Saturday, September 22, 2012

Aosta Valley in the heart of the Italian Alps

In a new way and at a deeper level, I have experienced the strong connections among Sisters of St. Joseph around the world. As I traveled to Aosta, Italy Having never been to Italy before, I was not sure what to expect.  Except for feeling at a total loss for the language, I felt very much at home.  Interestingly, all of us participating at the Global Coordinating Group began referring to the place we were staying that is owned by the Aosta Congregation as “home.”  This year there was a great ease and wonderful  sense of togetherness as we discussed important issues in four languages.  Hard questions were asked and we worked towards consensus in our decision-making.  There was never a sense of anyone trying to control an outcome.  Actually, I think we were all surprised by the decisions we made.  What was obvious was our comfortable connection with each other.  We spoke different languages and came from different cultures but the connection was palpable.
Sr. Armanda from Aosta and Sr. Gabriella from Pinerolo, our Italian hosts

Sr. Armanda, the General Superior from Aosta, took the opportunity to introduce us to the sisters from Madagascar who were working in Aosta.  Some of them were learning to speak English so a little direct communication without a translator was possible. 

 Sr. Angela, Argentina, Sr. Griselda, and Sr. Odile from France
The highlight of the meeting was Sr. Griselda’s presentation on the work that she has done this year at the United Nations.  The global participation and support for this work has been very exciting and it has built stronger bonds among us.

The food was delicious with much of it grown in the Aosta Valley.  Homemade bread and local cheese were a part of every meal.  Soups and pastas were beyond description. 

Sr. Mary Lou on our hike
To make this whole trip perfect, the day before and after our meetings with tremendous weather, Mary Lou Mitchell, the other United States sister attending this meeting, and I went hiking in the Alps.  That was so much fun that we had to go hiking the day after the meetings too!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

One Year Anniversary

 As I celebrate one year as the Executive Director of the US Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph, I take great joy in looking back at all the wonderful opportunities I have had this year.  I have traveled extensively and met many interesting people.  Each opportunity has expanded my horizons and exposed me to new ways of thinking and being.

My first global coordinating group meeting in Switzerland
One of the fringe benefits of this job is that I can to travel internationally.  I am writing to you from my vacation in Chamonix, France.  I have traveled here on my way to the Global Coordinating Group in Italy.  At the Global Coordinating Group we will discuss the many international efforts that the Sisters of St. Joseph engage in together.  I look forward to the discussion on the major accomplishments at the UN-NGO where Sr. Griselda has issued two major statements this year, one on human trafficking and the other on climate change.  Then it’s on to the International Center to discuss the strategic plan that we are working on.  Although communication with sisters who speak in 5 languages is a challenge and I am really challenged by trying to learn to speak French, I find the relationships that I am developing internationally to be so fulfilling. 

Susan Wilcox, Marianne Sennick and Griselda Martinez Morales at the UN
I really enjoy my connections with the Leadership Council, the regions and the Leadership Assembly.  We strive to listen together to where we are being lead.  There have been discoveries at each meeting that seems to be more than what any of us would have expected.  These powerful experiences are really amazing.

Joe Favazza
I have enjoyed working with Joe Favazza, the US Federation Administrative Assistant and the committees that have helped us develop the website.  I have learned a lot and know that we are just beginning to tap the power of this new tool to connect us and enable us to “be and act as one.”

Gathering of the Daughters

My visit to Hartford
Agregee ceremony in Concordia
I have had the opportunity to meet with many sisters, associates and agrégées and feel that I have been changed by these encounters.  From Sr. Susan Wilcox I have been exposed to a new way to pray.  I feel so much hope for the future through my discussions with younger members, associates and agrégées.  My awareness of issues of human trafficking impacts my choices on a daily basis. 

When I began this job, I was hopeful that I would have the skills required since it is so different from anything that I have ever done. I think things have gone really well.  I know that I really enjoy going to work almost every day.