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Caring Enough to Care for Ourselves!

Caring Enough To Care For Ourselves!

In their 2018 Team Talk, “Freedom and the Common Good,” BVM leadership asked sisters and associates to consider the following questions:

What do we, who have vowed to live in and for the common good, have to say about taking care of ourselves, one another, and the place we might find ourselves in today?

What does this have to do with our core value of freedom which calls us to grow into the best version of ourselves?”

This is the first of three reflections that will explore these questions.

How do I care for myself?

by Irene Lukefahr, BVM

Healthy eating, regular exercise, and getting enough sleep are all important to me. However, grounding myself in prayer each morning proves to be the best way of caring for myself. When I entered the BVM community in 1961, our prayer life was mainly communal prayer where everyone prayed the same prayers at the same time. During Vatican II, BVMs were encouraged to explore new prayer forms that were also Spirit-filled, but more suited to various spirituality forms. This new freedom also called for personal responsibility for one’s prayer life.

My prayer life has changed and deepened since those first years in community. My morning prayer, which usually lasts about an hour, includes two cups of coffee, Tai Chi, Scripture, contemplative prayer, journaling, and spiritual reading. Most days I join our Mount Carmel community in Dubuque, Iowa, for Mass. In the evening I try to spend about 20 minutes reflecting, journaling, and reading the Scriptures for the next day. By then I am ready for a good night’s sleep!

Recently a BVM friend suggested that when I get up in the middle of the night, I try to connect my breath with the Divine Breath of God before falling back to sleep. I believe prayer grounds me in God’s loving embrace and helps me to focus my actions and remain peaceful and joyful throughout the day. Knowing I am loved by God helps me to love others and to be my best self for others.

For the past five years, I have been fortunate to minister to our retired sisters at Mount Carmel, where I also interact daily with our dedicated lay staff. I am surrounded by the goodness and love of the sisters and staff, as well as the beauty of our home. Each day brings expressed gratitude, loving prayers and support, and a gentle reminder to “go home.” Living and working in these peaceful and loving environments provide a firm foundation for caring for myself.

As much as I enjoy my ministry, I am looking forward to retiring in August 2019. At 75, my energy level is not what it used to be! I hope to take care of myself by resting, spending time with family members, making a long retreat, and enjoying the beauty of God’s creation. I hope to return to Mount Carmel as a volunteer.

Whether you’re a parent, teacher, doctor, or someone who is called to help others, we all need time to care for ourselves. This helps us to be our best selves. We need to ask the question,

How can taking care of ourselves help us care for others and for the places we find ourselves?”

About the Author: Irene Lukefahr, BVM is a BVM life facilitator at Mount Carmel in Dubuque, Iowa.

Featured image: Pine Walk Photo by Marie Agnes Keena, BVM

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This story was featured in:

Winter SALT 2019: Into the World with Love
When BVMs Teri Hadro and Kate Hendel visited the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Vietnam, they brought with them 185 years of rich BVM heritage and a message of friendship that echoed the words of BVM Foundress Mary Frances Clarke, “Where one BVM is, all BVMs are.” In this issue, discover ways the BVM Legacy of Love continues to grow throughout the world.

If you would like to receive Salt, contact the Office of Development for a complimentary subscription at or 563-585-2864.

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