostle).

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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