Our Lady of Victory hosted daylong retreat
By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — Karen Kilburg held up a small poster board studded with colorful rhinestones highlighting the word “GOD” during a craft project at Our Lady of Victory Parish. At round tables in the parish hall, adults with disabilities and volunteers looked up from their rhinestone masterpieces to admire someone else’s artwork. They resumed their own projects, talking and laughing as they carefully affixed sparkling rhinestones to poster boards during a morning session of the Feb. 27 renewal day for adults with disabilities, friends, families and caregivers.
It’s a labor of love for Kilburg and volunteers who help her plan and organize the annual renewal day, now in its 12th year. Twenty-three adults with disabilities and 35 volunteers participated in this year’s event, promoted as a day “designed for adults with disabilities, family and caregivers who want to deepen their relationship with God.” They do so through prayer, sharing, breaking bread and friendship.
This year’s theme was “Great Things Happen When God Mixes With Us,” inspired by a song Kilburg remembers singing in her Catholic grade school in Bellevue, Iowa. The day included three talks, two craft projects, music, prayer and lunch.
For their first “task,” each table of participants created a name, keeping in mind the renewal day’s theme and the unique characteristics of table members. They came up with “God’s Chatter Boxes” (“we love to talk,” explained volunteer Kathy Loomis); “Butterfly;” “Lucky 7;” “God’s Perfect Mix;” “God’s Rock Stars;” “The Power Rangers for God;” “PKM&MSJ;” “Aloha Ladies;” and “I like God and Dear Lord.”
Juanita and Gary Ghere of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish-Bettendorf accepted an invitation to volunteer at the renewal day after signing up their 20-year-old daughter Caitlin for the event. “I saw something about it a few years ago in The Catholic Messenger,” Juanita said. “Our faith is very important to us. We wanted Caitlin to have a faith experience like we’ve had through CEW (Christian Experience Weekend).”
Caitlin, a senior at Pleasant Valley High School in Bettendorf, said she liked being with her friend Maddie at the renewal day and learning about Jesus. “It’s been great so far,” said her dad, Gary, volunteering a couple of tables away. “It’s good to see the smiles on their faces,” he said of the participants.
Parishioner Xavier Hufstedler, a student at West High School in Davenport, was working on the poster board project with Bob Ragona. “I just like being with the participants,” Xavier said of his second time volunteering at the event.
Voices of Victory, composed of three of the parish’s choir members — Chris Olds, Mark McGraw and Paul Krzmarzick — led the participants in music. Kilburg heard participant Mary Ann Burress reacting to an especially peppy song. She exclaimed, “I can feel it in my heart; it got my ticker moving!”
That might have been one of the “God moments” for Kilburg. “Every time I looked at a table I saw someone smiling. That’s why I like doing this; I can see everyone having a good time.”
Tappa’s Steak House in Davenport served lunch: turkey and ham sandwiches, applesauce and a unique green bean dish that Jan Tappa insisted this reporter taste-test because of its distinctive flavor. She and her helpers prepared lunch as the participants sang praise music in another section of the parish hall.
In reflecting on the day, Kilburg said, “They (adults with disabilities) need a spiritual weekend as much as we do. The volunteers think when they sign up that it’s a weekend to help adults with disabilities, but it’s a spiritual weekend for them as much as it is for the adults with disabilities.”