Recently, I have begun meeting with a group of sisters within my own congregation to study and propose a revision to our governance structure. As we explore our values with regards to our sisters’ voices and participation, I find myself challenged by a critical question:
How can we operate out of the characteristics of a shared leadership model—self-management, wholeness, and evolutionary purpose?
Since our summer Giving Voice gathering at Iona College, I have returned to my memories of our afternoon work sessions multiple times—my most tangible experience of shared leadership—to help me examine this question. In my memories, I re-experience the feeling of a collective energy of possibility; I picture the spread of tables bustling with women sharing ideas and dreams; I repeat the steps and strategies of the processes in my mind. As the shimmering leaves from summer fall and decay, my spirit knows that the experience of shared leadership with my Giving Voice sisters is one memory not to be let to fade. November is a season of ‘remembering’, and so, I invite you to recount those memories with me in the vignettes below. I also invite you to contribute your visions and experiences of shared leadership.
Morning sharing circles gently pulsing with respectful, contemplative listening
And learning, receiving our peers’ hopes, dreams, challenges, and joys
Desire heard for more collaborative and circular relating
Desire heard to work together, across congregations
Hope reborn for the future of religious life through a cosmic exchange.
Sacred morning exchanges spiritually charging us for afternoons of collaborative movement:
That of pursuing dreams together
Desire igniting initiative
Desire impelling participation
Hosts poised like flickering stars while sisters scoped the outer space of possibility, contributing their own stardust ideas according to the Spirit’s nudge.
Pioneers, diversely gifted andleader-ful, exploring a shared future
While aware of the unraveling; and yet, the expanding sphere of our vocation Desire energized and
Desire invested in developing ‘next steps’.
Reverence plumes during the sacred listening of what each sister shared
Desire revealing insight, making sense of diverse input
Desire inspiring action.
On the final morning of the gathering, during our closing prayer, I found myself looking around, realizing that this was just a beginning, the beginning of our relationship-building, networking, and shared leadership—our communion that will support and inspire us to keep serving the world as women religious. I sat with a deep sense of hope and possibility.
Remembering this experience over again, I reconnect with that hope for all of us.
Sister Lisa M. Perkowski, IHM is a member of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Scranton. She currently teaches high school visual arts at the Academy of the Holy Names in Tampa, Florida and holds over 10 years teaching experience in the fine arts, having taught students of all ages in a variety of education settings. She holds a M.A. in Art Education from the Maryland Institute College of Art and B.A. in Art Education with a minor in Music from Marywood University.