Painting & praying

There’s something about painting and praying that naturally goes together.

That’s the idea behind a March 10 NCSW event called “Pintar y Orar.” The Dallas gathering aims to tap into the popularity of canvas-painting parties, which have inspired many a Girls Night Out, while connecting young Hispanic women with Catholic sisters for conversation and creativity.

The event will be held at the Catholic Charities complex in Dallas and is being organized by the School Sisters of Notre Dame, including four sisters who speak Spanish fluently. They have invited young Hispanic women – a group that, despite its deep Catholic roots, is often overlooked when it comes to exposure to religious life – and expect 20 young women to join them.

dance-of-the-butterflies-large-300x240.jpgEvent organizer Sister Bridget Waldforf, SSND, who heads up North American Vocation Ministry, said the sisters are eager to explore the spiritual underpinnings of the creative undertaking. “Painting moves us to a space beyond the concrete thinking, planning, organizing, rationalizing and justifying realm of our world and ways of being,” she said. “Painting draws deep into the subconscious reflecting and wordless inner feelings and beliefs. It has the ability to open us to expressing ourselves where words may fail.”

The group will be painting an image of butterflies titled Dance of the Butterflies. “We wanted a fun, light image but also one that can share some deep symbolism,” Sister Bridget said. “The butterfly is a good image for transformation and timely for Lent.”

The gathering will be wrapped in prayer, Sister Bridget said, beginning with a blessing and a conversation about the spirituality of painting, the gift of being together and the significance of the butterfly.

“I hope the participants have fun, enjoy meeting the sisters – and vice versa – become more aware of our congregation and consecrated religious, can see the value in the reflective practice of painting and, ultimately, have an experience of God’s presence.”

Joining in a creative venture provides a terrific basis for an NCSW event. A group of Visitation sisters in Minnesota hosts "Knitting with the Sisters," tapping into the resurgence of an old-fashioned pastime. “Perhaps the painting pottery stand-ups would be appealing or teaching young people new board games or card games,” Sister Bridget said. “In a slighter time span, I think these activities mirror what we try to do with short-term mission experiences, which is to share something of who we are as women religious and offer situations where real face-to-face conversations become the gift of spending time in other hands-on activities.”

For her part, Sister Bridget says she’s excited to participate alongside the sisters whose primary culture is Hispanic. “I have lots to learn from them.”

It’s not just painting and prayer that are soothing – it’s the broad and enduring compassion of women religious, a balm for our troubled times. “Because so many consecrated sisters are engaged in ministries where deep reverence for others is fundamental to who they are in mission, they are ready to help heal and listen and engage,” Sister Bridget said. “There are many examples of ways in which religious are trying – through daily and intentional prayer, adding their voice to legislative or congressional issues, advocating on behalf of the marginalized, being witnesses of unity through interactions with ‘others’ – whomever the ‘others’ may be – educating, listening, companioning, washing feet and being persons of hope and trust. The places vary but the goal seems to be universal: to love one another.”

About Christina Capecchi

Christina Capecchi is an award-winning journalist from Inver Grove Heights, Minn. She is the author of the nationally syndicated column “Twenty Something,” which appears in more than 50 Catholic newspapers across the country. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, America, The Chicago Tribune, The Star Tribune and The Pioneer Press. She also provides contracted editing and writing services. She holds a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and a bachelor’s from Mount Mercy University.