“What Happened When 9 Women Joined Together To Look Immortality In The Face?” article by Grace Stark, Aleteia

Article by Aleteia writer Grace Stark: What happened when 9 women joined together to look immortality in the face

“A Catholic retreat in Colorado is helping women healing from cancer a chance to reflect on the deeper realities of life and death.”

We were privileged to receive the attention of Grace Stark, writer with Aleteia Magazine, an inspiring Catholic journal that covers news, culture, spirituality and the Catholic lifestyle.  Grace had contacted us prior to the retreat but we did not want to alter the experience for the retreatants in any way by telling them that someone may want to interview them about the retreat.  It was our first major retreat in Colorado and it was important that the experiences be pure.

After the retreat Grace provided us with a survey, which was sent to the retreatants.  Grace took time to interview Sr. Anne Marie Walsh and I about the retreat and from the surveys and interviews, Grace has put together an inspiring story about what we all encountered in Christ at Mother Cabrini Shrine.

Please take a moment to read her article about our retreat.  We are currently scheduling the next retreat for men and firming up the local cancer support group in Denver, Colorado.  Peace and Blessings to you all.

Denise Archuleta










In Memory of Sr. Lucina

Sister Maria Lucina (Melinda Shellenbarger) – January 17, 1957 – June 23, 2018

Eulogy Sr. Lucina by Sr. Anne Marie Walsh, SOLT

On behalf of Sr Marie Hesed, Sr. Mary Bethany and myself, and all the Sisters of Our Lady, I would first of all like to thank the Most Holy Trinity and Our Lady for the privilege of accompanying Sr. Maria Lucina in these last months of her life. None of us, including Sr Lucina, knew that when she came to us in September. But coming here to Iowa was a part of God’s plan for her at the end of her life.

I want also to thank the wonderful priests here who attended Sister especially in her last days. Fr. Kevin, Fr. Broderson, Fr. Schneider. (came immediately…Fr. Broderson…)     Dr. Tina…

Every person’s life tells a story and Sister’s life was no exception. Sister’s life was part drama, part mystery, part unfolding plan or dream of God in her life…but all gift of God’s love.  She knew that her life was part of the greater story of Jesus’s life, which revolved entirely around the love of the Father, and the drama of salvation and restoring us in our relationship with the Father so that we could be one family of our Father.

Shortly before she died Sr. Lucina one night said that all she’s ever really wanted is to be loved and to love.  You may think that sounds like a needy thing to say. However, if you are in touch with the deepest desires of your heart, as she was, that’s what you come to discover: Pope St. JPII says we cannot even know ourselves unless love is revealed to us from the outside. We need to experience love or we remain a mystery to ourselves. And once we do, then we’re able to go outside ourselves and love others in the same way. Sister certainly knew great love from her family…she had such deep love for her Mom, Dad her sister and brothers. I’ll never forget how she lit up when her brothers arrived at two in the morning… The night she was waiting for her brothers to arrive, Sister suddenly sat up and reached out in awe.  I asked her what she was seeing.  She said:  “angels!  They are so beautiful!” I said we wished we could see them too but to ask those angels to get her family here first.  And they did.  And then I reminded Sister that soon she would see pure beauty face-to-face.

Sister had this experience of love in a very special with Lindsay. Nothing more powerful than the mother-child bond. Extremely moving.

She had this love from Fr. Pinto and the DJMs. She had it in her SOLT communities and especially with the Sisters she went through formation with… And she had it in a special way here in Iowa.  Iowa was very healing to her. She said several times as she was getting closer: I’ve never been in a community like this before. They so quickly take you to themselves and just love you. And when she said she wanted to be buried where she would be remembered and prayed for, we knew Willey was the place for that. Sister was very happy at the thought of being here.

Something Pope Francis says reminds me very much of Sister: “Jesus became man so that man, made inwardly deaf and dumb by sin, would become able to hear the voice of God, the voice of love speaking to his heart, and so he would learn to speak in the language of love, to communicate with God and with others”.  

That was a life work of Sister’s.  Looking for and living out of God’s love and being able to communicate that to others.  It wasn’t always easy for her to do this. Most of us can say the same.  But she knew ultimately our lives are about love. In the evening of life we will be judged on love, says St. John of the Cross.  

Initially the treatments seemed to really work.  Her numbers plummeted by 600 points and she felt we were headed in the right direction.  But then complications set in to such a degree that Sister wasn’t able to get any traction and her numbers remained the same while some of her symptoms got much worse.

Because I knew Sister at a spiritual level I suspected something else might be happening and so I asked her if she had ever made an offering of herself for someone specifically.  In religious life we all make an offering of our lives when we profess vows.  We give ourselves to Christ and His Church in a complete self-offering of love.  And Jesus then has complete freedom to do with us what He wants, which is always good and always from love. 

But sometimes people also feel inspired to make an offering of themselves for someone or something specific.  Out of Love.  Because they are coming to love as Jesus loves.  I asked Sister if she had done this.  At first she said no, and then she said, “ yes, I have.”

Sr. Lucina said that she had re-offered her life very specifically in sacrifice to God because she had had a full life. When making this new offering with specific people in mind especially that she loved, she didn’t know how God would use it. Would He simply ask her fight the battle of disease and then He would heal her or would He want her to lay down her life completely as Jesus did for us, knowing her suffering and death in union with Him would produce eternal fruits especially in the lives of those she loved.

In the meantime, she fought, all the while believing in what she was doing.  But once she realized that God was not going to heal her, she surrendered to that in order to comply with His will.  Sister was aware that there had always been only 3 possible outcomes:  God would heal her through conventional and/or alternative means.  He would heal her miraculously.  Or He would take her home to Himself.  

In all three instances she would win.  And she knew ultimately that the third instance was the best.  Because no matter what healing we get here, it’s always temporary.  Lazarus had to die again as did the little girl and the widow’s son whom Jesus raised from the dead so that they could be fitted for the final healing at the end of the world with a resurrected body like Christ’s body in Resurrection.  We both used to make jokes about holding out for the glorified body, especially when going through illness and the effects of aging.

In the end, Sister came to the fullness of a kind of love which made her like Jesus, when she made the offering of her life for one she loved.  Her last week went fast.  It almost seemed unreal. She went into the hospital on Monday, with the news that her treatment was no longer working and the cancer was gaining ground quickly.  By Saturday, after waiting for her daughter, and the rest of her family to arrive, she was ready to go home.  As we chanted morning prayer from the common of the Blessed Virgin Mary, she went home with Our Lady during the chanting of her favorite psalm:  117 which is also her birthdate and which God used many times in her life when making important discernments.  

Many things in Sister’s life are a mystery, and were to Sister herself. But in the light of eternity everything will be revealed. The drama of Faith, that was played out in Sister’s life will be recorded in the Book of Life and with those of all other faithful souls, will be read in heaven over and over again to the delight of its citizens. Everyone has an important part to play in the grand story that ends in the triumphant victories of Christ and the communion of God with man for all eternity. Sister has played her role out in time. We count on her continuing now to help us from heaven.

We love her and we’re going to miss her but she is home now in the arms of the greatest love and the real love she sought throughout her lifeWe thank God for the gift of her life and for her witness to the kind of self-sacrificing love that made her like Jesus in the end.



Joyful Hearts By Retreat’s Closing

This is the group of wonderful women who participated in this weekend’s Facing Our Immortality Retreat in Golden, CO. It was a retreat for women with cancer and was really incredible. These women are amazing. Many of them are dealing with 4th stage cancers but they have such strength and endurance and faith, and on this particular retreat, were given a special gift of joy after Fr. Joseph Tran came to hear Confessions and do the Anointing of the Sick. Fr. is pure joy himself as you can see in the picture. Sr. Hesed also participated with us in her first retreat of this type and was wonderful as well. The retreat is really powerful on so many different levels. We are hoping to get more response here in Iowa as there is nothing on this level offered anywhere else.  Watch for an article in Aleteia on this particular retreat coming up soon.



Cancer Retreat, Updates

Thank you Fr. Brian and Denver Catholic

I wanted to take a special moment to thank Fr. Brian Larkin of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Denver Colorado for his immense support of this upcoming retreat.  He approved our retreat notification in the parish bulletin and has been instrumental in facilitating the support of the parish staff to enable me to reach out to parish members and announce this retreat.  His efforts will allow a woman with breast cancer to attend and have also brought to us future volunteers. Here is a link to Our Lady of Lourdes.

I also needed to thank Aaron Lambert of Denver Catholic for taking time to interview Sr. Anne Marie Walsh of SOLT and I about our upcoming retreat.  It is a little overwhelming, in a good way, to see such a positive and welcoming response from people in the Catholic media.  There truly is a strong need for us to provide for the spiritual needs of not only cancer patients, but their spouses and caregivers as well.  Here is a link to their article.  http://denvercatholic.org/retreat-to-help-cancer-afflicted-face-their-immortality/.

If you have the resources, please help us to offset some of the expenses for the retreatants.  Some are on disability and any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated.  We currently do not have a sponsor, but please pray that for future retreats we can receive the assistance of a benefactor who believes in this cause. In the mean time, if you can contribute any amount ($10, $20, $50 or more) we would be greatly appreciative.  Sr. Anne Marie and another sister will be driving from Iowa. We are not profiting from this retreat.  The $150 retreat fee is for Mother Cabrini Shrine. Their beautiful retreat center offers private room/bath and all meals so that the retreatants can enjoy their experience to the fullest.

To contribute, please click on: Facing Our Immortality Go Fund Me retreat link

Peace and Blessings,

Denise Archuleta

Cancer Retreat

Join us June 1-3, 2018 at Mother Cabrini Shrine located in Golden, Colorado

Facin Our Immortality Retreat(2)

We are truly blessed to be able to bring this beautiful retreat to Mother Cabrini Shrine in Golden, Colorado.  If you are suffering spiritually and have internal conflict related to the abrupt changes in your life, brought on by your cancer, we can help bring you peace.

This retreat incorporates a healing mass, spiritual exercises from St. Ignatius of Loyola and healing workshops to bring you closer to Our Lord Jesus Christ.  We will offer group conversation but also important time in silence and prayer so that you can experience the full benefits of this retreat.  There is only room for 10 people so please register as soon as possible.

The main themes presented during the retreat are the following:

Facing Our Immortality

God’s Dream (Plan) for Your Life

Paschal Mystery and Spiritual Warfare

Lessons from Heaven-Trusting the Father.

Cancer is a frightening diagnosis but the reassurance that God is with us always, and even more so in suffering and uncertainty, helps us move through with trust and dependence on Him for all we need.  

The retreat is Catholic, with the Mass and sacraments available.  But we are open to any who feel led by God to attend. The retreats sometimes draw people who are not Catholic. In fact, one of our former attendees is Baptist and is now praying the Rosary because she “discovered her Mother, Our Lady” on the retreat simply by listening to us pray.

Cost is $75 per night, room and meals are included.


Please fill out the form below or contact:

Denise Archuleta, Colorado resident, at 206-779-0691

To learn more about Sr. Anne Marie Walsh, S.O.L.T. click here to Domus Trinitatis.

“Always stay close to this Heavenly Mother, because she is the sea to be crossed to reach the shores of Eternal Splendour.”
–Saint Padre Pio, 1887-1968 AD

Facebook Event Link:Mother Cabrini Shrine Event



St. Peregrine, the Patron Saint of Cancer, Feast Day May 1.

Dear Ladies,

I came across a YouTube video on the history of St. Peregrine while searching for a helpful video to share with you all.  I feel like I have a relationship with this Saint, the Patron Saint of Cancer and those who are seriously ill.  I prayed for his intercession regularly during the course of my ovarian cancer and requested his help to prevent my sister from having ovarian cancer.  I did not know that his Feast Day is May 1 until I watched the YouTube video.

He was on my mind most of the day today. There is a feeling within that I have not spoken of him with due frequency.  Sharing his Feast Day with you now reaffirms to me that he looks after us, those of us who are very sick.

All I can say is that my true witness comes from this situation when I was praying for my sister.  She and I carry the same mutation, BRCA1. Several years ago she was having abdominal problems that sounded like ovarian cancer, and or primary peritoneal cancer.  I prayed for days on end to St.Peregrine for I love my sister so much, she has 2 girls and she and her husband had adopted them from China.  She suffered greatly also from Celiac disease.

My sister met me in the hospital while I was having an infusion to tell me the results of her CT scan, and it was negative, Praise God.  I was so joyful and she was greatly relieved, smiling widely from ear to ear.  As we got into the elevator a doctor followed us.  As he was stepping into the elevator a nurse called out to him that he had a message, and he acknowledged that he would check it when he got to his office.  She called out to him as Dr. Peregrine.  I took notice immediately.

Once the elevator door closed, he looked into my eyes in a way that I felt he wanted me to notice him, he wanted me to also acknowledge “who” he was.  I did, I smiled, and that was it.  He went on his way. Please pray for the intercession of St. Peregrine and follow the videos below.  The prayer video is especially helpful.

We have lost two dear friends, Karen Saldate and Maria del Rosario Hernandez.  As we pray for their souls and for their families let us be reminded of the light and love they offered during our retreat last year.  Their stories of kindness, family, hope and love for Jesus and Our Blessed Mother remain.

A very special thanks must go to Sr. Anne Marie Walsh as she was directly involved with their care, especially with Karen.  Sr. Anne has been such a blessing, responding to our calls without hesitation or reservation.  Thank you Sr. Anne Marie for your kind and loving prayers and care.

God is my light, my guide, my love.

May Karen and Maria Rest In Peace.

The History of St. Peregrine

Prayer to St. Peregrine

Peace and Blessings from Denise Archuleta