Thursday, August 30, 2018

Outrage in New York at Family Separation

By: Sister Susan Wilcox

Shortly after the family separation policy was announced, I found myself looking for engaged neighbors at our local activist fair hosted at a Methodist Church. One of the tables had the sign “Don’t Separate Families”. I knew I wanted to connect with this group. The flyer said they would be meeting on Sunday afternoon at a local synagogue. It turns out that this came about because two alumni parents of a friend's school could not stand by without doing something about children being taken from their parents.  On that first Sunday afternoon, the room was filled with other outraged neighbors. We organized into working groups and came up with several first actions, a New Sanctuary Coalition Accompaniment Training, organizing for the June 30 Keeping Families Together March, and raising donations for organizations working with immigrants and asylum seekers. Some of our members were also deeply interested in actually going to the border; to do what, they did not know.
A map of the caravans' travels in the United States.

We continued meeting, connecting with other groups like the New York Immigration Coalition and others.Then we heard of a grassroots effort coming out of Beacon, New York called Grannies Respond/Abuelos Responden. The idea is that a caravan would head out from Beacon, stop in NYC for a rally and then continue on, making stops along the way. The final destination would be McAllen, Texas – home of the Ursula Detention Center, the largest immigrant processing center in the United States.  Two from our local group decided to participate while the rest of us worked on the NY Rally, creating interest and publicity.  The idea took off as a group from Utah and Los Angeles formed to make their way to McAllen, all converging at once. The NY caravan made stops in Reading, PA; Pittsburg, PA; Louisville, KY; Montgomery, AL; New Orleans, LA; Dilley, TX; and Houston, TX before seeing McAllen. All along the way they had rallies, vigils, and demonstrations, picking up cars and vans of more "grannies" (and "grampies").
At our most recent weekly meeting of Don’t Separate Families on Aug. 20, we hosted a reunion of the NY contingency and reached out to the public to attend (in person or via live stream) to hear their witness stories of desperation, hope, and resilience. What's next? We hope to continue to collaborate with Grannies Respond on their next project, the Overground Railroad, a network of grassroots services serving those seeking asylum.
Editor's note: You can sign up for more information about Grannies Respond/Abuelas Responded and/or the Overground Railroad here.
[Sister Susan Wilcox is a Sister of St. Joseph of Brentwood, NY]

Friday, August 10, 2018

Continuing to Refine the Process of Contemplative Dialogue at LCWR

Sr. Liz Sweeney, SSJ
This year Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) expanded on a process of contemplative dialogue that they have been using for several years.  Led by Sr. Liz Sweeney, SSJ, (Philadelphia) the participants began each of three presentations in a contemplative mode.  

The presenters Sr. Gloria Schaab, SSJ (Philadelphia) began with her presentation entitled, “In the Image of the Trinity: To Be is To Be in Relation.” Click here to read her address.  The new twist was that the other keynote speakers, Heidi Russell and Simon Pedro Arnold, OSB, responded to what they heard.  They were followed by a panel of LCWR members who also responded and then engaged in dialogue about what the presentation might mean to
Sr. Gloria Schaab
them as leaders.  This powerful new dynamic seemed to really help the process go deeper.

After a short break, LCWR participants went to contemplative dialogue groups as has been done in the last few LCWR Assemblies.  In these groups, gatherings of six engaged in contemplative silence and then followed a contemplative dialogue process to hear what was emerging.  There were four to six groups of six in each room.  After two listening processes, the groups of six shared what was emerging with the other groups in the room.  In my group there was a powerful convergence of energy as each group shared their reflections. 

Sr. Judy Donovan

 In each room was a listener who led the process.  When the whole body reconvened 4 listeners shared what they heard emerging so that the body began to get a sense of the communal dialogue of the whole.  Three Sisters of St Joseph, Srs. Judy Donovan, Joan Gallagher, and Janet Lander served as listeners.
Sr. Janet Lander

Sr. Joan Gallagher
LCWR committed to a several year process to use communal dialogue as a mode of hearing God’s voice in their seeking direction for the Conference.  Each year it does seem that the process has allowed them to go deeper into understanding their movement together.
Heidi Russell

Click here to hear Heidi Russell’s presentation.
Sr. Teresa Maya, LCWR President

Sr. Jayne Helmlinger

A highlight of every LCWR is the Presidential Address.  Click here to read this year’s address.

We congratulate Sr. Jayne Helmlinger (Orange) who is the new President Elect of LCWR

Monday, August 6, 2018

Closing Ritual for the Orientation for the 2018-2019 Novices

The novices, their novice directors and Federation representatives
 gather in the chapel for the closing of the orientation

Here is a portion of the closing ritual for the orientation of the novices.

We are each descendants of weavers, the lace makers of France, each of us women who from the core of our very beings bring to life our mission and charism. We are women called to dream a future that all may be one. We are women of unioining love…of relationship…of unity…reconciliation…hospitality of heart…we are sister to, with, and for each other and the world…

This night we light three candles…first the candle of the past. We remember the dreams of Fr. Medaille and the first six sisters, Mother Saint John Fontbonne, the founders of each of our congregations, and all of those other courageous women who have gone before us. May we honor those women of the past on whose shoulders we stand – those women who have made a difference in our lives and in the life of the world…those women who inspire us to be faithful and dedicated Sisters of Saint Joseph…

Sr. Michelle Lesher lights the
three candles
We light a candle for the present. This is where we are together…our passion…our energy…our love of God and the Dear neighbor are gathered into this time and space weaving a network of relationships reflecting who we are called to be: women of unioning love….We honor those women who at this time in history are living their lives that all may be one. We pray for each other and for all those women from our home congregations who send us here to this experience wrapped in life and love. We know that we are better because we walk this journey together…

We light a candle for the future…because we have touched the past and the present and we know that there is a creative energy moving us on – toward the more…we pray for each of us as we continue on this journey – open to the promptings of God discerning how we might be called to live this mission and charism into the future…we pray for sisters of St. Joseph throughout the world, in particular those in formation, and we pray for any women who might be considering life as a Sister of St. Joseph…among us may they find a place where they can live the love they are called to live…

Sr. Chrstine presents Sr. Jennifer
with her candle

And we light a candle for each one of you this night…as you continue on in this call to tend the flame of our mission and charism and to share it with our world so desperately longing for deeper relationships with God, self, and others…(Home directors give the candles to the novices)
Sr. Jane presents Sr. Tram with her candle

May we be the light…
Srs. Chizuru, Sarah, and Sally pray with their candles

Graces on the cloth – This community of faith has gathered here this week and now we have hopes 
Srs. Sally and Tram write their graces on the cloth
Srs. Joann and Michelle share the sign of peace
 and dreams for this Novitiate time, for our growth, for our call to new and deeper life…and we will need grace in order to do this well…and so we pause to consider the graces we’d like to ask for From our loving God – graces for ourselves – for those we accompany near and far – take a few moments to consider the grace you most want to pray for this community  - speak the grace aloud and then write it on the cloth…

Calling upon these graces, we offer a blessing for a new beginning… and share a sign of peace.