This is a place where we can come together and really bond over our love for Jesus, our care for the Gospel, our care for the poor and our own experiences of being a sister as a younger woman,” Sister Susan said. “We get to talk about the longer future, and to build, to dream and to listen to what the Holy Spirit is calling forth for religious life in the future.
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Last week I attended the national Giving Voice gathering with 75 other newer women religious who, like me, know that we don't know what lies ahead. Then I made a retreat with the five other women who have made vows as Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace in the past 10 years. My heart is filled with the energy each of these women has for religious life, their commitment to be part of communities for mission, their deep love of God, and the joy we share in this life.
It gives me an opportunity to kind of dream big about the future of religious life. I am able to bring those dreams home and share them with my own community... The more we talked to people, the more there was a felt need for the younger women religious to invite everybody into a dialogue says Sister Belinda Monahan.
Our founders and foundresses migrated, learned new languages, overcame persecution and physical obstacles, preached the truth with love in places their words were not welcome, modeled nonviolence and touched the "untouchable" of their day. Yet just as this moment calls us beyond the bridges we've known, evolving understanding calls us to shift from fear to love with a level of awareness never before possible. The world needs us for this.
Whether near or far, we commit ourselves to the work of relationship, trusting our own hearts and all they hold to the heart of God. In that trust, we live to love and learn to love more deeply. We do not journey alone, nor should we. We carry the communion of community within us, coming to the feast together, sustained by God and by one another so that, no matter who or what we encounter, all might be united in the love of God, sustained by the Spirit and at home in their hearts and the world.
We are here gathering spirits, weaving hearts, sharing energy and fire.
We desire to carry hope and light in the darkness, care for humanity and all creation, be God’s love, mercy, justice, hands, feet, ears, and voice.
I was recently blessed to participate in a Peer Spirit Circle conversation (by zoom video conference) with a small group of sisters from Giving Voice, an organization for younger women religious. The topic of conversation was how to face our fears and move to a response of love and building bridges in today’s world. We discussed how differences and conflicts are present within our own religious communities, neighborhoods, and at our country’s border. These are examples of places where fear, hurt and injustice exist and where a loving presence is needed.
In our current social and political climate, I think it is important to stop and reflect on two values that are important to building healthy relationships and stem from the core of what religious life is all about: community and contemplation. These are not unique to Christianity but are found among all the world religions.
Below is an excerpt I wrote for a planning retreat at my ministry site, the Eco-Justice Center sponsored by the Racine Dominicans.