Katerina loves leading retreats. The topic may be chosen by the group or parish that issues the invitation. When asked to provide a retreat theme, Katerina offers these suggestions:
How do we read the Bible?Reading the Bible not as a blueprint but as a vehicle to God’s revelation of God’s character is my goal. That includes our own willingness and ability historically and currently to respond to this revelation. Avoiding the pitfalls of a presumed inerrant reading of Scriptures is of paramount importance because such presumption keeps us from seeing the truth. Words should not hide but illuminate. “For freedom Christ has set us free!” St. Paul cries, and this is what guides me through the retreat.
The Context of the First CenturyWhat caused a sect within Judaism to overcome the cruelty and power of the Roman Empire? What gave courage to the dispirited disciples after the crucifixion? Katerina's books are centered within the context of the first century. Her latest, A New Love, follows citizens of Corinth on this journey of discovering a new way of loving God and human beings with the inspiration of St. Paul.
AdventUsing Katerina's books, Waiting for the Wonder: Voices of Advent and Light to the Darkness, together with inspiration from other poets and prose writers, Katerina leads Advent retreats. Her unshakable faith in the Incarnation is the energy behind these retreats.
LentUsing her book, Walking the Way of Sorrows with its woodcuts by artist Noyes Long, Katerina leads a guided walk through Lent for people eager for a more meaningful experience of the Passion story. What did it mean to be a participant? What did it mean to be a bystander and why should it matter to us?
Writing WorkshopsFor years Katerina has led a remarkable group of faithful and talented women in the craft of writing. The group meets at Valle Crucis, North Carolina to explore memories, emotions, and events, to write and share over the course of three days. We have a core group but welcome new writers.
Feedback from Speaking Engagements & Retreats
In the magical mountain setting of the Valle Crucis Conference Center surrounded by bird song, a chanting stream, and a porch lined with wooden rockers, Katerina Whitley prompts those who feel the nudge to write to create rich self-expressions. Presenting techniques for drawing out memory, detailing experience, describing a moment in time, Katerina evokes the poetic, humorous, nature-loving, storytelling, spiritually reflective responses that give shape to each writer’s unique voice.]
Thank you for coming to be with us at Church of the Holy Spirit! You are such a rare gift and your presentations were absolutely wonderful!! I wanted to copy to you these words that a parishioner emailed to me today: “Inviting Katerina to do a monologue in the Lenten Series and at this Sunday's service was pure genius. And, she is phenomenal. Her gut wrenching portrayal of Mary at the Foot of the Cross really did take us into the soul of Mary...her struggles and her revelations. What a gift to all of us present."
I just wanted to write you immediately to tell you what an incredible weekend this was, and how much it meant to me to be a part of it. Thank you for gathering us together, for welcoming everyone (including my friends) so lovingly, for the wonderful and challenging writing prompts, for continuing on despite exhaustion and headaches, for giving us all a safe space to grow and share, for the great hospitality of your home, for the individual time with each of us, for the cookbooks, and probably a dozen other things that my weary brain is forgetting right now...
From my secret vantage point, I observed as Katerina began to open up to us, through her monologues, the 'sword-pierced heart’ of Mary, the mother of Jesus. As the mother of Jesus poured out her pain, I watched as one, by one, by one, the mothers in the audience began to vicariously feel that pain, and handkerchiefs and napkins went from dry to damp with their tears of total indentification. Each quietly, and as though she were the only person in the room, felt Mary’s pain as her own. It was one the most beautiful things I have ever witnessed in my life.
I go over and over again that grand and glorious weekend, I marvel at how very much of yourself you gave us, how much of your soul. The things you spoke of so poignantly are so central to the core of our being that most people sheer away from discussing them. Sure, plenty of people preach on the Spirit, on faith, prayer, one’s relationship with God, but they speak from a remove either physically, from the pulpit, or authoritatively, from holy orders. But you were willing to talk with people about these difficult, crucial, personal issues in direct response to their meditations. I doubt if there was a single person left without something of value to enrich their thinking. . .