‘Gal-entine’s Day’ retreat at Ste. Anne helps women focus on finding holiness as they discern God's plan for their lives

DETROIT — Valentine’s Day focuses on sweethearts and romancing, but for those not struck by Cupid’s arrow, the day could seem sour.

But all of God’s children are called to love, and be loved, regardless of one’s Feb. 14 plans.

With Catholics called to discern one’s own vocation, waiting with prayerful patience for whatever God has in store for them, Ste. Anne Parish in Detroit is hosting a “Gal-entine’s Day’ retreat geared toward single women on Feb. 14.  

Danielle Center, program director at Ste. Anne, said the retreat focuses on women supporting other women in discerning where God is leading them in life and love, praying for solace in their discernment.

“St. Anne is the patron of several things, and one of them being women looking for good husbands,” Center told Detroit Catholic. “When we were thinking about different programming ideas, we thought about having a retreat for single women on Valentine’s Day as a way for women to feel special and loved.”

While Feb. 14 is officially the feast of SS. Cyril and Methodius on the current Roman calendar — historians are in disagreement about the deeds of the third-century Italian bishop, St. Valentine — the day is also widely recognized as a celebration of love. 

The historic southwest Detroit parish is hosting the retreat for the third year, but this year will be the first time there will be testimonials from other women about finding God’s love along with the struggles and triumphs in today’s dating scene.

“We have two amazing women who are giving reflections that will be really real and raw examples of where God has helped them,” Center said. “Fr. Patrick Gonyeau will be leading us in prayer and private Mass. We will have the relics of St. Anne here at the parish, so women can have a private prayer and veneration of the relic.”

Center said the retreat is meant to be an empowering reminder to all women that God is always in one’s life.

“Prayer is one of the incredible ways for us to tell God where we are and what we are feeling,” Center said. “Valentine’s Day has the potential of being painful. But God doesn’t want us to feel alone.”

Women who attended last year's "Gal-entine's Day" retreat stand in front of Ste. Anne Parish in southwest Detroit. The third annual retreat, said Danielle Center, program manager at Ste. Anne (third from right), is a way to help single women discern God's will for them on a day when society emphasizes being in a relationship. 

Colleen Pressprich of St. Paul on the Lake Parish in Grosse Pointe Farms is one of the presenters at the "Gal-entine’s Day" retreat. Married for five years, Pressprich said the retreat and others like it are important examples of how single Catholics can support one another whenever they are in need of support — especially in a society where love and affection are often misconstrued.

“I think it is important to build up a community where women support other women,” Pressprich said. “Particularly in a society where there is a lot of focus on love, but it is mostly from a secular standpoint. For women seeking to fulfill their vocations, it can be rather difficult. I think this is a way to honor the wholeness of these women just as they are, and to recognize and speak the truth that they are loved, they are cherished and that God does have a plan.”

Pressprich said as a married woman, she can offer encouragement and testimony on the joys and setbacks that do occur in finding a good spouse.

“I think I’m incredibly blessed in my husband,” Pressprich said. “While I didn’t date a lot before him, I dated the wrong men. I had an experience with a man who wasn’t right for me, who wasn’t calling me to holiness. Then I dated a man who checked off all the boxes that I wanted in a husband, but there was no chemistry. For me, I was blessed to be able to wait, to be patient.

“There is a quote from St. Catherine Drexel, ‘Make haste, but slowly,’” Pressprich said. “We’re preparing ourselves, getting ready, but we don’t need to be in a rush. What you want is a good husband, not just a man that you are settling for.”

More than anything, the retreat is meant to show being single doesn’t mean being alone; that the Church community is there to support all in need of solidarity and compassion.

“I think it is really important to show we’re not alone on this journey,” said Cristina Ryzyi, a parishioner at Our Lady of Good Counsel in Plymouth. “Even though we might be in a period of singleness, events like this show there are other women who are going through the same thing. Singleness can be lonely sometimes, but this shows us what we’re not alone in it, that we have the larger body of Christ to rely on; we have our sisters to rely on.”

Ryzyi added the spiritual benefit of being in a beautiful church, surrounded by loving people who know her own story and are willing to share their own, is a reminder that even the single life is a call to holiness.

“Women are particularly more willing to be open with other women, especially when they are surrounded by beauty, such as a historic church like Ste. Anne’s,” Ryzyi said. “It’s a perfect place to hold a retreat, to focus on our own femininity, which is something to celebrate. Even though we’re praying as single ladies, it is really about focusing on our mission, our vocations, our relationships with each other, and our relationship with God.”

'Gal-entine's Day' retreat at Ste. Anne de Detroit

To learn more about tonight's 'Gal-entine's Day' retreat for single women at Ste. Anne Parish, check out the event page on Facebook.