Convention highlights speaker’s trek across the U.S.
By JOANNE FOX, Globe editor
LE MARS – Daniel Reinke of Forest Lake, Minn., had to clarify his walk across the United States was not a solo one.
“‘I walked, but I should say, ‘We walked,’” he pointed out. “Christ walked with me during those 99 days.”
Reinke was the keynote speaker for the Diocese of Sioux City Catholic Women Biennial Convention, April 25-26, at St. Joseph Church in Le Mars.
The two-day event encouraged women to move forward in their faith and FAITH, or “Forward All Inquiries to Heaven,” while sharing God’s gifts to do God’s work, which was the theme of the event.
Reinke recounted his three-month pilgrimage, Cross America, and what others could do to take their faith to the next level in two talks at the convention.
His journey, which began in Seaside, Ore., and ended in Virginia Beach, Va., took place between May 5 and Aug. 12, 2013. Reinke’s goal started out as a personal one.
“I wanted to grow closer to God, not so much, ‘Hey look! I’m here to inspire Christians,” said the parishioner of St. Peter Church. “I set out on this trip to inspire others, but I was more inspired by others.”
During the 2,400 mile trek, Reinke toted bagels, peanut butter and protein bars, tented wherever it was safe and legal, and gathered enough stories to fill a small novel.
“Oh, I started out laughing and rejoicing in my faith,” he admitted. “On Day 5, I found myself tired and hungry and getting angry at God for how I felt.”
His attitude changed when two women stopped to inquire about what he was doing.
“They gave me almonds, apples, dates and chocolates,” he marveled. “I told my sister, it was like a story out of the Bible.”
Then, he paused, and noted, “Well, except for the chocolates.”
Another time, Reinke had to be reminded the walk was not his plan, but the Lord’s plan.
“A lady picked me up and she clearly wanted to talk about stuff in her life, but my plan was to walk so many miles that day and I became frustrated,” he related. “When I got out of the car, it was like God punched me in the head for not being more patient. I had to call home and ask everyone for prayers.”
Although his parish priest gave him a dispensation from Mass on this trek, Reinke did not miss the Sunday obligation once.
“I spent most days praying the rosary, but I loved receiving the sacraments and when Sunday came around, I needed his body and blood to sustain me,” he insisted. “Again, God was with me on this journey, because when I thought I might not be in time for services, it always worked out that I was within five to 10 minutes of Mass.”
Each day’s journey was about 25 to 30 miles. Reinke wore a sign on his backpack that read “Cross America.”
“That generated conversation, but I think it also protected me,” he said. “I had no issues with animals, although I almost stepped on a couple of rattlesnakes before I pulled back. I truly believe it was my prayers and the prayers of others that helped me out. God certainly blessed me because I was not sick or hurt once during the trip.”
At the conclusion of the trip, Reinke felt a stronger connection with God.
“I discovered: Without him, I am nothing, but with him, I am everything,” he said. “By the end, I was so filled with joy, I could swallow a banana sideways!”
The convention began with registration on April 25, followed by a holy hour with Eucharistic adoration and reconciliation led by Bishop Walker Nickless and Father James Tigges, CWD spiritual advisor. After dinner, the bishop spoke to those in attendance.
April 26 began with an introduction of candidates for office, Reinke’s morning presentation, lunch, voting for officers, silent bidding and presentation of the Our Lady of Good Counsel Award to Ellen Streit of West Bend, former CWD president from 2010-2012.
The event concluded with Reinke’s afternoon talk, praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, installation of Robin Corzilius of St. Mary Parish, Remsen as CWD president and Joanne Craig of Blessed Sacrament Parish, Sioux City as CWD treasurer and Mass celebrated by Father Tigges.
“In order for us to speak with confidence in the Lord, we need to listen,” Father Tigges said in his homily, referring to the readings. “We do this in three ways, in silence, in prayer, in adoration.”
“But the last candle, the Paschal candle, is the flame of Christ, which can never be extinguished,” he said.
Mary Ann Ruether, outgoing president of the CWD, called the convention a gift to the women of the diocese.
“It is important for women to gather at events such as this convention so they can utilize to the fullest of their precious gifts of time to meet other Catholic women, share faith experiences, listen to life stories and give and receive encouragement to continue traveling the road of life,” said the Le Mars St. Joseph parishioner.
Wynn Touney of Fort Dodge echoed that sentiment.
“The convention for Catholic Women of the Diocese was again the wonderful opportunity for all women to gather in prayer and meaningful liturgy to ask for God's blessings and direction in our lives,” she said. “The board is to be commended for the concerted effort to make the day meaningful for all attending.”
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