Seventeen younger Sisters, from different Religious Congregations in the USA, gathered on May 6-8 for a weekend retreat in St. Louis, Missouri. This was made possible by the Hilton Foundation grant that Giving Voice received in 2014. Our gathering happened a few days before 900 other women religious met in Rome for the International Union of Superiors General (UISG). We (Giving Voice network), were happy to be represented by Sister Juliet Mousseau, RSCJ, who along with several other younger Sisters, gave voice to the hopes and excitement in the present and future of religious life.
Personally, I was introduced to the Circle Way Process when I first attended the Giving Voice National Conference in 2010. Thereafter, I have been practicing being part of the circle in other Giving Voice gatherings and now in every Core Team meeting. The practice has provided effective ways for me to listen and to share in the circle while supporting the voices of those present.
All of us arrived at St. Louis with eagerness and anticipation of being together to explore our dreams and visions around religious life. Teresa Posakony, the founder of Emergent Wisdom and a colleague of Peer Spirit Inc., invited us, in a guided leadership skills development, to dream and vision big through the Circle Way Process.
Dreams and visions were reignited and the gathered spirits were moved and pulled in different directions to see the signs of the day. In the midst of dreaming and visioning, deep questions were pondered: What is the vision of religious life now and what is possible? How can we be agents of change in our world? How can we be models of reconciliation and peacemaking?
The ‘Hopi prophecy poem’ that we used throughout the weekend reminded each one of us that, “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for…do not look outside yourself for the leader…the time for the lone wolf is over. Gather yourselves! We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” Yes, the spirit was calling…there was something to be done!
Circle wisdom ideas of what was possible surfaced. Ideas like bringing awareness and advocacy for immigrants and refugees at the border; ways to celebrate, express and share who we are, what we do, and stand for on several social media platforms, ways to do collaborative future projects… just to mention a few. All I can say for now is, stay tuned for what will unfold from that weekend.
It was clear though that to further the developing ideas, projects, and efforts in the months ahead, we need strengthened collaboration, listening, and prayers across the Congregations.
The weekend ended with all of us giving voices to our dreams and inspired actions. Yes, the spirit is calling…there is something to be done…make it happen!
We hugged each other goodbye with Carrie Newcomer’s song on our lips-the Gathering of the Spirit: “Life’s a twinkling that’s for certain, but it’s such a fine thing…how the only things we carry are the things we hold inside, like a day in the open, like the love we won’t forget, like the laughter we started and it hasn’t died down yet. We will take up where we left off when we meet again.”
In our minds and hearts, we know that the Spirit is calling…there is something to be done…we will make it happen!
The current Core Team continues the work that was done by the Core Team before, regarding the Hilton’s grant initiatives. The Hilton grant is to support the new initiatives of Giving Voice network. One of the initiatives is to prepare, through Circle Process training, younger Sisters for effective leadership in their religious Congregations, Ministries, and the Church.
We are grateful for the financial support that we have received over the years from religious communities. Your generosity has sustained and supported the variety of purposes needed to connect younger sisters with each other. We hope that our congregations will continue to support us - financially, in prayer, and in relationships.