The Giving Voice retreat for those in their 20s and 30s was a couple of weeks ago at Our Lady of Guadalupe monastery in sunny Phoenix-the perfect place to be in January! Our retreat leaders-Jessi Beck, PBVM and Juliet Mousseau, RSCJ, led us on a journey of reflection on the words of Pope Francis, both encouraging and challenging us during this Year of Consecrated Life. One of the points from Pope Francis' Letter for the Year of Consecrated Life that touched me is: "The question we have to ask ourselves during this Year is if and how we too are to open to being challenged by the Gospel; whether the Gospel is truly the 'manual' for our daily living and the decisions we are called to make."
When I turn my heart and mind to the Scriptures in order to consider the living of religious life today from the perspective of younger Sisters, the concept of Paul as part of a network of co-workers comes to mind.
Paul, as an early Christian missionary, was part of a network of "co-workers" who were busy about the spreading of the good news of the gospel. Timothy (Romans 16:21), Prisca and Aquila (Romans 16:3), Euodia and Syntyche (Philippians 4:2-3), and so many others are also part of the mission network and called co-workers. They were from different places and they traveled frequently (Acts 18:8, 20:4); they were in regular dialogue with one another (2 Corinthians 7:6), and they had a common mission. Spreading the gospel wasn't their only job-Prisca (also known as Priscilla), Aquila, and Paul were tent-makers (Acts 18:3). Prisca and Aquila were also the heads of their own house church (1 Corinthians 16:19), exercised leadership, and served in a teaching capacity (Acts 18:26).
What does it mean, then, for us younger Sisters to allow this model of mission and support to be the manual for our lives? We are certainly working together across distances and will consider our call to cross boundaries at our summer conference in August. It is essential that we younger Sisters are in regular correspondence with one another so that we can effectively embrace our mission. (The co-workers of Paul's day would have been envious of our social media!) We're also quite familiar with the idea of having more than one job or ministry. Which one of us doesn't juggle vocation ministry, our regular ministry, and other organizations and responsibilities? Finally, we are teachers, spiritual leaders, and partners of a shared mission for the gospel in every setting in which we serve.
I gladly look to the network of Giving Voice Sisters to be co-workers and partners in a shared mission across our charisms for the sake of the gospel. Let us continue to ponder what it means for us to allow the gospel to be the manual for our lives.
*Photo: 2015 20s & 30s retreat participants