Site of women's retreat moved after contract dispute

March 11, 1994|By Sherry Joe | Sherry Joe,Sun Staff Writer

The Howard County National Organization for Women is offering a "Rest, Relaxation, and Refocusing" retreat this weekend for women who need a break from juggling careers and families -- but a last-minute dispute with the Bons Secours Spiritual Center almost scuttled the event.

The retreat was supposed to be at the Marriotsville spiritual center but was moved to the nearby Turf Valley Hotel and Country Club this week after the Sisters of Bon Secours unexpectedly canceled a contract with NOW.

"There was a misunderstanding on the side of both parties," said Bonnie Heneson, spokeswoman for the Sisters of Bon Secours.

Neither group would say why the contract was canceled months after it was signed, but the Sisters of Bon Secours abide by Roman Catholic Church doctrine forbidding abortion, artificial birth control and homosexuality.

The conference will feature a workshop on RU-486, the abortion pill available in Europe, and a seminar on human rights and sexual orientation presented by Jan Nyquist, a lesbian who is a member of the Howard County Human Rights Commission.

Bon Secours has agreed to pay the cost differential to hold the conference at Turf Valley and will have someone at Bon Secours Spiritual Center to direct an expected 200 participants to the new venue.

NOW Treasurer Joan Gilmore said her organization is ready to proceed with the event.

"The two organizations resolved it amicably through a negotiation process," Ms. Gilmore said.

The retreat's focus on relaxation and rejuvenation is not out of place in the organization's political agenda, organizers said.

"NOW is concerned with a holistic approach to issues that affect women," Ms. Gilmore said. "Those issues include intellectual, emotional, spiritual as well as political concerns."

The retreat begins at 8:45 tomorrow morning and will include lunch, massage therapy, and individual critiques of women's professional wardrobes and resumes. The entire retreat is $25, but individual appointments can cost up to $12 for 15- to 20-minute sessions. The workshops highlight women's spiritual, physical and intellectual needs, organizers said.

"We tried to think of some fun things that would cross all boundaries and would touch women of all ages," said NOW member Lynne Porges.

One of the workshops focuses on Feng Shui, a 3,000-year-old art of creating a positive, supportive, beautiful and balanced home and workplace using a systematic approach to interior design.

"We feel it's important because all of us, as women, have very busy lives," said Cathy Read, who helped organize the retreat. "A lot of times we don't have time to do self-exploratory examinations of our lives."

Another workshop examines the issues facing women 40 years old and up. "The whole area of menopause and aging is getting a lot more attention lately," Ms. Read said.

For information about the retreat, call Nancy Drost at 997-7531 or Joan Gilmore at 730-4942.

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