Belated Celebration of National Catholic Sisters Week at Regis College
CONTRIBUTORS TO THIS ARTICLE: Mary Rita Weschler, CSJA, The Women’s Table; Pat Andrews, CSJ, The Literacy Connection; Breda Bosch, Jesuit Volunteer at Casserly House
Thanks to a mid-March snow storm, Regis College celebrated a belated version of National Catholic Sisters Week on Tuesday, April 4, 2017. The event began with a mini-resource fair highlighting our CSJ Boston Congregation ministries: The Literacy Connection, Casserly House, and The Women's Table, as well as Bakhita House, founded by several congregations of Catholic sisters in the Boston Area. The resource fair was followed by a moderated panel discussion with program directors and one participant from each ministry.
This format was a wonderful way to showcase the breadth of ministries supported by the Sisters of St. Joseph. The combination of resource fair and panel discussion afforded both staff and students an opportunity to become familiar with the stories of these ministries. It was a very positive experience for both presenters and students who expressed their desire to volunteer in the future. There was a genuine interest in what the sisters, associates, and CSJ partners in ministry are doing.
During the panel, Mary Lou Jackson, Special Assistant to the President for Mission Effectiveness at Regis College, asked what would be needed to address the concerns which our individual programs face. What immediately came to mind was Pope Francis' call to end what he calls “global indifference” to the plight of so many refugees and displaced people. Looking out at a very full room of younger and somewhat older adults who gave up an hour to come to the panel discussion, there was also a spark of hope. Even better was the feeling of genuine interest on their part when groups of students took the time to speak with us individually after the program ended. One student approached in tears because she was so touched by what is happening in these ministries.
Be Still. I Am Your God — The Practice of Centering Prayer and Lectio Divina
By Catherine Sabatini, CSJA
A generous welcome with a beautiful buffet of fruits, desserts, homemade bread, and fresh lemonade awaited sisters, associates, and friends who arrived at Fontbonne Convent, Milton, for the April Associate Gathering. Margaret Lelakes, CSJA, began with a talk about Casserly House. She explained how even little donations mean a lot and volunteers are always welcome, if just for one day. Mary Ellen O’Connell, CSJ, welcomed a potential associate from Scituate and reminded associates to return commitment papers. As a group, we reflected on Maxims 61-65 with interpretations from Frances Agnes Blake, CSJ, Susan Wilcox, CSJ, and Marcia Allen, CSJ.
We then proceeded upstairs where Kathleen Short, CSJ, and Judy Swett, CSJA, led us in a presentation on the methods of Centering Prayer and Lectio Divina. They began with music featuring the lyrics, “Be still. I am your God.” with the intention of carrying this with us throughout the day. Once the music was complete, Kathleen reminded us that this type of prayer may not be for everyone, but it is a great way to be with the heart of God. Making reference to Jesus’ words on prayer in Matthew 6, Kathleen reminded us that Centering Prayer allows us you to make room to pray.
After viewing a video that celebrated 33 years of Contemplative Outreach, Judy Swett, CSJA, provided us with an excellent overview of Centering Prayer followed by 20 minutes to engage in the practice of Centering Prayer. She explained how the daily practice of this form of prayer can deepen our relationship with God. In Mark 6:30-44, Jesus said, “Come away and rest for a while.” Judy gently reminded us that there is no right or wrong way to practice Centering Prayer. After participating in the Centering Prayer, we reflected on the experience. Some commented that they moved to were tears; others said that they fell asleep!
Mary Ellen O’Connell, CSJ, Kathleen Short, CSJ, and Judy Swett, CSJA, thanked Kathy Maguire, CSJ, Anna Edge, CSJ, Jean McKinney, CSJ, Dorothea Masuret, CSJ, and the sisters at Fontbonne Convent for their assistance and hospitality. Dorothea closed by reminding us that Fontbonne Convent’s doors are always open for all of us and wished us a peaceful Easter season.
This Is Holy Ground...
By Betty Cawley, CSJ
We came together on April 22, 2017, to celebrate Earth Day and the 25thAnniversary of our Corporate Stance on Behalf of the Earth. Sisters, associates, and friends gathered at our Motherhouse, Fontbonne Convent, and Bethany Health Care Center Chapel to commit ourselves anew to the Care of our Common Home.
At the Motherhouse, we began around the fountain nestled behind the Motherhouse and paused to pray at sacred earth spaces around the property. At each stop, we blessed the space and sang Monica Brown’s mantra, “Holy Ground.” Sisters at Fontbonne Convent gathered in the dining room overlooking the beautiful outdoors to pray and reflect on Earth Day. Sisters from Bethany Health Care Center and St. Joseph Hall gathered in Bethany’s chapel for a similar service. In each place, cards with our corporate stance were distributed and all renewed the commitment made 25 years ago.
The journey to the formulation and acceptance of the original corporate stance began with the 1990 Congregation Chapter which called us to “education and action on behalf of Earth.” Following this Chapter, a committee of more than 40 people worked on the process that included retreats, lectures, workshops oﬀered by experts in the New Cosmology, such as Thomas Berry, CP, Miriam Therese McGillis, OP, and Mary Southard, CSJ, as well as cluster meetings that encouraged discussion to promote Earth Literacy. All this culminated in the vote to aﬃrm our Corporate Stance on Behalf of the Earth.
On April 12, 1992, as part of a dynamic Arts Festival, we gathered to oﬃcially aﬃrm our Corporate Stance on Behalf of the Earth, whereby we committed ourselves—individually and corporately—to its values and to its implementation in our lives. The implementation of the corporate stance included the formation of an Earth Committee and Earth Book Clubs, all of which have served over the past twenty‐five years as part of our ongoing education in Earth Literacy, the New Cosmology, and our understanding of the interconnectedness with all of creation.
Our April 22, 2017, recommitment to our corporate stance on behalf of the earth, is part of our rich history, our lived experience, and numerous resources provided by those who have gone before us, all of which enable us to enter more deeply into the mystery of God’s love continually manifested through God’s creation.
PICTURED TOP TO BOTTOM: Masthead: Budding trees on Fontbonne property; Earth Day at the fountain behind the Motherhouse; Earth Day blessing at Motherhouse garden; Fontbonne Convent dining room — the perfect setting to renew our corporate stance on behalf of the Earth.
SOURCES FOR THIS ARTICLE: Helen Sullivan, CSJ, CSJs Take Strong Stance on Behalf of the Earth, Soundings, Fall 2014, pg. 16-17; Conversations with Pat Keefe, CSJ; CSJ Boston Archives