At the beginning of November, I attended the first Conrad N. Hilton Foundation (CNHF) Catholic Sister Initiative (CSI) Strategic Convening as a Giving Voice representative. I was nervous attending the convening but this quickly changed after I read Sister Rosemarie Nassif, SSND (Director CSI) welcome letter, stating “the intention of the gathering is the advancement of the vitality of women religious in their dedication to advance the lives of those who are vulnerable and disadvantaged.”
The convening was an amazing experience of listening and sharing between CNHF staff and representatives from 39 CSI grantees. Groups represented were A Nun’s life, National Catholic Sisters Week, African Sisters Education Collaborative, Catholic Volunteer Network, and the Center for Study of Consecrated life, to name a few. Discussions lead us into what we can do together as partners with CNHF to build a global sisterhood. I am excited to see how GV can partner with some of these grantees. These partnerships will involve GV membership participation. I hope many of you will participate and share your gifts, creativity and vision as opportunities arise. I left the convening filled with appreciation for each grantee and how they each help sisters respond to those in need. I am especially thankful for CNHF for providing this blessed opportunity for Giving Voice.
There was a banner of the late Conrad N. Hilton with a quote of his, “Think Big, Act Big, Dream Big” as part of the environment. Sisters and their efforts kept coming to mind as I read these words. Sisters around the world have done extraordinary things in serving others on the margins. Sisters have been creative, imaginative and visionary. They had to think big, their actions had to be big, and they had to dream big. I see “big” as moving forward in spite of challenges, staying focused on God’s hope, love and possibilities. I think of the great effort and impact sisters made on Education and Hospitals right here in the United States. Mother Teresa of Calcutta ministered to the forgotten, the dying, and now her religious order serves others around the globe. More recently, the Dominican Iraqi Sisters fled their home with thousands of Iraqi people, to escape violence and destruction. These sisters witnessed great hope and provided assistance to their people living in refugee camps while in the midst of their own loss of sisters and homeland. What are the ‘big’ stories of your sisters?
A few months ago, Sisters Tere Maya, CCVI and Sofia Park, SNJM shared with us about crossing boundaries. As young sisters, we are intercultural and are presently living into a global reality. Sister Gabriela Ramirez Espitia, MsHP shared “we are being called to live the present in a dynamic process.” As we live into this dynamic global reality, how are we being called to be creative, imaginative and to dream together for those in need today? Opportunities might be new ministries, new ways of collaboration and new ways of global communication or maybe something else. How and where is the Spirit calling us at this point in time to Think Big, Act Big, and Dream Big?
I am in gratitude for the gift of Giving Voice. As I prepare to move into the season of Advent, I am filled with Hope for what we can do together for the sake of our sisters and brothers who are in need of God’s love, mercy and hope throughout the world.