Spotlight on Associates

IHM mission in the San Jancito Mountains
Margaret Mary Leusch, IHM Associate

MMLAs I sit on my deck in the midst of the San Jacinto Mountains in Idyllwild, Calif., at 6200 feet, my mind drifts back to the beginnings of my relationship with the IHM congregation. I first met and loved the sisters as a student at Marygrove College from 1951-1955. After graduation, I entered the congregation with the support of Sister Mary Mercy, IHM, and took final vows in 1963.

After leaving vowed membership in 1967, my relationship with the community changed. Ultimately, in 2007, I made my commitment as an IHM Associate, with Sister Donna Hart, IHM, as my vowed companion. This was followed by a life-long commitment in 2015. It was the  congregation’s commitment to the Earth Charter and sustainable living that drew me.

During the years, I have supported my faith community, St Hugh Episcopal Church, as a lector, and I serve as board co-chair of Spirit Mountain Retreat (SMR) here in Idyllwild. Both these ministries have green inspired by the IHM mission “to work with others to build a culture of peace and right relationship among ourselves, the Church and with the whole Earth community.”

To forward this mission, SMR applied for and received an IHM Ministry Grant. We have developed a year-long program for women veterans suffering with PTSD. The Greater Los Angeles Veterans Administration advertised our program on its website, which helped us locate and enroll appropriate candidates for the program. Candidates gathered for the first time for three days in July. Two other three-day sessions will be held in September and December.

There is an opportunity for follow-up sessions for all participants. The women will be housed at our Retreat Center and a local home that has been donated for our use. Transportation, tuition and meals will be provided. The facilitators are Callie Wight, RN, MA, and Mary Morse, our SMR director. Callie, now retired, worked with the LA Veterans Administration and counseled this population.

We are particularly grateful to the IHMs for the opportunity to support these women who are drastically underserved. Hopefully, they will experience deep healing from the emotional, physical and spiritual wounds that they have experienced. Your prayers on their behalf would be gratefully appreciated.

SMR’s other programs are varied and include, Equinox and Solstice Seasonal Celebrations, Women’s Writing Workshops and opportunities for private retreats and sabbaticals.

As an IHM Associate, I am presently serving the first year of a three-year term on the Associate Council. I love my participation with the Council, which helps me more deeply connect and serve the community I love.