As a the Sisters of St. Joseph team and council, we have completed our first half-year. Early in our term, one of the sisters advised me, "You’re just freshmen. Give yourselves time to adjust." Th at has been such a great image for me. We have a four-year term and we have just completed our first semester. I feel like I’m beginning to get a rhythm for the ministry of Province Leadership. We continue working for you through the post-Christmas lull and its associated winter blues, and we ask for your prayers in our mission. So yes, you guessed it. I’m talkin’ rhythm and blues!
As for the rhythm, the team and council meet for three
days at the beginning of every other month. We begin
with time for prayer and sharing of the heart. We also try to
include time for relaxation and celebration during our days
We have been inviting the department heads to come in
one-by-one and discuss their current operations and plans
moving forward. These have been good opportunities to
further our understanding of the province departments
and to work toward open communication. At the January
meeting, we met with the Health and Wholeness staff to
better understand this important ministry and the hopes
and challenges of serving our sisters’ needs.
We review the province's financial report, discuss our
ministry fund and approve some requests. We also discuss
updates on various projects and aspects of province life.
In addition to these semi-monthly meetings, we serve as the
province investment committee that meets quarterly.
As a team, we meet weekly on Wednesday mornings. We
begin with prayer and sharing. We often bring the week’s
prayer requests to our circle along with upcoming meetings
and events, holding them in prayer. Th en we move into the
more immediate business. We share projects or concerns
and get input from each other. We try to finish our morning
with those gathered in Holy Family Chapel for the regular
Wednesday Midday Prayer.
I’m also trying to strike a balance personally with prayer,
community, family, consultation ministry and personal
wellness. Let me say it’s a work in progress.
For the blues part, after the hustle and bustle of the holidays,
the cold dark days of winter can be challenging to many of
us, myself included. Many are also facing illness and death
among family and friends, personal illness and major life
transitions. It is a time to count on the indomitable promise
of spring in the seasons of Earth and the seasons of our lives.
The waiting of Advent gives way to the waiting of winter,
and that can test our patience.
I have to choose what gives me life and reminds me of this
promise of spring. I nourish my mind, body, and spirit with
healthy foods and with good reading and good friends in
community and beyond. I exercise my mind, body, and spirit
by walking and ice-skating, and by exploring new ideas and
new friendships. I find time to rest and relax alone, with my
friends and with my God.
Let’s pray for each other and let the meaningful beat of our
personal and community’s “rhythm and blues” intermingle in
a chorus of hope.
Friday, February 7, 2020
Friday, January 10, 2020
Greta Thunberg has been chosen as Time Magazine's person of the year for her fearless advocacy for action on climate change. In her honor, I want to post some actions that people can take to make a difference in their own lives.
- Plant trees while you search the web. Ecosia uses the profit they make from your searches to plant trees where they are needed most. Get the free browser extension and plant trees with every search. The short video to the right gives five reasons to switch to Ecosia as your default engine, including trees, environment and privacy.
- Explore the Drawdown project at https://www.drawdown.org/. Project Drawdown is a world-class research organization that reviews, analyses, and identifies the most viable global climate solutions, and shares these findings with the world. Understand these solutions, advocate for them and choose one to implement in your life. Once you have implemented that solution, choose another.
- Choose radical hope. It is easy to be overwhelmed by the enormity of the problem and by the lack of adequate response. Don't be discouraged, choose hope and choose to act. Join with others and be part of the solution.
- Rejoice in God's gift of creation: humans, plants, and critters. Trust in the power of the Creator and the Spirit of redemption and renewal.
Friday, December 20, 2019
Women’s voices are important to the project of integral ecology because women are most deeply impacted by ecological degradation. By every metric, women have less access to the good things of the earth: to food, to water, to sanitation, to health care, to education, to security, to property, to rights, to employment, to wealth, and to technology. when resources are limited, when society is unstable, women and children suffer most acutely. Nearly three-quarters of the world’s poor are women, and the poor are often forced to further degrade their environment simply to survive. The united nations and many international organizations involved in promoting health and sustainable development are increasingly realizing that the face of poverty is a woman’s face.
Friday, November 22, 2019
In Laudato Si’, Pope Francis describes an “integral ecology, one which clearly respects its human and social dimensions” LS 137). The human and social dimensions of ecology point to natural sustainability in which human persons are a part of—not apart from, much less above—nature. The encyclical notes that it is not enough to merely live healthy human lives; we are also called to seek lives that are sustainable in relationship with the natural world, lives that are spiritually meaningful and culturally rich. and finally, we are called to seek sustainability and meaning in a way that is equitable for all peoples across the globe, which in turn preserves valuable resources for our children’s children.
One reading of the creation story sees God high above in the heavens, in transcendent glory. Humanity is set as the pinnacle of creation, with a mandate to fill the earth and subdue it. This is a mandate that seems to place human beings apart from and above the rest of creation. In this reading, humans see creation as a thing to be used, and even abused; the innate value and the beauty of each living creature and of all that God has created are subordinate to their utility at the service of human beings and human civilizations.
In contrast, a different reading sees creation as God’s garden, as the outpouring of the heart of our loving God, inviting all creatures into existence and into a loving relationship with the Creator. Pope Francis turns to Ali Al-khawas, a Sufi mystic poet, to help describe the relationship:
The universe unfolds in God, who fills it completely. Hence, there is a mystical meaning to be found in a leaf, in a mountain trail, in a dewdrop, in a poor person’s face. (LS 233)
Friday, November 8, 2019
Sometimes people pose the question: Why did you become a nun? Why did you enter the convent?This prompts me to return to that moment years ago when I first thought about becoming a sister. I was in college and I had all the high ideals and lofty hopes typical of a young college student. I wanted to make a difference, I wanted to change the world, I wanted to live a meaningful life. The notion of a religious vocation came into my life in this liminal space that was charged with high-minded dreams.
When the notion of vocation first struck me, it came loud and clear, fast and furious. I was gobsmacked. Who? Me? God? Calling? It took time to sort out the meaning of this experience. I explored, visited, prayed, and discerned. Yet I still remember the afternoon in my college dorm when I first intuited a call to religious life. For some it is a gentle tug, for others a deep longing, for others an undeniable certainty.
People also ask: Why do you stay? Why are you still here after all these years?This is harder to answer. I could return to that first moment, that first sense of call. My life, with all its highs and lows, its consolations and desolations, has been a 'living out' of that first sense of call. Some say that when I come to religious life, the first decades make me who I am. There are the years of formation in which I deepen my sense of call, learn about religious life, about prayer, community, and mission. And then after the decade of initial formation, I begin living religious life. It becomes natural. My personal identity and my community identity become integrated. I am a Sister. I am a Sister of St. Joseph. After decades of religious life, you can take the sister out of the community, but you can't take the community out of the sister. So I stay because this is who I am, who I have become.
Am I happy? Yes. Do I struggle? Yes. Is it all worth it? Yes, and Yes, and Yes.
Sunday, October 27, 2019
Laudato Si’ is in continuity with a great deal of good work that has taken place in fields dealing with ecology, sustainability, eco-spirituality, and the integrity of creation. The encyclical makes reference to many important voices, and significantly leaves aside others, in the conversation about the current ecological crisis, global poverty, and sustainability. It situates conversations about ecology within important discussions about morality, justice, poverty, technology, and globalization. By articulating an integral ecology from below, it challenges everyone to a new level of co-responsibility. The document invites all people into a conversation about “our common home,” a term that the pope repeatedly uses in referring to this planet we share. “Our common home” is a term that points to the deep unity of all creation, and the important connection that we all share as part of the natural community.
We all make simple daily choices regarding food, energy, transportation, and consumption. Each of these choices affects the world we live in, and hence each choice affects each of our brothers and sisters. The cumulative effect of our choices, whether for good or for ill, impacts every living thing on earth. Environmental degradation disproportionately impacts the poorest and weakest in the human community and in all other communities of plants and animals.
While it does a great deal to bring care of creation into the mainstream of Catholic social teaching, Laudato Si’ is not without its faults and its critics. While it represents a step forward, it also has flaws that exemplify some of the challenges we face today with regard to gender issues in the church and in sustainable development. The Amazon Synod seeks "new paths for the church and for an integral ecology" and there is some hope that gender issues are beginning to be raised in the conversation.
Friday, September 27, 2019
- Giving Voice
- Sisters 2.0
- Leadership Collaborative
- Federation gatherings of sisters
The development of these various collaboratives demonstrates the dynamic interaction of personal relationship, social media, community organizing, and in-person meetings. These grass-roots movements take their place in the unfolding story of religious life, affording sisters a space where evolution can occur. They are places for building the relationships and networks that will help to support them in the coming decades of religious life. There will be fewer and fewer sisters taking on more and more of the leadership roles in their communities, with the dual task of hospicing the greatest generation of their community’s history and fostering the life and evolution of the minority cohort. Both tasks are critical.