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Meet a Cenacle Auxiliary

A former Methodist who converted to Catholicism, Dr. Carolyn Jacobs is a Cenacle Auxiliary who lives in Sunderland, MA. She received her Doctorate in Social Welfare from Brandeis University, and is now the Dean of the School of Social Work at Smith College.

Dr. Jacobs first became aware of the Cenacle in 1965 at a class at the Cenacle in Carmichael, California given by Sr. Peggy Dugan. She wanted to, “make a deeper commitment to my life with God.” She also was very inspired by articles in the Cenacle Encounter magazine. When she moved to Boston, she attended the Cenacle in Brighton until it closed.

While at the Brighton Cenacle, Dr. Jacobs became a Cenacle Auxiliary, taking her final vows in 1988. She finds that she has been inspired by many Cenacle Sisters, including Sr. Sadie Nesser, Sr. Thelma Hall and Sr. Meg Byrne. Dr. Jacobs is now a member of the Emmaus Group of Cenacle Auxiliaries. The Emmaus Group consists of Cenacle Auxiliaries who do not live near a physical Cenacle location, but rather communicate with other Auxiliaries and Sisters by phone, e-mail and meetings that are held during the year. She says that, “We have a very strong community identity that transcends geography.”

Dr. Jacobs describes her life as a Cenacle Auxiliary as, “a commitment to know and love Jesus -- by being a witness, rooted in Cenacle spirituality, and a transformative presence in the world. We witness the consecrated secularity of our vocation and God uses our individual gifts as women to bring Christ’s love to all we meet.”

Comments 0 Rating: Rated 4.5 star by 1 people.
Meet a Cenacle Associate

In 1994, I was studying Theology in graduate school at the University of St Thomas [UST] in Houston at night and working long hours as a front line manager for the Internal Revenue Service Appeals Division during the day. While buying used books for my class at the start of the semester, I felt compelled to buy a new book that had nothing to do with my course of study. I wondered why.

I graduated from UST with a Master of Liberal Arts in Theology in 1996 and felt called to seek a spiritual director after catching up on six years of sleep deprivation. Having been introduced to the Houston Cenacle while an RCIA team member for St Michael Catholic Church in the 1980's, it was natural that I would seek a spiritual director from the holy halls of the Cenacle. I have been in spiritual direction for over a decade now.

In 1998, I started the discernment process to find a religious order I could become associated with. I started formation with the Congregation of the Cenacle in 1999, became a Cenacle Associate and made my first promise in 2001. God started calling me to the Spiritual Directors Institute in May of 2005 while on a religious pilgrimage in France. I had no idea what becoming a spiritual director entailed and felt way out of my comfort zone so I promptly turned down the invitation because I felt unworthy.

However, the hound of heaven is gently persistent. My thoughts kept returning to this idea, so often that I threatened to quit praying if it continued. Fortunately, I could not stop praying and SDI continued to be a recurring topic. By September of 2005, I started talking to trained lay spiritual directors whom I knew about the course of study, but never thought to ask about the application process or requirements.

I had only one weekend free in December of 2005 and it happened to be the weekend that our community center was being turned into a contemplative workshop. It was conducted by the world renowned Trappist monk ,William Meninger, who only leaves his monastery to conduct these types of workshops twice a year. This one was sponsored by and for the UST school of theology and St Mary's seminary, but slots were opened for non-students. So, I plunked down my money and was immersed in the history and practice of contemplative prayer from Friday night to Sunday afternoon. During my vacation time in December 2005 and January 2006, I settled into contemplative prayer and finally told God I would look into applying for admission to SDI.

At the end of January, I received my 1 & 1/2 inch thick application packet! There were three different multi page application forms. The longest set of forms was, of course, for me. Another set was for three individuals to recommend me to the SDI and the third was for a sponsoring community to provide a place for field work during the 3rd year. At this point, I realized I had to have a sponsoring community and provide hermetically sealed university transcripts. If all the forms were complete and I had the educational prerequisites, I would have a final interview just before selection. I was overwhelmed and discouraged. I pulled a Joan of Arc & temporarily recanted. I asked God to release me from this new ministry because I didn't have a sponsoring community since my parish had just recently lost its pastor which meant I would have no place to do field work my third year of training. I was really disappointed.

The first weekend of February 2006, I flew off to the Ronkonkoma Cenacle for a retreat weekend. There I told God that if He found me a sponsor, I would retire so I could attend SDI. I flew back to learn the news that we had a new pastor and he was real a proponent of spiritual direction. So, I earnestly started the application process in February 2006.

On May 31st, I received my letter of acceptance to SDI along with a list of three books I was to have prayerfully read before the first day of class. The last book listed was the new book I had felt compelled to buy twelve years earlier. On the 1st of September 2006, I retired from my job and started at SDI on the 8th.

I encourage everyone, after proper discernment, not to be afraid to answer God's call. There are many ministries within the Cenacle and maybe the best is yet to come as it was for me.

Comments 0 Rating: Rated 2.33 star by 3 people.
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