Collaborative Vocation Retreat

Nov 4-6, 2016 in St. Louis, MO

Ever wish you could make a discernment retreat with several communities at once? Now you have the opportunity:
This is a Collaborative Vocation Retreat offered by sisters from many different communities in the Saint Louis Area for young women discerning a call to religious life. Our province vocation team is on the planning committee for this event.

More info is online at:

Two Poems

Today I would like to share two poems with you. One is more reflective. I was  moved one day to write it as I reflected on Community and what it means to me. The other is a fun one about an interest of mine which I am passionate about: Southeastern Conference (college) Football! I wrote it in 2008, and had to update it in 2014 when U. of Missouri and Texas A&M U. joined the conference. Hope you enjoy them! ~Sister Clare


“Celebrating the Treasure” by Mary Southard, CSJ

When you give your Heart Away

It never goes quite as planned.

All of a sudden, one day you realize

You are changed forever.

That a piece of your heart

Has been given away.

But really it was an exchange.

In the sharing of daily life

It happened slowly over time.

As you were sharing stories,

Laughing, praying, cooking,

And doing all those things

That are necessary.

It happened.

Your heart was ripe for sharing

The entire time.

It finally met a match.



Ode to thesec-logo

When the “Famous Maroon” Band begins to play “Hail State”
We seem to know our fate,

It’s that season of the year
When it’s time to cheer
Because SEC Football is here!

Whether you like to hear “Mike the Tiger” Roar
See the Vandy Commodores score
Or watch the Crimson Tide come ashore

It’s time to Cheer
SEC Football is here!

It is fun to go “Hog” Wild
And behold “Hotty Toddy” chanted by every person & child
Our screams of “MIZ-ZOU” or “Gig ‘Em Aggies” are all but mild

It’s time to Cheer
SEC Football is here!

If you like to sing “Rocky Top”
Do the “Gator Chop”
Or preview the newest Kentucky crop

It’s time to cheer
SEC football is here!

If the War Eagle flight gives you a thrill
The call of “Cocky” produces a chill
Or a barking “Uga” creates more power for your will

It’s time to Cheer
SEC football is here!

No matter what team makes you stand proud and tall
I assure you this: Nothing is better in the Fall
Than watching SEC Football!


The Cost of Discipleship

By Mary Flick, CSJ

Last Sunday, the gospel opened with Jesus giving a startling, stark command: hate your parents; hate your family; hate yourself. This does not sound like the Jesus we know! But perhaps the next, unrecorded line from Jesus is, “Now that I have you attention.…” Such a dramatic introduction may be necessary for us to hear the heart of Jesus’ teaching: there is a cost to discipleship.

dsc05537.jpgFor the last several weeks, we have been hearing about that cost: discipleship requires humility, grace, division, courage, readiness. Now we hear the greatest cost: “Carry your cross and come after me.” Even more than the calculating builder or the decisive ruler, the disciple faces an all-or-nothing decision on the road to Jerusalem. Give up comfort; give up your possessions. Life as a follower of Jesus will cost everything.

“Who can conceive what the Lord intends?” These words from the Book of Wisdom may verbalize for us our question as we contemplate the cost of discipleship. But the first reading also tells us what we will be given once we make the choice to follow: wisdom and the Holy Spirit to guide us on the path.

Finally, we see in the second reading the practical cost of discipleship lived out in the life of Paul. He is an “old man” who has given the best years of his life to proclaiming Christ Jesus to the Gentiles. And now he is, quite literally, serving time in a cell as “a prisoner for Christ Jesus.” From this lowly place, Paul asks his friend, Philemon, to renounce his possession, his slave Onesimus. With affection, Paul describes the slave who has been baptized and who sits in prison with him as “my own heart” and “beloved.” Then Paul asks the difficult: he asks Philemon to accept Onesimus back, not as a runaway slave, but as a brother. It’s a radical request in first-century Palestine – and in any time. But it reveals the cost of discipleship in real, human, practical ways: to go against what is acceptable in society, to renounce what is rightfully owned, to see one who is inferior in our social strata as “a man and in the Lord,” to see the person as my equal in God’s eyes.

Do we have what it takes to be a disciple?

What cost is discipleship asking of me these days?

Bring a bag of groceries to Mass next Sunday as a symbol of the cost that I am willing to pay to be a follower of Jesus.

What it Means to be a Saint

mother teresaThis weekend, Mother Teresa was canonized a saint.  Saint Mother Teresa is known world wide for her work serving those who are poor in Calcutta, India.  She founded a religious community, the Missionaries of Charity, that continues her work in areas of need around the globe including here in St. Louis.  The phrase, “I’m no Mother Teresa,” is a commonly used phrase meaning basically that the person is not as selfless and generous as Mother Teresa was.

As the date of canonization drew near, however, criticism abounded.  Some stated that Saint Mother Teresa offered only rudimentary care to patients and could have done more.  Others believe the attention she drew to herself and her fame took away from the greater issues at hand.  Some argued that Saint Mother Teresa’s attention to piety could have been tempered by more relational approaches.

It’s ironic to me that the things Saint Mother Teresa is most known for are also the things most criticized.  Isn’t that always the case?  Our greatest virtues also have a shadow side.  It’s part of being human.

I was at first a bit unsettled by all the critiques wondering if, in fact, canonization was in order.  However, I think it is exactly the reminder we need at this time.  Saints are human, too.  So often we put saints on a pedestal, raising them to some level of holiness we will never attain.  But, the reminders that even the saints have flaws and foibles, suffer from shortcomings and shortsightedness make it possible for me to keep striving for sainthood.  I can be impatient and stubborn.  I can see first what could be rather than celebrating what is.  I am learning to get good at saying, “I’m sorry.”  I am no Mother Teresa, but I do have gifts that God continues to grow in me for the good of God’s plan.  I am far from perfect.  But, Saint Mother Teresa got there.  Why not me?


Our new vocation team (of the Sisters of St. Joseph in St. Louis) had the opportunity to report out to the community the progress of our work after about six months of organizing and doing vocation work. We had four sections of our report.

First we talked about the context of vocation work – the fact that there is significant interest in religious life among young adult Catholics. The infographic here gives some of the data. I believe the message is that there are men and women interested in religious life and they are entering our communities. It is true that fewer are entering religious life and we have many older sisters and brothers. Fifty years ago, there was a sharp decline in those coming, but since that time, there has been a steady stream of people seeking to follow a vocation to religious life. The challenge is how to reach out to these inquirers and engage them in a meaningful formation process. Much has changed and will continue to change as our communities adjust to the demographic shifts. How do we shift our mentalities from thousands or hundreds to dozens? What are the challenges, what are the opportunities that this shift affords? And how do we accomodate the simultaneous cultural shift from boomers to millennials? These are challenges we will continue to face for at least a decade.

Next, we discussed how we have organized our vocation team. The team is comprised of the last four sisters to join the province, the ‘last four in the door’. We bring a great deal of energy and enthusiasm, and a range of skills to the team. We have also invited those sisters in the community who would support vocation work into the process. So we have the four of us at the core of the work, carrying the responsibility for the ministry. Then sisters have volunteered to assist in various ways, or have made themselves available for whatever ways they could help out. That is the expanded team. We will reach out to them regularly with information and updates, as well as inviting them to help with various vocation events. We feel supported and encouraged by these sisters, many of whom have been involved in vocation and formation work in the past. Thank God for the blessings of community.

This team came into play in our recent MORE weekend – when we invited young women to share our life for a weekend. Various sisters assisted with welcoming and meals, and they joined us for volunteer ministry, prayer and conversation. It really gave us the opportunity to showcase our community. One of the comments we got was that “you all seem to respect and enjoy one another’s company.” Yes we do! And it is a gift to be reminded of that by our visitors.

site-logoFinally, we officially launched our vocations website: One of our early projects was to enhance our social media presence and to set up a web presence dedicated to vocations. We can use it as a platform to showcase the community, vocation events and discernment resources. We have a blog and the four of us are taking turns posting. We are also on twitter @csjlifeconnect, on Facebook, on instagram, etc. So there are multiple ways to connect and to extend our reach. We can also continue to build relationships with those who are seeking more information about life as a Sister of St. Joseph.

And so let’s add one more layer of vocation team: please pray and support us in this important ministry. Pass our information on to someone you think might be interested, or might make a good Sister of St. Joseph some day. Pray for all of those discerning a vocation and those of us who assist in their journey.