Thursday, August 18, 2016

Sister Story - Sr. Alice Holden

This month we are excited to share with you a little bit about our dear sister Alice Holden, and the wonderful work she is doing to bring more peace and understanding to the world through her interfaith and retreat work! 

Sr. Alice Holden was born in Chicago, Illinois and raised in a suburb west of Chicago.  She attended a school run by the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word and joined the Congregation shortly after high school in 1953. Three years later she made vows as a woman religious. We congratulate her on recently celebrating her 60th anniversary as a sister!

Her previous ministries included teaching for about 15 years in a number of different schools throughout Texas. She also worked for many years in homes and organizations for children with special needs.  She later worked in parish ministry, and was elected to the Province administration when the Congregation joined San Antonio and St. Louis areas into the United States province. She then served as a campus minister and teacher at Incarnate Word Academy St. Louis.

During her time at IWA she attended the Graduate Theological Foundation and received a D. Min. degree with a focus on poetry.  Her studies and writing of poetry encouraged her to take a sabbatical and attend a program sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph where she learned many skills that she continues to teach and practice today such as T’ai Chi Chih, poetry writing, meditation, and retreat facilitation.  She used these skills as Administrator of Rebarn, a center for spirituality and art in San Antonio, and also has a book of poetry published entitled “Sparks of the Divine One.”

Sr. Alice Holden with others at the blessing of the Interfaith
Retreat and Conference Center. 
In 2007 Dr. Agnese, President of the University of the Incarnate Word, invited her to live at the Denman Estate where he wanted to establish a retreat and conference center. For the past 10 years she has been presenting classes in T'ai chi Chih, Poetry, journal writing, meditation and conducting small retreats.  Last year while considering retirement, Sr. Alice decided instead to make the dream of this space a reality.  Sr. Alice says, “I asked him how I could help make his dream come true of a retreat and conference center. He said we needed only two million dollars and nine months. My response was immediate, “What’s that to God. However, it must be an interfaith retreat and conference center. The population of UIW is such that that is needed and the problems of our world call for dialogue among religious groups. To my delight, his response was immediate affirmation.”

Now Sr. Alice, through the interfaith retreat and conference center is engaged in meeting many people of different faiths. She is connecting with the city in some of their programs on inclusivity, including meeting with the Diocese to see how she can assist in the greater evangelization program for the Church.

In February, they hosted a week of inter-faith programs focused on creation led by Sr. Martha Ann Kirk entitled, “Together, Caring for Creation.”  On September 1, 2016 they are joining together to have two inter-faith prayer sessions inspired by Pope Francis’ call for Prayer for our Common Home on the World Day of Prayer for Creation. 

Sr. Alice says that, “This project is important to me because I really see us as one people under God, our Creator.  As Rumi, the Islamic poet of the 7th Century said, “We are all children in the classroom of God. We simply need to stop throwing spitballs at each other.” As a Sister of Charity of the Incarnate Word, I feel an obligation to affirm the God within all humankind, even in those who think differently than I think. In fact perhaps, I must especially be aware of God’s presence within them.”
Sr. Alice with members of UIW Sustainability Office with
her table top garden. 
She is incorporating sustainability into the retreat center by requesting that the one-story auditorium which will one day be built, be dependent on solar energy. Also, they plan to install a Solar Ball called rawlemon on the grounds there. ( 

Sr. Alice was gifted with a table top garden by the University of the Incarnate Word, which she  hopes will soon be thriving with veggies. Also beside her home she has two small gardens seeded with lettuce and herbs.

Thank you Sr. Alice for your commitment to peace and justice through your interfaith and retreat work, and for your commitment to sustainability at the interfaith retreat and conference center!  

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