The St. Philip Institute of Catechesis and Evangelization in the Diocese of Tyler hosted its first Women’s Retreat on the feast of the Annunciation of the Lord on March 25, 2023. More than 85 women from across the Diocese of Tyler attended.

“The retreat originally began as an idea that Sister Josephine Garrett and I tossed around early last year,” Deanna Johnston, director of family life in the Diocese of Tyler, explained. “We considered doing a retreat for moms only, but as we continued to discern the event, we realized that we needed to expand this beyond one vocation and open it up to all of the women in our diocese. When single women, married women, and mothers connect for an experience like this, it creates a unique opportunity for fellowship and community, and it ultimately benefits the entire Church.”

The retreat was held at the Glass Recreation Center in Tyler and featured a day full of talks, praise and worship music, group sharing, confessions, and a time for prayer in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. 

Three talks were given throughout the day, each one focusing in different ways on the tremendous love that God the Father has for his daughters. The speaker line-up included words of wisdom from Chika Anyanwu, an evangelist and speaker, Deanna Johnston, and Sister Josephine Garrett, CSFN. Jackie Angel served as the music and worship leader for the day. 

“The Women’s Retreat was a great opportunity to step away for a bit to focus on my spiritual life and spend the day with other women in a relaxed environment,” Amanda Van Der Linden from Whitehouse said. “When I saw the line-up of retreat speakers on the flier, I knew I had to go!”

“Something this retreat helped me acknowledge is that pretty much all of my sins and the faults that frustrate me all have their origin in my insecurity: that I am not confident; that I am worthwhile or loved as I am,” Morgan Trojacek from Canton explained. “Hearing yet again of the Father’s love of me through the unique testimonies of other women gave me the grace of better understanding myself and meditating on concrete things I can do moving forward.”

Door prizes added to the excitement for the day, with special gifts from many different organizations that sponsored the retreat. The grand prize included the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Ascension Edition, donated by Ascension Press; and the Great Adventure Catholic Bible. Each participant also received a free three-month trial for Hallow, an app for Catholic prayer and meditation.

“There were so many blessings and beautiful moments that happened during the retreat,” Johnston said. “The entire day was an opportunity for nearly 100 women to encounter Christ through truth, beauty, and goodness. My hope is that we can continue to offer diocesan ministries like this for women and men, and that we can encourage local parish communities to do the same.”

The next Women’s Retreat will be on March 23, 2024. To sign up for notifications about the next retreat, visit

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