You Find Me on the Journey and Guide My Steps
On January 20, 2016, we came together at St. Joseph Hall to officially welcome Jean McKinney into the candidate phase of formation for vowed life in the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston. This was a very happy occasion for us and for Jean who has requested to be among us in this capacity out of her sense of discernment and conviction that she is being called by our God in this way, on this particular path.
We are grateful to Brenda Forry, CSJ, Administrator at St. Joseph Hall, the Sisters at St. Joseph Hall, and to Francis Marilyn DeCoste, CSJ, and Marie Ancilla McCarthy, CSJ, in particular, who have already demonstrated their warm hospitality and generous welcome to Jean. In this phase of formation, Jean will be invited into a
prayerful and deeper discerning as she accustoms herself to life in community with the hope that she will be able to move forward into novitiate at the conclusion of this candidacy phase.
During the simple prayer where those present prayed with and for Jean, Rosemary Brennan, CSJ, our Congregation President, and Brenda Forry, CSJ, presented items to Jean that will provide her with some inspiration as she enters this phase of her faith journey. At the conclusion of the prayer, all were invited into the dining room for dessert and conversation.
Connecting to the Emerging Future
Rosemary Brennan, CSJ, opened our January 23 Congregation Gathering by introducing Mary Ragan, our facilitator. This was a day for speaking and listening through the lens of our Chapter 2012 Directions. Out of these directions, we initiated a planning process, affirmed choosing life for our congregation and recognized that challenges, gifts, and blessings are part of this particular moment in religious life. During previous gatherings within our planning process, we discussed mission, membership, relationship, sponsored and congregation ministries, and identified directions and pathways for going forward. From this we identified community life, housing, care of elderly, and health care as pathways for the way forward. The January gathering focused on community life and housing. Mary invited us to enter into listening that was factual, empathic, and generative as a way of connecting to the emerging future.
At the end of our time together, Pat Andrews, CSJ, Helen Power, CSJ, and Marilyn McGoldrick, CSJ, offered a comprehensive review of our past, present, and future efforts to respond to the growing needs of new immigrants.
Pat began by explaining that in June 2013, in response to the Chapter Directional Statements of 2012, an Immigration Committee was formed. The committee’s purpose is to plan how we will respond, “in new ways to the needs of people who are poor and marginalized especially immigrants” and how we will, “use our corporate voice to effect systemic change and to witness to the CSJ charism.” Our response to this call has included: Education -- not only teaching immigrants but broadening our own knowledge; and Prayer which leads to witnessing our charism through action and advocacy. Pat continued with a review of the various education, prayer, action, and advocacy efforts in which our sisters and associates have participated.
As a prelude to our next steps, Helen explained how, in August, 2014, amidst the crisis of some 50,000 women and children coming across the southern border from Central America, especially Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, and while our nation struggled to give refuge to such a large number, Rosemary Brennan, CSJ, informed Governor Patrick, that we would stand with Massachusetts and help in any way we could to be a welcoming state to those in need. Helen then summarized actions related to this initiative. Helen also highlighted The Immigration Committee’s presentation of the film Harvest of Empire planned for February 6, 2016, and encouraged all to participate.
Marilyn concluded the presentation with some potential next steps. She shared how Marjean Perhot, Director of the Refugee and Immigration Services for Catholic Charities in the Boston area, accepted an invitation to meet with a subcommittee of the Immigration Committee to provide deeper insight about the status of services in the Boston area. The outcome was an invitation to collaborate with Catholic Charities in their existing Refugee Resettlement Program. They are inviting us to help a refugee family in the journey to attain a sense of belonging while working towards self-sufficiency and independence in a new environment. We are not being asked to be caseworkers but to offer support to caseworkers. Catholic Charities is seeking assistance in three stages of this process: pre-arrival, arrival, and post-arrival. Marilyn offered details about each of these stages, the training offered, and time commitment required. She concluded with the reminder that none of this is new to us as a congregation. Many sisters have been ministering to immigrants since our congregation began. What the Chapter 2012 call asks us to do is to reach out in a new way to immigrants and to seek ways of collaborating and partnering.