August 18, 2017

Retreat offered for widows ‘no matter where you are’ in life

Young widow Jennifer Trapuzzano, 28, and her daughter Cecelia bid farewell to Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin on Dec. 5, 2016. She had turned to him earlier that fall about an idea she had for a Catholic widow’s retreat, which has come to fruition and will be held at the Benedict Inn Retreat & Conference Center in Beech Grove on Sept. 22-24. (File photo by Natalie Hoefer)

Young widow Jennifer Trapuzzano, 28, and her daughter Cecelia bid farewell to Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin on Dec. 5, 2016. She had turned to him earlier that fall about an idea she had for a Catholic widow’s retreat, which has come to fruition and will be held at the Benedict Inn Retreat & Conference Center in Beech Grove on Sept. 22-24. (File photo by Natalie Hoefer)

By Natalie Hoefer

Jennifer Trapuzzano, 28, has learned many things since she became a widow three years ago, when her husband Nathan was shot while on a morning walk in Indianapolis.

Among those lessons, she says, is that “no matter the age, experience or how long it’s been, widows share a common bond. Until you’ve been a widow, you can’t understand.”

But the young mother—Trapuzzano’s daughter was born just one month after Nathan’s death—says she has found strength in two things: “Faith has held me up, and fellowship has gotten me through.”

That is why she is coordinating a retreat for widows called “Peace in the Mourning,” with help from the archdiocesan Office of Pro-Life and Family Life. It will be held at the Benedict Inn Retreat & Conference Center in Beech Grove on Sept. 22-24.

The member of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish in Indianapolis notes that the weekend retreat will be “very Catholic,” including the rosary, adoration, confession and Mass.

However, she says, “those not in a good place with their faith, or Christians who don’t understand the Mass, could still benefit from this retreat more than a secular widows’ group or conference.”

Trapazzuno knows this firsthand. She attended a non-religious widow’s retreat in the spring of 2016, where she got to meet some of the widows she had come to know through St. Paula’s Young Catholic Widows, an online support group she started within a year of Nathan’s death.

“It was great to meet the other widows,” she says of the retreat, but “something was missing. The talks were so secular. Some talks were so disappointing because they were counter to my faith.”

She wondered if there could be a similar Catholic retreat “where you get the fellowship but also have faith involved. It weighed on my heart. I kept feeling a nudge from the Holy Spirit.”

That nudge led Trapuzzano to mention her idea to then-Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin, who was a speaker at an event along with her last September. He introduced her to Annette “Mickey” Lentz, archdiocesan chancellor, and the retreat took form from there, with the help of the Office of Pro-Life and Family Life.

In addition to the Catholic-specific elements, the retreat will include a presentation by Father James Farrell, pastor of St. Pius X Parish in Indianapolis. Providence Sister Connie Kramer will present on “unfinished business,” which “looks at the relationship between the person left behind and the spouse who has left.”

Trapuzzano will give a witness talk as well, but she won’t be the only widow speaking.

“Retreatants can share their story,” she says. “It’s so important for each person’s story to be heard to grow in that bond together. We’ll give different ages time to talk about their experience, what it’s like to be an older widow versus a younger widow.

“And there will be activities in which that people can grow in bonding together. To have faith and fellowship come together—every widow needs that.”

Trapuzzano says she expects there “will be some sad moments. But there will also be lots of laughter and love. Through the tears and laughter, we’ll find fellowship that will last beyond this retreat.”

For widows hesitating to come to the retreat, she advises they keep other widows in mind.

“If you come, you could be helping someone who might not get that help if you don’t come,” she says.

Regardless of age, regardless of whether the widow has children, regardless of Christian faith background, Trapuzzano encourages widows to attend the retreat.

“I tell every woman, ‘I hate we had to meet this way, but we’re here to walk with you,’ ” she says.

“No matter where you are in your faith or journey as a widow, we want you at this retreat.”
 

(The “Peace in the Mourning” retreat will be held at the Benedict Inn Retreat & Conference Center, 1302 Southern Ave., in Beech Grove, on Sept. 22-24. The cost is $150 for a shared room, or $200 for a private room. For information on scholarships that are available on an as needed basis, call Deb VanVelse at 317-236-1586 or 800-382-9836, ext. 1586, or e-mail PeaceInTheMourning@gmail.com. For more information or to register, visit www.archindy.org/plfl/PeaceInTheMourning.html, or call Deb VanVelse at 317-236-1586 or 800-382-9836, ext. 1586.)

Local site Links:

Like this story? Then share it!