Prairiewoods hopes to cultivate compassion in Cedar Rapids

Franciscan Spirituality center hosting conference focused on compassion and environment

Published: March 24 2014 | 11:16 am - Updated: 1 April 2014 | 10:05 am in

Finding the passions that make facing Mondays — and every day — a joy and not a burden are at the heart of “Rooted in Compassion,” this year’s “Spirituality in the 21st Century” event organized by Prairiewoods Franciscan Spirituality Center at DoubleTree Hotel in downtown Cedar Rapids on Friday and Saturday.

“What lights our fire, what gets us out of bed in the morning? We want to see all the potential of every Monday,” said Laura Weber, Prairiewoods retreat coordinator and associate director. “It will be a chance to step back from the hustle and bustle and ask, ‘Who am I really and what does it mean?’”

Finding that passion is the first step to creating community and working toward positive change, Weber said. Finding ways to work with others in Cedar Rapids toward a more compassionate community is key to the conference’s mission.

The event is a follow-up of last year’s conference, which centered around building relationships and creating a community conversation. Around 500 people, including civic and non-profit leaders, attended and created “circles,” which met and talked throughout the year about service and community.

“People formed a bond and wanted to continue a conversation,” Weber said. “This is about building on what we did last year.”

Prairiewoods Director Laurie Harris said participants will consider how to make Cedar Rapids part of the International Campaign for Compassionate Cities, an organization aimed at helping foster a culture of compassion.

“We’ll be asking, ‘How can we create a more compassionate city?’” Harris said.

Performance poet Drew Dellinger and author of “The Compassionate Life” Marc Ian Barasch will lead conversations about eco-justice and harnessing compassion to help the earth. Barasch founded the Green World Campaign, which aims to plant trees to revitalize communities and degraded environments.

That eco-friendly angle is directly part of Prairiewoods mission. Prairiewoods, sponsored by the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, a Catholic community in Hiawatha, is meant to be a sacred space for people of all faiths and cultures to find spiritual rejuvenation and exploration. With 70 acres of prairie and woodland, the center’s goals are deeply rooted in respect for the environment.

Weber and Harris said they hope the event also will provide a chance for rejuvenation from the “compassion fatigue” often felt by people in service-heavy jobs, such as in non-profits, social work and law enforcement.

“It will be a time to renew their intentions that first brought them into their careers, their service,” Harris said. “We’ll be asking, how can we nurture and renew? Being compassionate and suffering with others is not easy.”

If you go:

What: Prairiewoods: Rooted in Compassion conference

When: 7 to 9 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: DoubleTree Hotel, 350 First Ave. NE, Cedar Rapids

Cost: $75;

More information:

Comments: (319) 398-8434;

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