A reflection by Catherine Kestler, Associate

The Religious of the Sacred Heart (RSCJ) and Associate’s Indiana Dunes Hiking Retreat took place on August 15-20, 2019. Associates Jane Steinfels, Lori Wilson and I joined Mary Frohlich, RSCJ, Diane Roche, RSCJ, and Jane O’Shaughnessy, RSCJ, at a rural La Porte, Indiana, farmhouse. From there, we ventured to the amazing dunes of Northwestern Indiana.

After a hearty breakfast and time spent in quiet contemplation, we gathered together, each day, on the front porch of a charming farmhouse for a short reflection led by Sister Frohlich. There, we considered Pope Francis’ writings on ecology and deep incarnation; learned about the history of the dunes and pioneers in ecology, such as Henry Chandler Cowles; and quietly paused to listen to the sounds of God’s creation.

We hiked a variety of trails and explored the dunes with their ever-changing landscape that included beaches, black oak forests and wooded wetlands. Our visits to the nature center and talks with park rangers helped us understand, and appreciate, the pristine and unique Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. On two occasions, we swam in the inviting, fresh waters of Lake Michigan! 

Another highlight of the retreat was meeting up with RSCJ, Martha Curry, Mary Bernstein and Ellen Collesano, who drove from Chicago to join us for an evening of dinner and conversation. 

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