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Providence Associate Mary Jo Ricketson and moving meditation

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Providence Associate Mary Jo Ricketson combines physical exercise and spirituality.

“Remember that bodily exercise, when it is well ordered, as I have said, is also prayer by means of which you can please God our Lord.” – St. Ignatius

Providence Associate Mary Jo Ricketson has long known that physical and spiritual health are dependent on one another. That’s why this registered nurse and licensed yoga instructor started her business — A Touch of Grace — to bring the word of God alive through physical exercise.

“I taught middle school science and anatomy and physiology at a local college,” says Mary Jo. “In both environments I saw many students falling short of their potential. I decided to resign from formal teaching and I opened my own business to help students become ‘optimal learners.’” But working with corporations and schools, Mary Jo found she couldn’t be as God-centered as she wished. That all changed when Mary Jo discovered the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

She met Sister Jane Iannaccone at a retreat, and the two became friends. “I saw in her God’s loving presence. She was humble, faithful, kind and funny.”

Later, when she heard of an associate program for a different order of women religious, she talked to Sister Jane about it. “Why not become a Providence Associate?” Jane suggested. So Mary Jo did, making her First Commitment in 2015.

“I think I have been drawn to the Sisters of Providence because they are visible signs of God’s love in this world,” she explains.

MJRicketson-PA-web-yogaSoon, Mary Jo found her intentions for her business redirected.

“Our work,” she realized, “is to not only know Christ in mind but to more fully experience him in the fullness of the body.”

Mary Jo now leads programs out of her local church that focus on the connectedness of body and spirit.

“I do think there is a connection between physical and spiritual health and even more than a connection — I think they are one and inseparable…. Our work is to discipline the mind to align itself in all ways to God through his word, the Church, the sacraments, prayer, meditation, study, thought, words and actions.”

The program itself begins with deep breathing, which connects our bodies to the Holy Spirit and promotes healing. Then, the program moves into a series of exercises to strengthen the core and enhance equilibrium and focus. Each person works at her own level, whether that’s a simple flow of movement or a rigorous workout. Afterwards, there is relaxing and calming meditation, followed by sharing passages of scripture and reflection on how to bring the word of God into daily life.

“We move,” Mary Jo says, “so that we may experience more fully the presence and power of the Holy Spirit within.”

Mary Jo also works one-on-one with clients in her home. And because clients come and go, she sends out weekly emails that provide inspiration and action around subjects like forgiveness, letting go of painful emotions, and leadership. Clients tell her A Touch of Grace “feels like going to church.”

On Mary Jo’s first visit to the shrine of St. Mother Theodore Guerin at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, she noticed this quotation: “You may have to wait longer than you would like, you may have to bear privations; but bear and forbear. Have confidence in the Providence that so far has never failed us. The way is not yet clear. Grope along slowly. Do not press matters; be patient, be trustful.”

It is Mary Jo’s favorite quotation.

“Being a Providence Associate has helped me realize the importance of working together as sisters and brothers in Christ. It has helped me live a more God-centered life.”

To become a part of Mary Jo’s email list, or to order her book or DVD, please contact her at maryjoricketson@gmail.com. You can also purchase her book, Moving Meditation: Experience the God Within on Amazon.

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Lori Strawn

Providence Associate Lori Strawn is a Freelance writer, radio show host and editor who lives in Witchita, Kansas. A 1987 graduate of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, Lori formerly served on the advisory board for the Providence Associates.

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1 Comment

  1. Jenny Nowalk on June 27, 2017 at 8:20 am

    I have been reading Mary Jo’s book for about 6 months. It is SO helpful to me and such a blessing. At the Annual Meeting this weekend, I was surprised to talk to Associates and none had heard of Mary Jo or her practice of combining movement with prayer. I felt a little sad, confused (why didn’t people hear of this) and also determined to spread the word about this Associate’s work! I am sure others would embrace the work and benefit from it. So I am determined to share with other Associates!

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