A few weeks ago we flung open the doors and as we welcomed a woman interested in the Sisters of St. Joseph to a weekend of Community, Spirituality and Justice – with the acronym: CSJ. Four of us on the vocation team: Sarah, Clare, Mary and I organized the weekend, with lots of help from other sisters along the way.
We began the weekend by sharing the Friday evening meal with the vocation team and several sisters at the Carondelet. After dinner, we took a tour of the motherhouse which is really a great introduction to who we are and what we’re about. The tour ended in the chapel where we prayed and shared around the notion of call. Our fundamental call to loving relationship, our vocational call to a particular life-calling, and our daily calls to community, spirituality and justice.
On Saturday, we began with a short prayer then moved out to our volunteer sites. The first site was in Dogtown Ecovillage where I live and where we work for community and sustainability in an urban neighborhood. We harvested and braided organic Garlic and we did some maintenance at a native plant garden. Some of us had never harvested garlic before, so it was a new experience of receiving the earth’s abundance that will continue to bless the community for the coming year. After the harvest, we moved on to one of the public native plant installations in the ecovillage to do some maintenance work there, pulling bindweed and johnson grass. Native plants are a great way to build sustainability and restore our ecosystem.
At lunch time, we went to Marian Middle School where Sarah is principal. Kate brought in a wonderful lunch and shared it with us. Well nourished, we headed into the afternoon’s project. Sarah had us cleaning out and organizing one of the supply closets at the school. I had my doubts whether we could make order out of the chaos before the end of the day, but we managed to finish early. We enjoyed the camaraderie of working together and sharing stories of the mission at Marian, and the life of the Sisters of St. Joseph, and life in general.
The group headed back to the motherhouse for a reflection and prayer lead by Ida. Then we all reconvened for pizza and community with Linda, Jean, Nancy and Mary. They welcomed us to their home where we had an opportunity to respond to questions about religious life. Each of us shared from our own perspective and experience, which made for a very rich evening indeed.
Sunday morning we headed out to a parish for mass, followed by a wrap-up session with more conversation, questions, and sharing with the vocation team.
I enjoyed sharing the weekend with our visitor and with the sisters on the vocation team and with other sisters who came in to help out with various parts of the weekend. Over the course of the weekend, four of us on the team wove in and out of the program, depending on our other commitments. We had published the schedule to sisters on the expanded vocation teams to ask their prayers, support and participation. They came forward generously to make the weekend a success for us all.
At the end, the woman who joined us for the weekend said:
I really feel like you opened your home and your lives to me. This is really what I needed for my discernment process.
Let’s pray for all those who are discerning a call to religious life and for all of us who accompany them on the journey.