By Kate Arenchild | News Reporter

On the weekend of Oct. 6, Lasallian community members went on a retreat at Saint Joseph’s Camp, owned by Christian Brothers and located near the Russian River. Students voiced concern over practices that Michaela Daystar incorporated into the retreat. Daystar, who has an MA in Leadership for Social Justice, facilitated the retreat and is an accredited SoulCollage facilitator, a Reiki Master Practitioner and Teacher, and a Regional Master Teacher in the Embodied Wisdom Teacher Training Program certified through Shakti Feminine University.

Welcome to students of all faith traditions, the Lasallian community focuses on the charism of a Catholic priest and the founder of the Christian Brothers, Saint John Baptiste de La Salle. The Lasallian community too is sponsored by the Mission and Ministry Center (MMC). During Daystar’s facilitation, she encouraged students to identify on a spiritual level as an animal. The intent of this activity, according to Daystar in an email, was “exploring and naming their diverse personalities and ways of being in the world (with creation metaphors using animals) to build deeper group understanding and cohesion.” She led students through a centering meditation where they chose an animal and spoke about the personality traits of the animal and how it related to their interactions as a group.

Some students, who preferred to remain anonymous due to their connections with the MMC, expressed concern over Daystar’s exercises. One spoke of the activity: “What I could gather is that she wanted us to connect to an animal. In the midst of this, I and many others fell asleep. And when I woke up, all I know was that she was crouched (on the ground) like a mountain lion, pretending to pounce. So I proceeded to [identify as a] hawk. I honestly don’t know how Catholicism fits into this.”

Some things, another said, “freaked [them] out. [The retreat] was very illuminati. The content was really unexpected.” For the discussion, students met in the chapel of the retreat center. Daystar had arranged oracle cards on the left hand side of the church, surrounded by small statues from various faith traditions, owers, essential oils, and other objects. There were two decks present, Goddess Guidance Oracle Cards and Messages from Your Animal Spirit Guides. Oracle cards, according to the back of the Goddess Guidance deck, “Bring Divine magic into your life.” One student explained that he knew that the use of such cards and other means of fortune-telling is condemned in the Bible due to his recent Seminar readings. “I thought the oracle cards should not have been in the chapel. I did not know if I should have talked to [the Lasallian community director] about them. After reading the Old Testament in Seminar, you hear about how God is greater than all other gods.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church states in paragraphs 2116 and 2117 that all magic is “gravely contrary to the virtue of religion” and “all forms of divination are to be rejected” because “they contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone.”

The author of one of the oracle decks present, Doreen Virtue, who authored the Goddess Guidance deck, was baptized Christian last Spring after an “encounter” with Jesus. She has since denounced all her previous materials, including the deck displayed at the retreat, and asked her followers to turn away from “darkness” and burn the decks. Virtue asked her publisher to take materials out of print, “in case people used them to worship idols and deities other than God.” When contacted about the place of the cards in the retreat, Daystar declined to comment.

The Collegian corresponded via email with Daystar after the retreat. She stated that her overall intent was to help the community “better understand their unique gifts, to deepen their connection with each other, and to better understand how to discern their calling throughout their lives.”

According to Carrie Davis, Lasallian Community director and MMC employee, the purpose of the retreat was to bring the students together to experience community and faith. She emphasized the importance of community through structured sessions and free time spent bonding together. Faith was addressed through beginning each meal and the four retreat sessions with a prayer or meditation. Davis stated that the mission of the MMC is to “allow students in various ways to think about their faith, explore their faith, and live out their faith.” During the weekend, students were engaged in facilitated discussions and activities that centered around “self-care and vocation,” led by Daystar. In an email correspondence, Daystar declined to comment on the relationship between her facilitation and the Catholic faith.

Retreat participant Cora Campbell ‘20 said, “I thought it was really interesting to have someone who was not familiar with the Catholic values or Lasallian core principles at all. It was more about self-care and this idea of nding yourself, I guess. But I just saw a disconnect between what she was bringing and trying to show us and teach us and our values and principles and what our community is based around.” Campbell continued, “Saint Mary’s is afraid to be Catholic, in a way.” Laura Hazen ‘20, a student employee of the MMC, said: “I was surprised [the retreat] wasn’t … more religious.”

Daystar has a history of working with Saint Mary’s. In the past, she has been hired by the Catholic Institute for Lasallian Social Action (CILSA) as well as the Women’s Resource Center (WRC). For CILSA, she is currently on the leadership and teaching team for the Micah Fellowship. Additionally, she facilitated a session at CILSA’s Leadership and Social Justice conference last Saturday. The WRC had Daystar present “Imaging Resilience through SoulCollage” at their 2016 Wo/ Men’s conference and women’s retreat. It was at this retreat that Karin McClelland, director of the MMC, came to know Daystar and invited her to facilitate a Lasallian retreat sometime in the future. According to her website, Daystar seeks to create experiences that draw participants to uncover their own “innate wisdom and creative nature,” so they can “connect more deeply with aspects of their identity and purpose.” Her methods seek to support those impacted by “racism, patriarchy, heteronormativity, and other oppressive factors.”

“Either [the College should] be Catholic or not be Catholic,” said Rebecca Milioto ‘18, a former Lasallian community member, after listening to participants. “Saint Mary’s is just going to be known as some hippy school [that] used to be Catholic but is now becoming Catholic in name [only].” Milito stated that of all the religious activities at Saint Mary’s, she would like to have at least “one Catholic retreat.”

This article has 13 comments

  1. It seems the we have become cowards. We seek not answers and Truth but instead the feeling of comfort convinience. We are trained to be nice instead of seek the good. We are allowed to be childish and excused in our outburst by a victimization mentality but would jump at the chance to turn around and tear down those who disagree. We are brainwashed see knowledge as power to be used as a weapon not as a gift to be charished and shared. We have indeed grown cold and our worth is only by our empty intentions. We do not care and lie about it. We are self destruction incarnate and tingle with the sick excitement at violence.

    As it is said the road to hell is paved with good intentions. The ignorant will blissfully walk into a hell that they have created. And worst of all, those from within that do not put thier foot down who will be responsible for the damage at the time of jugment.

    The greatest jugment will befall those of us who claim the Catholic faith and remain willfully ignorant and afraid try, to question, to believe

  2. This article brings to light some important tensions that have been bubbling just under the surface at Saint Mary’s for a while now. They can’t be swept under the rug forever. There are ways of being a solidly Catholic school and at the same time celebrating the values all human persons bring to the table. In fact, this is what the Church is called to recognize in Vatican II. Bringing tarot cards into a church is not an example of this sort of work. Perhaps there needs to be further reflection on the writings and teachings of St. John Baptist de La Salle in order to understand his vision for the formation, education, and flourishing of all human persons.
    Thanks to the Collegian for supporting such great journalism!

  3. Oh, she was great at the women’s retreat…maybe y’all should be more open minded.

  4. I’m going to be so bummed if this is real, and not a mistimed April Fool’s joke. Also, I have some magical snake oil that I could probably sell to F, who sounds like a very open minded person. If you take a sip and wish upon a knight of cups tarot card during a rising mercury, it will grant you the power of double vision.

  5. There is the Saintly and true Lasallian legacy of our Founder St. John Baptist de la Salle & then,
    the proto-heretical musings of an eminent Catechist, former (!) Christian Brother Gabriel Moran F.S.C.,
    & apostate, …
    Apparently his divergent echoes still resonate at many? most? De La Salle schools world-wide.
    I come from DLS Taft in Manila Philippines which I personally know is most profitable, and believe is 😢
    Catholic in name only.

    To paraphrase Scripture…
    “WHAT DOTH IT PROFIT A UNIVERSITY IF IT GAINS THE WHOLE WORLD, BUT LOSES THE SOULS OF IT’S STUDENT’S.”

    Live Jesus in our Hearts, FOREVER.
    AMEEN.

  6. Marcelle Moruza Rose

    Thank you Collegian for printing this.
    There may yet be hope for returning the College to it’s Catholic Roots.
    Marcelle Moruza ’73

  7. This is so very sad. But, it does not surprise me. I felt that SMC was “Catholic in name only” when I graduated in 2010. It looks like things like things have only gotten worse.

  8. Do you want to get demons? Because this is how you get demons.

  9. Marie Fournier, OCDS

    I think this school needs to go back to the BASICS foundation of our faith, the BIBLE and the TRUTH taught by JESUS OUR LORD. Read the CATECHISM!
    This College is NOT teaching the TRUTH by allowing this evil to be spoken on a CATHOLIC campus or at a retreat. I ASK OUR LADY OF MT. CARMEL to bring the TRUTH BACK to this College that bears her name. I am sure she’s crying at what is being taught and spoken for as truth but is Not.
    Praying for all so you may only teach the TRUTH OF JESUS!!!!!!!!!

  10. This is another example of how Saint Mary’s has moved away from the Christian faith and toward the existing worldview to attract a broader base of students. If we as parents of a current Saint Mary’s student, had it to do over again, we would have guided our son to a different school. Thank the Lord he sees Saint Mary’s for what it is, a secular school with a Catholic ‘history.’

  11. You wonder why the faith of young people (and others) is going to the dogs? (pun intended); It’s because of “facilitators” such as Daystar. The students mentioned in the article appear to have a better grasp of the Catholic Faith than Daystar.

  12. “Daystar” indeed.

    When women go in for ‘faith’ and ‘spirituality’ but not the theology of THE faith, the “devout sex” as Ronald Knox called them go perfectly insane. Magic cards, animal impersonations, reely speshul oils, spiffy mazes, palm reading …

    What a waste of time, and what a betrayal of the sacrifices and the wisdom of Fr. De la Salle.

  13. A Reiki shaman with her masters in “social justice” leading a LaSallian retreat. SMC has lost its way.

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