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Ease stress at Ursuline Center’s labyrinth

CANFIELD — The Ursuline Education and Wellness Center, 4280 Shields Road, is home to a large outdoor labyrinth. Though the labyrinth is open year-round, themed and guided labyrinth walks are offered by trained facilitators on designated days through mid-October.

All persons of faith are invited to participate in these free, weather-permitting events, according to the center. Walks generally take 20 minutes to an hour.

This year’s schedule includes 6:30 p.m. Sept. 15, “Jesus Welcomes the Sinners,” and 2 p.m. Oct. 16, “God Welcomes us All.”

Sister Nancy Pawlen said the labyrinth on the southwestern part of the Ursuline Center property is a walkway conducive to meditation and prayer.

“The original design of this labyrinth outside the Motherhouse goes back to the 1200s. This particular pattern of labyrinth is the one they built on the floor of a cathedral in France,” Pawlen said.

She said the labyrinth has been in place since 2009 at the site of a former tennis court.

Linda Reinthaler said there are often as many as 20 people at the special guided labyrinth events.

It is open for general walks from dawn to dusk. Sister Kathleen McCarragher said there are no directions.

“People who walk the labyrinth do it in silence and go where their mind leads them. One lady said she comes to the labyrinth after a stressful day at work. She said she wants to be able to go home a calm woman,” McCarragher said.

“Labyrinths are found in all cultures throughout the world. They date back thousands of years,” she said.

Reinthaler said, “People use the labyrinth for meditation and a place for prayer. People open their heart to get closer to Jesus.”

Michele Ristich Gatts said cancer survivors and veterans recovering from post traumatic stress disorder come to the labyrinth.

“People want to find comfort and solace. It is for people of all faiths,” Ristich Gatts said.

Jack Donadee, a board member at the center and his wife, Jamie, walked a labyrinth on a trip to Puerto Rico and spoke about wanting to see one locally.

The Donadees donated the funds to get the labyrinth. Jack Donadee had a company that built bridges and did other structural and concrete work.

Eileen Novotny was among those who helped start the labyrinth walk and trained people to lead guided walks as facilitators. Novotny said when the labyrinth was being built, the workers joked they were used to doing projects with right angles, which the labyrinth does not have.

“Everyone was so thrilled at what was done. We had a dedication and a prayer service and blessed the labyrinth with buckets of water,” Novotny said.

The labyrinth is barrier-free, so it can be used by people in wheelchairs and with walkers.

“The labyrinth is not a maze. A maze is to trick people and make your brain think. A labyrinth is a place where you go and find peace and contemplation,” Novotny said.

Pawlen said there is one way in and one way out for the labyrinth.

“You can’t get lost,” she said.

Call 330-799-4941 or visit ursulinewellness.org for more information.

bcoupland@tribtoday.com

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