One of the retreat participants has a one-on-one talk with a religious sister. FIAT MINISTRIES INC.

Encountering Jesus

Forty-three women open their hearts, lives to God at weekend retreat

Forty-three young women went into a Sept. 1-3 retreat eager to learn God’s will for their lives – eager to say yes to Him, as the Blessed Virgin Mary did in her Fiat, her consent to be the Mother of God.

The women spent the weekend at a Fiat Discernment Retreat at the Immaculata Monastery & Spirituality Center in Norfolk, where they prayed, worshiped and listened to talks, all designed to help them give God “their wholehearted yes” to whatever vocation He has planned for them.

“It was beautiful to see just all of their open hearts to want to know, to want to be in relationship with Our Heavenly Father and to do His will,” said Emily Savage, foundress of Fiat Ministries of Wichita, Kansas, which organized the retreat.

Fiat retreats, for single women ages 18 to 30, seek “to foster prayer, self-knowledge, and authentic discernment in young Catholic women through a true relationship with Jesus Christ,” according to the organization’s website.

Fiat Ministries has held retreats in other parts of the country over the past 10 years, but the one in Norfolk, at the monastery of the Missionary Benedictine Sisters, was a first for the Archdiocese of Omaha.

Twelve religious sisters from five different congregations helped at the retreat and offered insights into religious life. But the retreat was to help participants discern whatever vocation they might be called to.

Father Scott Schilmoeller, vocations director for the archdiocese, and members of five religious communities helped at the retreat, including members of the Sister Servants of the Eternal Word, based in Alabama, Marian Sisters of the Diocese of Lincoln, School Sisters of Christ the King of the Diocese of Lincoln, Missionary Benedictine Sisters of Norfolk and the Little Sisters of the Poor in Chicago. FIAT MINISTRIES INC.

“It’s cool how this retreat serves each woman, no matter where they’re at or where they think they’re at,” Savage said.

The retreat began Friday evening with check-in at 6:30 and ended Sunday afternoon at 2.

Father Scott Schilmoeller, archdiocese vocations director, was there throughout the event and offered Masses and Holy Hours of Eucharistic adoration each day. Participants also prayed the Liturgy of Hours with the religious sisters.

“There was a lot of prayer,” Savage said, including a walking Rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet sung by one of the sisters. Talks were about femininity, prayer, mercy and more.

During mealtimes, sisters from each religious order shared their vocation stories. 

Other young women interested in participating in an upcoming Fiat retreat can go to to find a nearby retreat.

Over the last 10 years, the organization has held 21 discernment retreats for nearly  700 women, said Savage, who leads the ministry from her living room in Wichita.

“We’re all called to holiness,” she said, and the retreats are “for any single woman who wants to grow in holiness.”

“I feel like that’s one step to changing the world.”


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