Benedictine retreat house in Rock Island becomes a ‘center of compassion’
ROCK ISLAND — If the world is going to be at peace, it may be compassion that turns things around.
The Sisters of St. Benedict of St. Mary Monastery are doing what they can to support that by making their Benet House Retreat Center a “center of compassion,” according to Sister Bobbi Bussan, OSB, director.
“Our goal is to help people learn and act in a compassionate manner,” she recently told The Catholic Post.
Sister Bobbi is part of an ecumenical team, based at Benet House, that includes Jan Gull of Bettendorf, an Oblate of St. Benedict who has helped with programs at the retreat center, and Elaine Olson, a trained spiritual director and psychotherapist who has a wide experience of ministry. They were trained in June by Sister Joyce Rupp, OSM, a well-known author and retreat master who published “Boundless Compassion” this spring after more than a decade of study, prayer and reflection.
The core of it really is that compassion is preventing or relieving suffering. Most things we can’t prevent, but we can help relieve suffering, or help people find some peace in suffering, or we can accompany people in suffering. That presence alone can make a difference. — Sister Bobbi Bussan, OSB
Jesus modeled this way of walking with people, and Sister Bobbi said support groups have adopted this so people know, “You’re not alone.”
Sister Joyce emphasizes compassion as a way of life, according to Sister Bobbi. This “inside-outside” movement can only happen when a person forms a compassionate heart and then shares it.
“She uses the word ‘posture,’” Sister Bobbi explained. “It’s the way you want to live life, it’s the posture you want to carry in life — compassion to all creation.”
What she learned from Sister Joyce’s book and retreat was that this posture can lead to an appreciation of our oneness with others, peaceful relationships, and ultimately, a peaceful world.
“She would say there are compassionate people and strong movements in the world where people are working to be compassionate, but there is so much more negative. It’s like that energy overshadows it,” Sister Bobbi said. “But she believes if we keep working at being compassionate people that energy field will expand.”
Sister Bobbi called it a snowball effect — do it and it will grow.
The book, “Boundless Compassion,” offers a daily reflection on compassion, paired with a Gospel passage, for six weeks. At the end of each week there are questions to consider or suggested activities designed to deepen what you’ve prayed about all week, Sister Bobbi said.
There are currently three book studies taking place at Benet House right now, with 27 people involved. When they are finished, the next step is forming circles of compassion that would meet every month so members can continue to support one another in their attempts to adopt that compassionate posture.
In the meantime, the Benet House Compassion Team continues to make presentations for faith communities in the Quad Cities area. Retreats are also planned:
- “Compassion to Self” will be offered from 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 2, through Saturday, Nov. 3, at 5 p.m. The cost is $110 for those who will be staying over, and $77 for commuters. A soup supper is available at 5:30 p.m. for an additional fee of $9.
- “Compassion to Self” will be held again from Monday, Feb. 4, to Tuesday, Feb. 5. The cost for those who register and pay in full by Jan. 4 is $95 for overnight accommodations at Benet House and $62 for commuters. The fee will increase by $15 on Jan. 5. An optional soup supper is available for $9.
- “Compassion to Others” will be offered from 7:30 p.m. on Friday, March 1, through Saturday, March 2, at 5 p.m. The cost for those who register and pay in full by Feb. 1 is $95 for overnight accommodations at Benet House and $62 for commuters. The fee will increase by $15 on Feb. 2. An optional soup supper is available for $9.
- “Compassion to Others” will be held again from Monday, May 13, to Tuesday, May 14. The cost for those who register and pay in full by April 13 is $95 for overnight accommodations at Benet House and $62 for commuters. The fee will increase by $15 on April 14. An optional soup supper is available for $9.
Benet House Retreat Center is located on the grounds of St. Mary Monastery, 2200 88th Ave. W. For more information or to register, visit smmsisters.org/retreats or call (309) 281-2108.