Lindsey Weishar: Basking in the afterglow of the ‘Enkindle’ retreat for artists

Participants in the “Enkindle” retreat for artists Sept. 30 to Oct. 2 at St. Matthew Parish in Champaign included, back row from left, Nancy Warfel, Mary Thissen, Teri Wilke, Veronica Gualandri, Jill Rodts, Sara Jahn, and retreat chaplain Father Charles Klamut; front row from left are Rebekah Mead (holding Peregrine Mead), retreat coordinator Lindsey Weishar, Susan Kloth, and Emma Reymann. (Provided photo)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Columnist Lindsey Weishar led a retreat for women artists, “Enkindle,” the weekend of Sept. 30-Oct. 2 at St. Matthew Parish in Champaign. She devotes this month’s column to the artists from across the diocese who attended and their work.

October is perhaps the most brilliant month for afterglow. As the sun sets, it throws its golden hour over trees whose leaves have turned crimson, gold, and even tangerine in their autumnal glory. Shortly after the sun sets, the western sky is still filled with brilliance and the trees retain their radiance.

This image is akin to my feeling post-Enkindle retreat. The 10 women from around our diocese who participated in this retreat for artists have left in me a residual brilliance, a reminder of the beauty that comes from gathering together as community to grow as Catholics and creatives. We were accompanied by wonderful speakers: Father Matthew Hoelscher, who spoke on the necessity of rest; Father Charles Klamut, who spoke on the necessity of beauty; and local author Susan Furlong, who spoke on vulnerability and the artistic life. The weekend also involved the artists sharing their work at St. John’s Catholic Newman Center and with the parishioners of St. Matthew in Champaign.

Today’s article is an invitation to learn about some of the artists in our diocese. My prayer is that you are inspired to learn more about each of them, that you may bask in the afterglow of their art.

Veronica Gualandri — Created to inspire the next generations of saints, Veronica’s Future Saint Apparel offers t-shirts, sweatshirts and active wear, all designed with beautiful faith-inspired messages. Also find her on Instagram at @FutureSaintApparel and on Etsy at

Rita Henneman — Rita started working with oils in 2001. See her beautiful, almost-photographic image of Pope Saint John Paul II here.

Sara Jahn — Sara is a realist painter, and her work is incredibly life-like, offering much fruit for meditation. Find her work on her website,, as well as on Instagram at @sarajahnart.

Susan Kloth — Susan’s work, made from papier-mâché and other found objects, is a reflection on the whimsy and inherent value of children. Through her work for 40 Days for Life, Susan notes that the value of children is sometimes overlooked in our society. Her owl is pictured below, and its claws are made of hair clips.

Rebekah Mead — Head over to Rebekah’s Etsy shop Bekah Makes Things to discover an array of delightful items—teacup candles, mini painted portraits of saints, a crocheted Hobbits breakfast set for littles, and much more. Also find her on Facebook at Bekah Makes Things and Instagram at @bekahmakesthings.

Emma Reymann — Emma’s work in textile arts is amazing! Check out a picture of an embroidered wall hanging of the first initial of her last name. She also sews and crochets.



Jill Rodts — Jill’s work encapsulates a variety of artistic genres: she illustrates holy cards, writes icons, paints, creates chalk illustrations, and writes poetry. Find her work on Instagram at @jill_rodts, on Facebook at Jill Rodts, and on her website:

Mary Thissen — Mary is a writer and poet. Her work is forthcoming in VOICES, a magazine of Live Today Well Collective, a Catholic website for women meant to bolster prayer life, no matter the season one’s in. She also previously wrote for the website, I Believe in Love.

Nancy Warfel — Nancy designed the “Christ the Shepherd” mosaic (pictured below) for Immaculate Conception Church in Fort Smith, Arkansas. She also has created beautiful paintings and drawings.

Teri Wilke — Teri is both a poet and a ukulele player. She’s active in the group Champaign-Urbana Ukulele Jam. If you’re in the area, especially during the upcoming holidays, look for her group’s concerts.

Father Charles Klamut — As chaplain for Enkindle, Father Charles gave us a preview of his latest album, “Psalms,” which dropped on Oct. 11. Learn more about “Psalms” — including links to sample, stream, or purchase it — in this Catholic Post story.

In his 1999 “Letter to Artists,” Pope Saint John Paul II says, “Every genuine art form in its own way is a path to the inmost reality of man and of the world.” Each person who attended the Enkindle retreat revealed a path to this inmost reality. In the afterglow of this retreat, I rejoice for the beauty that dwells in this diocese, for the richness of these hearts.

Lindsey Weishar

Lindsey Weishar is a poet, freelance writer, and native of Champaign who has a master of fine arts in creative writing from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She is executive assistant to the president at Donnelly College in Kansas City, Kansas. Write to her at

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