Two Catholic sisters with two amazing stories hope to enlighten and inspire “busy people” in the heart of Kansas.
PRAYER TOWN, TX — As a teenager, like many of her peers, Jenica Thornby struggled with some of the most basic questions concerning human life, including what life was about, who she was, and what she was living for. She had a daily high school routine – without fail, she spent her lunch hour studying in the library. One day in late April, however, she was overwhelmed with a strangely intense intuition to forego her daily visit to the library and instead, leave campus. Little did she know that strong intuition would change her life forever.
She was a 16 year old sophomore at Columbine High School on April 20th, 1999, the day two of her schoolmates opened fire killing 12 students, one teacher, and wounding 23 others. Jenica narrowly escaped being in the library, the center of the tragedy, by trusting that inner prompting that urged her to leave school that day, only minutes before the shooting.
“What made me leave school that day? I always went to the library,” Jenica wondered. “I remembered being told, ‘God must have a plan for your life!’”
But for Jenica, the journey to conversion wasn’t easy. There’s much more to the story.
At the invitation of former state representative, J. Basil Dannebohm, Sister Mary Gianna will bring her incredible story to Salina, Kansas.
Who’s Sister Mary Gianna?
She’s Jenica Thornby, the girl at Columbine High School, who was searching for purpose and meaning in her life. She found that purpose and meaning and joined a congregation of sisters known as The Disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Accompanying Sister Mary Gianna on her visit to Kansas will be Sister Elizabeth Ann, the community’s Mission Advancement Director. She, too, brings an inspiring testimonial and an superb musical talent.
The sisters will serve as retreat directors for Dannebohm’s “busy person’s retreat,” held on February 10th, as Western Christendom prepares for the Lenten season. The 3 hour retreat, takes place from 9am to 1pm at the Dannebohm residence and is an opportunity for participants on a limited schedule to enjoy the spiritual benefits of a retreat. Participants join in prayer, listen to moving testimonials, receive practical guidance, and conclude the experience with a luncheon. Those seeking one-on-one spiritual direction will have the opportunity to visit with Sister Elizabeth Ann after lunch. The retreat is Christian in nature, Catholic in tradition, and open to all denominations, indeed, all individuals searching for meaning in life. There is no charge to attend, however, reservations are required.
The theme for this year’s retreat is, “rebirth.” Both Sister Mary Gianna and Sister Elizabeth Ann will share personal accounts of the “rebirth” they experienced, finding purpose and peace when they opened their hearts and minds to God’s Will. They aim to provide participants with practical advice for finding peace, and experiencing a closer relationship with God in an incredibly busy and broken world.
A native Texan, Sister Elizabeth Ann grew up in a broken home. Her grandmother, who raised her Protestant, taught her to find peace and joy in the midst of suffering by having a strong relationship with the Lord. She found that joy especially through music, which she pursued as a career as a professional double bass player and orchestra director.
One day at the post office, she met Sister Rita, a member of the Disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, and a beautiful friendship emerged. In 2002 Sister Elizabeth Ann entered the Catholic Church. Two years later she discovered her vocational call and joined the Disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.
“Eventually my desire for worldly things diminished and my sole desire became to be closer to the Lord,” Sister Elizabeth Ann recalled. “Then I read in a book ‘sometimes we don’t know our vocation until we meet
the person or the people we are supposed to spend the rest of our life with.’ I found the people then discerned my vocation.”
The Disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ are a Franciscan contemplative community of women with evangelistic apostolates. The sisters seek to follow in the footsteps of Jesus the Lord through the profession of the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. They also make a promise of fellowship in the Spirit with all members of the institute. Since its inception, Mother John Marie founded the institute in the charismatic tradition. They follow the rule of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis of Assisi and their own constitutions. Like Saint Francis, the sisters find a rhythm in their own lives from intense prayer to evangelistic outreach and back to prayer again. They minister to the spiritual needs of people of all ages world-wide through retreats, vacation bible schools, door to door evangelization, parish missions, foreign missions, prayer ministry, spiritual direction and ministry to charismatic prayer groups.
Since leaving office, Dannebohm has distanced himself from politics entirely. Dismayed by the ever increasing, intense division partisan politics has caused in government, religion, and the private sector, he focuses his attention on promoting understanding through dialogue. He hosts several events throughout the year, drawing impressive crowds that include live bands and an impressive array of special guests and speakers, who share Dannebohm’s vision.
“One can’t help but notice the uptick of hatred and division that seems to be taking a grip on our world. I’m not certain why it exists. I think part of the problem is that the internet made some people comfortable hiding behind a vague username, degrading one another,” said Dannebohm. “Over the past few years, that has evolved into a deranged sense of confidence and a delusion that it’s somehow okay to take an agenda of hatred and falsehoods to the streets – sometimes literally. A lot of people wonder how this increase in hatred happened, I’m more concerned with doing my small part to ensure it ceases. At this, and every other event hosted at the Dannebohm residence, all are equal, all are loved, all are friends. At these gatherings, our differences are set aside and our humanity is celebrated.”
To register to attend or for more information about the annual Lenten “busy person’s” retreat, email: mail at dannebohm dot com.