Faithbooking your spiritual journey

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If spending a weekend meditating on your spiritual journey seems like a rare luxury, consider the value your stories may hold one day for your children, your grandchildren and future generations.

That's what Colleen Duffy Kiko and MaryBeth Piccinino, organizers of the Sept. 11-13 Faithbooking Retreat at San Damiano Spiritual Life Center in White Post, say to all would-be Faithbookers.

Faithbooking is the act of journaling, scrapbooking or otherwise documenting your faith journey, spiritual practice and religious beliefs in book form. That may mean writing one's conversion story, choosing an assortment of personally influential prayers, documenting the preparation for a defining sacrament or otherwise.

Piccinino learned faithbooking from Rhonda Anderson, co-founder of Creative Memories. She said it immediately resonated with her. Soon Piccinino was holding Faithbooking sessions in her home, inviting friends and acquaintances she met through Creative Memories to join her.

"But I wanted to keep it separate from the company," she said. "I kept Creative Memories in the basement and held Faithbooking gatherings upstairs at my kitchen table. I'd set out candles and we would make our Faithbooks."

When Piccinino met Kiko during a vacation to the Greek Islands several years ago, the two became fast friends. Piccinino prompted Kiko to become a Creative Memories adviser and also try Faithbooking. Years into their friendship and Faithbooking hobby, Kiko and
Piccinino formed Leaving a Legacy, a Faithbooking ministry.

On the Leaving a Legacy Facebook page, Kiko and Piccinino write:
"We are on this earth for a finite period of time. Consider the importance of passing on a legacy of where we have been, what we have learned and what we have accomplished. How has God directed and influenced our life? Think about the miracles we have witnessed, the hard times and difficult decisions we have faced. Who are the people who have helped us along the way? We may not think our story is that important; but personal stories, told simply and shared honestly from the heart, have the power to change lives."

Piccinino, who has volunteered in the chaplain's office at INOVA Fairfax Hospital system since 1997, said she considers her Faithbooking service as valuable as her service as a volunteer chaplain because it promotes faithful introspection rare in our busy world.

Kiko, a parishioner of St. Charles Borromeo Church in Arlington for more than 30 years, emphasizes that Faithbooking is about "preserving stories," not being "artsy" or "crafty." While attention to aesthetics is encouraged, it is not, she said, the most important aspect of Faithbooking. The most important aspect is the act of reflection and documentation for oneself and loved ones.

But reflecting, Kiko said, can be difficult.

That is why Faithbookers will have Jean Noon to guide them during the September retreat. Raised in the Presbyterian faith, the program's spiritual director converted to Catholicism in 1996 after delving into the Cursillo movement. In 2009, she completed two years of study at the Spiritual Direction Institute in Charlottesville, where she first began Faithbooking. Today, she serves in the Ignatian Volunteer Corps and coordinates spiritual programs at Alexandria Juvenile Detention Center and Arlington County Jail.

"When things are hard, you look at the book and you see that God is always present," said Piccinino.

Find out more
Register for the retreat at legacylife.photo. Contact Colleen Duffy Kiko at kiko.colleen@gmail.com or Mary Beth Piccinino at marybethpiccinino@gmail.com for more information.

Stoddard can be reached at cstoddard@catholicherald.com.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015