November 04, 2005
Saline woman puts prayer in motion
By Lisa Briggs
The Catholic Times
LANSING -Ask Janene Ternes and she'll gladly tell
you that dancing can be prayerful.
The Ann Arbor woman, 50, and her Prayer in Motion dancers got to offer their
special form of prayer Oct. 15 at Catechetical Saturday celebration at the
"Movement in prayer helps us to pray,"
said Ternes, founder of Prayer in Motion and a member of St. Francis of Assisi
Church in Ann Arbor. "It's similar to a mantra and works to connect us to
At Catechetical Saturday, Ternes' dancers were dressed in vibrant "Holy-Spirit"
red dresses. They joyously wandered through the 500-plus seated guests at
the end of the opening prayer service and demonstrated graceful sweeps of
the arms, flowing strides and smooth movements of the body in unison.
Though those feet were agile and able, Ternes said, experiencing God's personal
call to dance is meant for all levels of physical ability. "Because the focus
is on prayer," she said, "one's dancing ability is inconsequential."
Ternes got into dancing six years ago, after her 45-year-old husband, Don,
died of cancer. Losing her partner of 17 years was hard. During her grief,
she took up ballet, and discovered it eased her grief and brought her joy.
"I decided to take ballet lessons as it was something I had always wanted
to do," she writes at her Web site, www.prayer-in-motion. com. "My first
night in class I felt something come alive in me and was excited by.the joy
I felt after so long a time of mourning. Odd as it sounds, that was the first
step in my return to God."
At about the same time, Fr. Jim McDougall, pastor at St. Francis, encouraged
her to take a spiritu-Class at Manresa Jesuit Retreat
LITURGICAL DANCERS, led by Janene Ternes, captivated Catechetical Saturday audience members with spiritual-awakening dance movements.
House in Bloomfield Hills. She signed up
for the two-year program, which was based on spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius
Loyola, founder of the Jesuits. During the program, she took a five-day silent
retreat where she discovered dance as prayer. Those two events changed her
life. She quit her corporate job, after 15 years working at Manufacturing
Data Systems Inc., an Ann Arbor-based subsidiary of Tecumseh Products Co.,
and became a spiritual director at St. Francis. She also decided to open
her own company, Prayer In Motion, which teaches others how to pray through
dance. Her classes — 90 minutes once a week for over four weeks —help people
age 5 to 70 learn to pray through dance.
"This work continually tests my faith and strengthens my relationship with
God as I see how he works through me," she writes at her Web site. "Amazingly,
since embarking on this adventure of following God's call for my life, I
have been happier than ever before, finding a deep sense of peace and joy
in m y life."
Ternes said her own deep spirituality and background as a spiritual director
serves as a foundation for the guided meditative dance program.
Ternes' program offers participants from all denominations a new avenue of
growth in their relationship with God.
"Liturgical dance offers another way to be prayerful to the Lord. There are
many channels in which we can express our love to Him. I find sacred dance
very inspiring and I’m in complete
prayer with the Lord when I'm dancing," said Julie
Chaffee, dancer and member of St. Francis of Assisi, Ann Arbor.
Chaffee met Ternes at a liturgical dance class at Concordia University in
Ann Arbor. "When the dance class ended, we parted with our classmates wondering
when we'd see each other again. Janene contacted me about an opportunity
to join her and I responded," said Chaffee.
Prayer in Motion also offers customized presentations to parish groups, schools
and organizations. Ternes speaks regularly at weekend workshops and retreats.
Ternes' work often targets specific themes such as "Moving through Grief,"
designed to help participants move through the stages of grief as they reflect
on their loss through the framework of the death, resurrection and ascension
of Christ. She has developed programs geared toward seniors, teens, children
and physically challenged individuals.
"Dancers do not need full body movement," she said. "I recently facilitated
a retreat where everyone was in wheelchairs."
"Praying through movement is a powerful way to experience your connection
to God," she told Business Direct Weekly. "The movement acts as a mantra.
The music opens the heart and the words reinforce the message. All of this
serves to awaken your ability to express your deepest feelings in prayer."
For more information about Prayer in Motion, call (734) 429-7754 or e-mail