Catching Up with the Mission – Sister Kathleen Kaelin

Sister Kathleen Kaelin’s ministry is all about being present to people. For the past 11 months, she’s had to learn how to do that without being physically present.

Sister Kathleen is a therapist and spiritual guide and leads meditation classes at the Earth & Spirit Center in Louisville.

“Like everyone else, since March of 2020, I’ve been working from home on Zoom, with my individual Spiritual Guidance sessions, with my fall and winter small groups that I facilitate out of the Earth & Spirit Center, and with my First Saturday of the month half-day silent meditation retreat,” she said. “Along with all that, there are Earth & Spirit Center faculty meetings on Zoom, facilitating presentations, practice groups and mentor groups with the Mindfulness Meditation Training Program. Then through email, there’s pastoring the weekly meditation group that has met in my office for over 20 years. Most of my ministry is either preparing for or actually facilitating. Because of Covid-19, we’re all so missing the in-person presence. For example, the First Saturday of the month retreat has shifted from 40-45 folks attending to 20-25 attendees.” 

With Louisville serving as a focal point for the debate on racism – following the shooting death of Breonna Taylor – Sister Kathleen said systemic racism has had a definite effect on her ministry the past year. 

“Most of the spirituality courses that I offer have a definite Saint Angela-spirit of integration of contemplation and action,” she said. “My past fall and coming winter course is titled: “A Spirituality of Engagement: A Journey from Waking Up to Showing Up.” We use books like Valarie Kaur’s “See No Stranger,” and Resmaa Menakem’s “My Grandmother’s Hands.”

Associate Patsy Beauchamp and Sister Kathleen attended a class in the fall titled “Racial Wounds,” reminding them to start with awareness of the wounds before moving into healing.

“Each of the 10 weekly sessions were led by an African-American, each one more profound than the next,” Sister Kathleen said. “I also belong to a group out of the Earth & Spirit Center that keeps us abreast of how we can make a racial impact in the Louisville area, questioning policies and speaking for and standing with the more vulnerable among us. For 15 weeks, we brought our own chairs, 10-feet apart, wearing masks and sat in reflection and meditation on the Great Lawn along the Ohio River supporting the protests going on this past fall.”

Because of Covid-19, the bonded group of Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph in Louisville meets monthly on Zoom.

“We’re really grieving the loss of the in-person gatherings at our house with soup and delicious conversation,” she said. “Some of us Sisters also meet in Angela’s Oratory, a virtual Zoom chapel, and meditate together. I also have monthly phone sessions with a meditation teacher and mentor out of California.

“Because of Covid-19, I miss the lovely home-base of in-person friendship at the Earth & Spirit Center. My monthly book group of reflection, depth sharing and support also meets on Zoom.  And more than anything else, I miss my yearly week-long meditation retreat. I’m in the process of trying to carve out space at home for an at-home retreat periodically.”

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