July 13, 2007

Congregational Chapter 2007

Here I am in St. Paul, MN on the campus of the College of St. Catherine also home to the St. Paul Province of the Sisters of St. Joseph. At any given time there are 120-140 sisters and associates present as voting or voiced delegates and observers here to be with our acts of chapter from 2001 and to articulate the direction the spirit is leading us in 2007. What an opportunity it is for me as a novice to be here. Actually, the congregation supported all of those in formation and the vocation/formation persons walking with us to come and take part in the first week of the chapter. It has been great, then, to not only be present here, but to do so with the others that are new to the CSJs and to have the opportunity to reflect on what all of this means as well to newer members.

I'm sure many of you are checking the congregational website for updates, but I thought that when time allowed, I'd add a few things of my own as the week progresses rather than leaving it all to be explained at the end. So, here goes...

We began our time together formally with a beautiful prayer service and introduction to our theme "Called to Mystery" around the center of the Coer de Catherine, where our meetings are being held. I wasn't around for the last chapter, but I am aware of the significance of the spiral in preceeding chapters, which, as you can see, was captured again in the opening ritual. It was awesome to look up and see and hear the echoes of so many sisters from so many places all connected as one.

We are obviously also having a bit of fun with the meetings as you can tell by the next pictures. Sr. Sandra and St. Joseph meet again.
Last night St. Paul welcomed us with a social after dinner. Garrison Keillor was unable to be with us, so he sent another entertainer as "Minnesota's Cultural Embassador." What a riot! You'll have to ask one of the sisters to explain in person.

One of the things I have absolutely loved is the way that the provinces and vice-provinces are presenting their accountability "stories" (rather than reports). Each vice/province has creatively presented how their sisters and associates have lived the acts of chapter from 2001. From beautiful powerpoints, to renditions of "Stone Soup," to Sr. Donna Gunn's presentation from the view point of Countess Felicite de Rochejaquelein (the woman who funded the sisters initially to come to the U.S. in 1836), the stories have connected the personal touches unique to each vice/province with the underlying story and mission that is the same for all.

I would say that there is an energy and zeal present just in being together, but an energy and zeal that is magnified with the unknowns of what will come out of the next two weeks. We are living into the days, working to move from a group to a congregation--women (and men) on a shared and sacred mission, not afraid to ask the difficult or maybe impossible questions, welcoming the unexpected, and expecting to be changed.
It's only Friday, so a few more days yet to come. I'm late for dinner and hungry, so that's it for tonight. Know that the prayers and support of all of you at home are felt in a very real way. We are all one!


  1. Sarah,
    Loved your commentary and still reading the blog faithfully...so keep it coming. Enjoy your time in St Paul. I loved my time there in 79/80. Yes we are all One!
    Nancy in Atlanta

  2. Oh Sarah, Thanks so much for this report. This is better than the Web. I am going to tell the other sisters that are here from L.A. and Albany to get to your blog tomorrow. I am so glad this is such a wonderful experience. I will be eager to share stories.


  3. I've just returned to "civilization" after a week of vacation, so haven't read the reports as yet. (Aren't you impressed that your own blog came first on my agenda?) Anyway, your personal take on the events really makes me want to read more. Thanks for taking the time. May the Spirit be with you always!

    Pat M

  4. Hey there, Sarah Jane, the way in which you captured the events of Chapter could make one think you were there!!! (Smiles) It was one wonderful week in so many ways. I am so very glad I was there with you and the other 150plus associates and sisters. We shall spiral the Mystery in Communion, yes? DON