Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Attending the Global Coordinating Group 2017

Sr. Ieda (Chambery) Michele (USA- Buffalo, and Maria Goretti
 (Annecy) were the planning team for 2017
Once again, I had the privilege of going to LePuy, for which I am most grateful.  I stayed at the International Centre, where programs are held on our charism, guided tours are given of LePuy and a special Cultural Diversity program is held given several times for Sisters from all over the world. 

I walked the streets where our first sisters ministered and where they reflected/prayed/worshipped in the Notre Dame Cathedral.  It was so inspirational and motivating for me to then go to the Global Coordinating Group where Sisters of St. Joseph and Associates are represented from ALL over the world, numbering in the thousands. 
Srs. Monique (France), Gemma and Petr (Italy)

We talked about being the Family of Joseph that hears the heart of the world and responds to the needs of the world.  So, how can we support and collaborate with one another throughout the world?  One way that can be done is through our United Nations NGO representative.  After much discussion it was agreed that we commit ourselves to get information to this representative in a timely manner, who then can have an influence at the UN.   Also, we need to communicate information to our Congregations from this representative. 
Srs Anne and Loretta (Canada) and Justine (India at the UN)

Another avenue is through the International Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Committee.  (I-JPIC).  We committed to be responsive to the core group who are trying to set up a system to communicate to/from the various CSSJ Congregations in the world.  Federations and Congregation that have only a few sisters in an area will look at ways they can collaborate with one another.  Within the group there was a unity of purpose and a growing connection among our ministries around the globe.

It was an energizing and motivating meeting.  Having translations in French, Spanish and English simultaneously made it quite interesting!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

A New Way

I see a vision in 2030 of women not necessarily vowed religious, living in community, either actually in a Residence
together or at least that gather and pray daily and serve in ways determined by the need of the adjacent communities residents.  I see this as a sort of Beguine type experience where the ingress and egress of women in the daily work of the community is fluid, as in some live together. Some live with their families but pray and work with the community daily or mostly daily.  I would think the population this type of arrangement would appeal to is the older woman or the mid life woman who's children are nearly grown or who never had children.  Meaningful work and prayer would be the hallmarks of such a community.

How the sisters of St Joseph live now is close to this, however  I propose Incorporating non vowed laywoman in the community residences and daily community work and prayer, that this will help the charism live on and provide a
structure for it without the requirement of traditional training, novitiate and taking the formal vows of chastity, obedience and poverty.  The associates ceremony could be a good replacement for that.  There is so much more to figure out but convents could be full again of prayerful women who find strength in community but did not feel called to or didn't respond to a calling to religious life earlier in life.
Respectfully committed, Catherine Roberts, CSJA

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Religious Life for a Sister of St Joseph in 2030- My Sense of What Marcia and Mary are Talking About

I discard the old narrative- we are not dying, we are transforming ourselves and it is happening in ways I did not necessarily expect.  When I look out of the corner of my eyes at the periphery on the horizon I seen amazing things happening and they do begin to paint a picture of deeper communion.
Three words come to me when I imagine us in 2030: flexible, collaborative, and engaged. 

Sr. Marcia Allen at LCWR
TRENDS software indicates that maybe we will be 6 congregations in 2030.  I don’t know about that but what I believe strongly is that we will find a way as a Federation to support each other as our numbers of consecrated religious decline but our focus on and commitment to the charism and the mission continues to expand.  It may be that we have covenant relationships or mergers but what I imagine is that we will create new structures that enable us collaboratively manage the day to day in an effective way while innovating new ways to engage with those who join us as agrégées, associates, friends, partners in mission, and consecrated religious to see the big picture.  I cannot imagine being a Sister of St Joseph without these powerful alliances with the women and men who also claim our charism.  The flexibility to invent what we need to move into the future will be the hallmark of our collaborative style.

Speaking of collaboration, I imagine us forging new collaborations with people we do not yet know about issues that have not yet emerged.  Where we are needed, we will put our energy and focus. No longer do we need to be the leaders and have our name on everything we touch.  However, where we chose to spend our time our energy, resources, and zeal will be felt.
Sr. Mary Pellegrino delivers her
Presidential Address at LCWR 

International relationships are an essential element of our life in communion.  As we are smaller, we will know each other including our Sisters of St. Joseph around the world.  The US needs us to hold a global view and be able to speak with credibility about issues such as caring for the earth, global poverty, and emerging spiritualties.  We are stronger in all these areas when our global vision is formed through genuine relationships especially with those from the global south.  

Jean Pierre Medaille S.J. left us the legacy of the two trinities, the maxims and the 6 virtues. These can only really be understood as mystical documents.  Through our ongoing contemplation of these initial documents and our reading of the signs of the times, we will be able to communally discern a future together with all our partners.

Friday, August 11, 2017

LCWR Presidential Address

Mary began her address with a funny
story about how she was named
Sister Mary Pellegrino, the President of LCWR and a Baden Sister of St Joseph began her presidential address by reminding us that stories are important- they carry memories and contain grace.  Stories may or may not be true, complete or fully informed.  Sometimes stories evolve as new information becomes available.
Mary challenged the intent listeners to disrupt the old narrative- the old story about diminishment in religious life with a new story that is more complete, telling both our historical accomplishments and our failures and emerging sense of communion.  There is a new vitality in religious life and it is global. The diversity in ethnic make-up and country of origin of sisters in the US and globally is changing.  As we grow in communion, there is much for us to learn.

Sr. Teresa Maya thanks Mary for her
powerful presentation
Mary reassured us, “Our future has already entered us, is already transforming itself in us.  Our work in this house is to let the former things pass so that the future – already in our blood – can happen… I believe that tending our grief over our own many and great losses and over the heartbreak of the world, clinging to the gossamer-thin veil at this threshold between loss and revelation and inviting others to do that with us is one of the most generous and generative acts of service that we could possibly render for our grieving sisters, for our hurting neighbors, for our broken world.” 
Click here to read Mary’s entire presentation.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Day 1 LCWR- Key Note Speaker Chris Pramuk

Quoting from a range of African American writers, poets and musicians, Chris Pramuk led the LCWR through his musings that music is a metaphor for our spiritual journey. Referring to Thomas Merton he noted that music makes us vulnerable to texts that can then more fully open us. He spoke of the power of the African spirituals to open us to one another with a fascinating juxtaposition of vulnerability and power.  Words of spiritualities become as sacraments, instruments of real presence.
Chris Pramuk shared powerful insights


Chris spoke about the difference that keys make in declaring emotions in music.  It is the minor keys that touch him the most.  Those African spiritualities sung in minor keys are those that are much less sure of themselves. They speak of the grief of the past and the present and ask a question both hopeful and uncertain of the future.  It is in that hope and uncertainty that resonates with our human experience and struggles.
Piano has been a lifelong way for Chris
to experience the Divine.  He creatively
shared that gift with us

With words, Chris painted vibrant visual images and with music he engaged us in a creative way that allowed us to easily enter into the challenges that he was presenting.  Quotes from Fredrick Douglas, DeBlois and Fumi Tosu challenged us to let go of our fear of death.  Bono’s postmodern spiritual written for the mothers of the disappeared told the story of how the dead live among us and are real for us.  These words and songs “can plunge us into the liminal space between life and death” he shared.  He offered that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. preached himself through his fear of death in his last sermon before he was assassinated.

The large group then broke into smaller “deepening groups” to delve more deeply into what was said and what it offered to us.
Some of the learnings shared at the beginning of the afternoon session were:
  •  Songs in a minor key can vividly help us actively remember the past and kindle hope in an uncertain future, if we can let go of our fear
  •  The spirit speaks through everything and maybe especially in our experience of pain, loss
  • Acknowledging the vulnerability of our own lives and those with whom we minister.  That might be where our power may be
  • Sense of communion which we share with the suffering and joy-filled world
  • Expectation, movement- we may be called to action, what might the world be calling us to do?
  •  Real sense/passion to move forward in hope and with courage, the name of what has not yet been given but may emerge  
  • Fear, loss, and diminishment is real but there is a sense that there is energy and excitement for the next. The call is to live, to be a presence
  • Spirituality of music- what songs are our congregations singing- what are the words of those songs, the words and the melodies can be transformative- if they are the words that resonate with our reality
  • Dissonance in the music is the time that musicians are challenged the most to bring the best of their instrument forward.
For the rest of the afternoon, the LCWR will meet in closed session to make directional and structural decisions and to hear from the candidates for the President-Elect.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Preparing for Le Puy

Preparing to spend the next two years at the International Centre in Le Puy has been a mix of excitement, detachment and hard work over these past two months. At times I felt as though I were free floating in space and at other times I was just focused on getting things done.
Olga on a field trip to the Confluence Museum in Lyon
 while studying at language school

The opportunity to live and work in France has been a lifelong dream and when it seemed as though I’d never finish emptying my condo, dealing with paperwork or packing light, I’d think about that dream and keep moving.

I thought I lived simply in my three-story condo, but found out I had accumulated much stuff over the years. So I divided my worldly goods into four groups: things to sell, things to give away, things to store, things to take with me to France. Since I calculated that upon my return to the USA I would live in a much smaller living space, it was easier to detach myself from my 54-inch dining room table. Electronic equipment might not survive two years of storage, so out that went. Clothes that had been hanging in my closet for years without use were obvious give-aways. However, the hardest things to unload were the countless scrapbooks of photos, published newspaper and magazine articles, travel slides and many books, so I saved them together with my bulky TV that had both DVD and video capability.

Then there was my car. While it was going to a good cause (my friends were giving the car to their 25-year-old niece who is trying to recover from her drug addiction and start her life again) and I was getting my hoped-for price for it, it meant a loss of freedom of movement and maybe a bit of my identity since it was a distinctive boxy car that looked like a toaster. Since my car was one of the last things I did in this whole down-sizing process, perhaps it made me face the reality that I was leaving everything familiar and about to steep myself in a new culture, a new language, a new continent and a new experience.  Once I step on that plane, however, I’ll be ready for a new adventure, a new identity and a new way of life, so I’m up for the task!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

ACOF Convocation: Designing Relationships for Mission: Affirming Leadership, Claiming our Future

St. Louis associates at the Motherhouse for
 “The Lace Is Not Finished” workshop, May 2017
Submitted by Andrea Pearson Tande, Consociate, St Paul

Associates, Consociates, Ohana, and Familia de San Jose (ACOF, or lay associates) from all Provinces of the Carondelet Congregation are looking forward to our upcoming convocation, where we will come together to celebrate our common heritage and support leadership for our future. ACOF members from St. Louis, Los Angeles, Albany, St. Paul, Hawaii and Chile will be in attendance at this convocation, which is to be our first in more than two decades.

We will gather from June 22-25, 2017, at Fontbonne University in St. Louis MO, with a special welcome event at the CSJ mother house.

Keynote speakers include Shawn Madigan,CSJ, and Carrie Arnold, St. Louis Associate.
Associates prepare for a reception hosted during 
the 2017 Los Angeles Province Assembly.
  names: back to front left: Denise Ginty, Janne Shirley, 
Dianne Nelson; right: Sr. Irma Araneta, Linda Stapleton.
Theme: Grounding ourselves in CSJ Spirituality and History and preparing ourselves for the future.

Please keep convocation participants in your prayers as we prepare for this historic event. 

St Louis Associates at the annual meeting October 2016