By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — Patrons and others who dine on Sundays and holidays at Father Conroy’s Vineyard of Hope participated in a weekday mini-retreat titled “God’s Infinite Love for All of Us.”
Sister Ludmilla Benda, RSM, who serves the hungry at Father Conroy’s, said the retreats are nice to have and draw a good crowd.
She asked the gathering of more than 60 people at the July 29 retreat to imagine being on a beach in Florida. Father Brian Miclot, a philosophy professor at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, led the retreat.
He told the crowd how he used to walk on Second and Third streets in downtown Davenport with the late Trula Godwin, a police officer who had a big impact on him. He said she was fair to those she encountered on the job and that breast cancer took her too soon.
Fr. Miclot said it takes all kinds (of people) to make a society. God gives us seasons, the priest said, to go over things and to even us out. God goes on forever.
After singing “Amazing Grace” and listening to a reading from Ecclesiastes, the group sang “Turn!, Turn!, Turn!” and listened to a reading from Luke’s Gospel.
“How many of you know lazy people?” Fr. Miclot asked. Hands went up. “How many know great workers?” Some hands went up. He then asked if anyone knew how to take time to “shut up and listen.”
In the Gospel reading Martha provided the hospitality and did all the work, Fr. Miclot said. “Mary was just sitting there. Who’s doing the work here?” He pointed out that Mary had an ear to listen and was not distracted. The Gospel does not say Martha was bad. “It takes all kinds of people to make up the kingdom of God. We need to hear others out.”
After Trula’s death, her family gave Fr. Miclot a painting she had done. It depicted Jesus on the ground with one hand unfinished and one shoe lying off to the side. The unfinished hand was Trula’s way of showing that Jesus still had work to do. As for the lone shoe, Trula had told Fr. Miclot about finding a single shoe while walking her beat here and there. She always wondered about the shoe’s owner and that individual’s story. The title of the painting is “Shoe in the Street.” “We need to find out what is missing in our lives,” Fr. Miclot said. “It takes all kinds of people: some doers, some listeners. It takes all kinds of seasons to grow.”
After obtaining permission, Fr. Miclot attended a police officers’ patrol shift briefing and then took a ride in Trula’s squad car. “Most of the work is boredom, but you need to be ready,” Trula told him. That day they were “going hot,” meaning use of lights and sirens.
They arrived at Centennial Bridge, which connects Davenport with Rock Island, Ill. A 17-year-old male had jumped off the bridge.
Paramedics were on the scene and wrapped up the young man. “Is there anything I can do?” Fr. Miclot asked. They told him to go to the hospital the next day as the youth had survived.
The priest went to the hospital and met with the social worker, girlfriend and young man and asked what had happened. “Things got down,” he was told. The young man said when he hit the water alive he knew there was more life to live. He swam to shore.
Fr. Miclot closed the retreat talking about Saint Teresa of Calcutta. On her bedroom wall was a poem she wrote titled “Do It Anyway.” It encourages people to forgive, succeed, to be honest, creative and happy and to give their best.
Following the retreat, attendee Christina Keeton said Fr. Miclot’s talk offered encouraging words. “We are all God’s children. I see many of you once or twice a week. We are all we have – each other. God is good.”