US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Where do you see the Holy Spirit? Part 6

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In the final Pentecost guest blog post, a reader reminds us that the Holy Spirit is as home in Culver's as she is in church.

Guest blog post by Bridget Purdome

The Holy Spirit is blowing through my life and the lives of others, awakening us to an expanded vision of church.

Two buildings sit side by side on 10th Street. One is a Catholic parish, the other a retreat house.

I sat on the porch of the retreat house with a group of women from area homeless shelters. It was a motley crew. Some were nicely dressed; most of us wore jeans. Some puffed on cigarettes; others munched on crackers. The conversation was loud and spirited.

Several cars pulled up full of well-dressed people. They glanced at us and then hurried into their parish. It was almost time for 5:00 p.m. Mass. I felt a brief tug of obligation. I wondered if we should have allowed time on our retreat schedule for church. I also pondered whether this would have been workable. Although the retreat team members were Catholic, the participants came from a wide variety of religious backgrounds.

Then, it hit me. We had spent the day being real together. We had shared our deepest fears and greatest hopes, our tears and our laughter. We had prayed together and eaten together. We had become church.

A colleague encouraged me to try something new last winter—a spiritual hiking group. I didn’t know what that meant, but on a 14-degree day, I put on my long underwear and four other layers of clothing.

A fearless guide greeted me and introduced 11 other women. Soon, I was trudging through the woods with frequent stops to marvel at God’s interesting creation—a muskrat home, coyote scat, and even an opossum.

We ended the hike with prayer, and then we processed to Culver’s for communion. As we munched on butter burgers, the guide read a scripture passage and invited us to respond to a spiritual question. The sharing among this group of women was surprisingly rich.

Where do I see the Holy Spirit in the church of today? The Holy Spirit is hard at work, showing us that church is both diverse and real. Church is as large as God’s expansive creation and as humble as a fast food restaurant. I’m also sure that She continues to nudge us to see that church is even so much more.

Guest Blogger Bridget Purdome holds a M.A. in Pastoral Studies from Loyola University Chicago and is currently working on a joint Masters of Divinity and Spirituality. Her daily reflections can be found at

Guest blog posts express the views of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of U.S. Catholic, its editors, or the Claretians.