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.