Celebrating National Catholic Sisters Week 2016
National Catholic Sisters Week [NCSW] is an annual celebration that takes place from March 8–14. On March 9, students and faculty f rom St. Joseph Prep gathered for lunch with sisters who live and work at our Motherhouse. As the students left, one commented to Peggy Sullivan, CSJ, who coordinated the gathering with Marilyn McGoldrick, CSJ, “Can we do this every month, we love getting to know the sisters!” On the last day of NCSW Fontbonne Academy students gathered for an ice cream social with sisters at Fontbonne Convent.
In Milton, Fontbonne Academy students hosted an ice cream party with the sisters at Fontbonne Convent. They also sent greeting cards to all sisters at Fontbonne and the Motherhouse thanking them for being sisters. A Fontbonne senior who has joined in other gatherings with the sisters remarked, “I love coming here. We learn so much from the sisters and are so grateful for all they have done for us.”
Created to honor women religious, NCSW is a chance to offer events that instruct, enlighten, and bring greater focus to the lives of these incredible women. It’s a chance to recognize all that sisters have done and are doing. It’s also hoped that as more young women learn about women religious, more will choose to follow their example.
NCSW began in 2014 as part of National Women’s History Month. The inaugural National Catholic Sisters Week included a NCSW Sister/Student conference drawing more than 50 pairs of Catholic sisters and college students across the country to St. Catherine University and engaging hundreds more online, shining a national spotlight on Catholic sisters and raising awareness of their profound influence on young women. Betsy Conway, CSJ, attended this conference in 2014 and 2015 with Regis College students. Learn more about NCSW at http://www.nationalcatholicsistersweek.org/
Thanksgiving Day in March
by Judy Swett, CSJA
With e. e. cummings prayer-poem as a catalyst for exploration of the power of gratitude, associates, sisters, and seekers at our March Associate gathering left Fontbonne Convent with “i thank you God for most this amazing day”1 in their minds and hearts and on their lips. We celebrated THANKSGIVING DAY in March!
From our guides, Gloria Davila, CSJA, her sister, Alba, and Kathy Short, CSJ, we learned that every language has a way of saying “thank you”. We saw and heard gracias, merci, danke to name a few. The Latin root of gratitude is grata or gratia-a given gift. From this same root comes our word grace—a gift freely given and unearned. Gloria wondered if any one kept a gratitude journal. Several said, “Yes”. She asked if we see ourselves as gift and wondered what keeps us from seeing/loving ourselves as gift?
She shared several gratitude practices. These included taking two deep breaths upon waking in the morning, and after, ex-haling thank God and writing thank you notes – who doesn’t appreciate getting one? Gratitude is an attitude and is contagious. Science has found that people who express gratitude are healthier, resilient, less prone to depression. The happy hormones are endorphins.
Fontbonne Convent’s community room was transformed into a Sacred Spa where gracious energy flowed freely. As we settled into easy chairs that suited our weary bodies, our mediators of grace went about bearing the peace of Christ to all. They provided a profound holistic (holy) experience employing technology, personal gifts, and skill. Our senses were heightened through aromatherapy, visual therapy, guided meditation, music, massage, healing touch, a cup of delicious tea, and a period of contemplative silence. Participants replied with a heartfelt, “thank you”. We were then invited to take quiet time reflecting on what we are most grateful for and what prevents us from practicing gratefulness.
With consciousness raised we gathered into small groups and shared ways to promote gratitude: The Examen, kindness projects, gratitude walks in nature. As our time wound down, someone suggested we turn to a neighbor and offer a hug. Hugging continued like a wave that went through the group.
1i thank You God for most this amazing, by e. e. cummings, from 100 Selected Poems. © Grove Press, 1994.