Jean Marie Holup, SSCM
Christ gave a farewell address at the last supper and expressed his wish “that all may be one” in the Trinity (John 17:22). The Congregation of the Sisters of Saints Cyril & Methodius boldly attests through its congregational mission statement that we “work and pray for the unity of all Christians.”
We promote cooperation and better understanding, and we strive to develop closer relationships with one another in order to unite people of different Church traditions. Our congregation’s Motherhouse has been located in a rural area of Pennsylvania in the town of Danville for 100 years. We have reached out to all 24 of the Danville Churches as we begin to celebrate this 2019 centennial milestone.
Sisters have served on ecumenical commissions and local ministerial councils, and hold memberships in groups dedicated to pastoral care and Christian ethics. We host annual prayer services for peace and unity, including “Prayer Outside the Walls” where we invite all to join us. “Prayer Outside the Walls” events are conducted regularly and can be joined virtually with us via Facebook. Beyond literally being prayed outdoors, these prayers are prayed outside the invisible walls of any kind of prejudices.
The Basilica of Saints Cyril and Methodius at Villa Sacred Heart has been the site of numerous ecumenical gatherings and is the center of life at St. Cyril Spiritual Center which is located at the Motherhouse of the Sisters in Danville, PA. Saint Cyril Spiritual Center is a sponsored ministry of the Congregation where we provide a place to refresh mind, body, and spirit. We warmly welcome people of various traditions and ages and host retreat groups including the Society of the Holy Trinity which is a group of Lutheran Pastors who come to St. Cyril’s Spiritual Center for an annual retreat.
“Tres Dias” is an inter-denominational retreat for men and women, offered twice a year for each group over the course of a weekend. The Center offers hospitality to the “Stevenson School,” which is a school for men and women who are discerning the deaconate or priesthood in the Episcopal Church. I have had the privilege as a trained Spiritual Director, to meet with some of these candidates and accompany them as they discern their vocational call on their personal spiritual journey. I had the joy of celebrating with one of my directees last spring at his consecration ceremony into the Episcopal deaconate. The Methodist women always look forward to their own retreat at the Center. All of these groups relish their time here at St. Cyril’s and remark how this holy ground provides such a wonderful inner sense of peace.
Once a month I also meet with 4 ministers from 4 different denominations. Mark Giesen is a Lutheran and ministers as a “pulpit supply person” from Trinity Lutheran Church in Danville, PA. David Mansfield is a Disciple of Christ and the Pastor at the Benton, PA, Christian Church. Betsy McCormack is a Presbyterian Pastor ministering at the First Presbyterian Church in Bloomsburg, PA. And Nancy Hardy is from the United Church of Christ and is Pastor at the First Reformed UCC Church in Berwick, PA. Each month one of these ministers prepares a “focused theme” for our “day apart” which includes a “check in” to see how everyone is currently doing, followed by a time for private reflection, prayer, and a discussion. We conclude our precious time together as we pray for the expressed needs of each other. We have truly become one in spirit as we accompany each other on the journey as faithful spiritual companions.
Sr. Jean Marie Holup, SSCM, is Director of the St. Cyril Spiritual Center in Danville, PA. More information about the Congregation of the Sisters of Saints Cyril & Methodius is available on their website: www.sscm.org