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Breakout Sessions

Participants will attend 4 breakout sessions throughout the afternoon.

I. Til Death Do Us Part: Mercy in Marriage

Pattie Rioux

Upon entering into the covenant of marriage, a promise is made to love one another “in  sickness and in health, until death do us part,” but how many have experienced the mercy that’s required— and comes with— caring for a terminally ill spouse? Pattie Rioux has. This breakout session will focus on Pattie’s experience tirelessly caring for her beloved husband Jay when he was diagnosed with brain cancer in 1986, continuing through his diagnosis of dementia in 2004, until his death in 2014.

Married for 46 years, Pattie and Jay were blessed with 4 kids and 10 grandkids. She has worked at Holy Family Parish in East Tawas since 1990, where she currently serves as the Director of Faith Formation and Liturgy Coordinator, and is also a member of the diocesan staff as a Field Representative, serving the North Vicariate/Region. 

II. Hope is Not Lost: Finding Mercy in Maiduguri

Fr. Polycarp Mblarawa

In 2009,  Islamic extremist group Boko Haram began a campaign of violence against the government of Nigeria.  Armed with radical ideology and violence, Boko Haram has disrupted life with consistent attacks throughout the region, and is responsible for over 20,000 deaths and displacing more than 2 million Nigerians. Yet the Catholic Diocese of Maiduguri, led by Bishop Oliver Dashe Doeme, remains hopeful despite the destruction of parishes and violence that surrounds them. This breakout session will focus on not only the mercy shown to Maiduguri, but the hope for the future and mercy extended to us by our brothers and sisters in Christ in Maiduguri.

Fr. Polycarp Mblarawa is a priest of the Diocese of Maiduguri who has been serving in the Diocese of Gaylord since 2011. Currently, he is the Parochial Vicar at All Saints Parish in Alpena.

III. Answering the Call: Ministering to the Imprisoned

Sr. Augusta Stratz, RSM

The United States has the second-highest per-capita incarceration rate in the world. With this rate being so high, it is not surprising that the U.S. has yet to implement a successful rehabilitation program. Enter Sr. Augusta Stratz, a Sister of Mercy whose work with incarcerated women led her to create an ‘Enrichment Program’ that was so effective that the Department of Corrections for the State of Michigan has not only funded it, but awards inmates who complete the program 15 days off their sentence. This breakout session will focus on how the faithful can minister to those who are incarcerated.

Sr. Augusta Stratz, RSM,  has been a Sister of Mercy for 65 years. She holds a Masters of Social Work from Western Michigan University, a Masters of Public Administration from Central Michigan University, and a Master of Arts in Education from Eastern Michigan University. Currently, she provides mental health assessments and therapy with the US Probate Court in Grand Rapids and an Enrichment Program at the Kalkaska County Jail.

IV. Rachel’s Vineyard: Mercy After Abortion

Kristyn Lent

Begun over 20 years ago, Rachel’s Vineyard has grown to be a important healing ministry for women and men affected by abortion. Weekend retreats are held throughout the country, including the Diocese of Gaylord. A Rachel's Vineyard retreat provides a safe opportunity to examine one's abortion experience, identify the ways that the loss has impacted their life in the past and present, and helps to acknowledge any unresolved feelings that many individuals struggle with after abortion. Married couples, mothers, fathers, grandparents and siblings of aborted children, as well as persons who have been involved in the abortion industry have come to Rachel's Vineyard in search of peace and inner healing. This breakout session will explore the mercy extended during these retreats.

Kristyn Lent is a native of Wisconsin but has lived in northern Michigan for the past 17 years. Along with her daughter Maya, she is an active member of St. Matthew Parish in Boyne City where she serves as a Eucharistic Minister and co-team leader of the Human Life and Dignity, Year of Mercy Ministry. Kristyn is an interior designer in Petoskey and, along with Jane O'Brien, is the diocesan coordinator for the Rachel's Vineyard ministry.