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Learn about a training program that prepares compassionate listeners for many unique ministry settings.

The Bridge Builders for a Thriving Mission Initiative is providing training for lay people in pastoral care—at no cost to ACCs in the St. Cloud Diocese. Companioning one another spiritually is one of the most important ministries of a faith community. The vision of this project is to equip teams of compassionate listeners who are steeped in Benedictine spirituality. Participants who complete the process will be well prepared to offer pastoral care in various settings, form prayerful caregiver communities within their ACCs, and lovingly practice being a non-judgmental listening presence to whomever they encounter in daily life. Bridge Builders is partnering with the Community of Hope International organization, which provides a robust curriculum in three languages: English, French and Spanish.

Register for the Training

Already NINE Area Catholic Communities are represented, plus TWO Lutheran parishes, and TWO other Catholic parishes from the Archdiocese!


Bridge-Builders for a Thriving Mission will be starting two cohorts for Training Lay Pastoral Caregivers in the New Year. The first cohort begins the weekend of February 9 and 10, and the second cohort begins the weekend of February 16 and 17. Choose one. These cohorts will gather again in April to complete the training. This training is offered at no cost to participants. Overnight accommodations are available. Register for the training itself at

The training sessions will be coordinated by Sam Rahberg and Barbara Sutton.

Download Brochures

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Lenten and Easter Series with author and presenter Anne Kertz Kernion. This 3-part Zoom series, plus in-person retreat is funded by Bridge Builders for a Thriving Mission. Download the flyer to share.

Spiritual Practices for the Brain
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cover image of the book Spiritual Practices for the Brain

 A.   February 29, 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm on ZOOM

Prayer Practice: Taking A Breath, Paying Attention

"The Breath of the Almighty gives me life." ~ Job 33:4

"Prayer is the breathing of the soul." ~ St. John of Kronstadt

We will discover some simple breath-prayer practices that can bring balance, joy, and yes, even peace, to our daily lives. Drawing on inspiration from Catholic saints and our tradition, plus the latest in brain research, we'll see how pausing to notice our breathing can connect us with God's presence throughout our days, manage stress and burnout, increase our focus and concentration, and live in the here and now. We will experience a few of these practices along the way, and learn how they nurture our spirits, our bodies, and our brains.

B.    March 7: 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm on ZOOM

Prayer Practice: Gratitude

"The thankful person is the one for whom life is simply one long exercise in the sacred."

~ Sr. Joan Chittister, OSB

A life of gratitude is a life of joy. Our habits, choices and daily practices work together to benefit our physical, psychological and spiritual health. We explore the simple, effective ways to keep gratitude at the forefront of our awareness, thereby bringing the blessings of gratefulness to ourselves and others. The latest neuroscience research on the benefits of gratitude will be included.

C.    March 14: 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm on ZOOM

Prayer Practice: Kindness and Empathy

"Be gentle and patient with others, for we all have our own struggles and weaknesses."

~ St. Benedict

Our words and actions have a more powerful impact on others than we would ever predict. How does practicing empathy and kindness build community, boost our physical and mental health, and foster joy in ourselves and others? What are some simple ways to incorporate these qualities into our daily lives? Our workshop will include a multimedia presentation reviewing the latest neuroscience and psychology research on empathy and kindness.

D.   April 6: 9:30 am to 3:30 pm - face to face

Neuroscience and Well-Being: How Spirituality Affects Our Health

A Retreat Day at Saint John’s University, Collegeville, MN

“Take time to celebrate the quiet miracles that seek no attention.” ~John O’Donohue

During this retreat, we explore several spiritual practices that nurture our physical, emotional and cognitive health. Recent findings in neuroscience show how these practices slow aging in our cells, keep our brains healthy and nimble, reduce stress, and bring more health, happiness and compassion into our lives. We will take time to experience these practices first-hand. A creative activity will also be included, along with time for small group discussion, as we gently tend to our spirits.

photo of Anne Kertz Kernion

About Our Presenter

Anne Kertz Kernion is the author of two books: Spiritual Practices for the Brain: Caring for Mind, Body and Soul (2020) and A Year of Spiritual Companionship (2016). She holds a BS in Environmental Engineering, Penn State University, an MA in Theology, Duquesne University, a Certificate in the Science of Happiness, University of California, Berkeley, and a Graduate certificate in Positive Psychology, University of Missouri, 2020.

Along with intellectual abilities, Anne is also an artist.  Anne is the owner/artist of Cards by Anne, an inspirational greeting card company founded in 1986. Anne's cards, hand-designed in calligraphy and ink, are available online ( Her recent book, “Spiritual Practices for the Brain: Caring for Mind, Body and Soul," was published by Loyola Press in late 2020 and has won numerous awards for the integration of health and spirituality. Her first book, "A Year of Spiritual Companionship" was published by SkyLight Paths in 2016. Currently, Anne is a frequent lecturer and retreat leader, presenting topics that combine neuroscience, positive psychology, and spirituality to groups across the US and Australia. She and her husband Jack have 3 grown children and 6 grandchildren.


For more information, contact Barbara Sutton, Director, Bridge Builders for a Thriving Mission at



By Tamara Moore, Spiritual Director and Supervisor

Ancient Christians practiced "manifesting thoughts" to a wise elder. This mean sharing as honestly as possible what a person was thinking or feeling inside. Through the process of accompaniment, spiritual teachers helped people find deeper truth and freedom. The principles and the practice remain valuable today, as we learn from spiritual director Tamara Moor.

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