I would like to share an article about one of my ‘firecracker’ sisters. Just one of the amazing women I’m honored and privileged to call ‘my sister’ in our community.
Sr. Rosemary Flanigan has been called “ethics in action” and a “force of nature.” Both monikers have been appropriate for more than 50 years.
As a young nun in the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, she flew with five other sisters from St. Louis, Missouri, to Selma, Alabama, in March 1965 to participate in a voting rights march. Read more….
We are living through extraordinary times. I am reminded of the beginning of Dickens’s book: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. We are facing a pandemic, an economic meltdown, social unrest, violence, and injustice against people of color and against immigrants. As people of faith, we are called to live with an extraordinary commitment to the gospel.
As Sisters of St. Joseph, we are called to reach out to others, whom we call our ‘dear neighbor’. There is no stranger for a Sister of St. Joseph. There are only dear neighbors to whom we reach out in prayer, kindness, and service. We have been asked to wear face coverings. In some regions and organizations, we are mandated to wear masks. We have learned that our masks provide limited protection to the wearer and substantial protection to the dear neighbor whom they encounter. Public health professionals tell us that we are all interconnected. The health of all is interconnected. Public health official echo the charism of the Sisters of St. Joseph: we are all Dear Neighbors. So I am wearing a mask for the dear neighbor.
Stay safe and healthy!
I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. (Is 43:19)
Really new things are both completely obvious and completely unimaginable. So when making something new, God finds it necessary to point it out – really, there’s something new here. See the pathway through the wilderness? See the rivers running in the wasteland? The destruction you feared is not the end of the story. It is merely a transition, a new chapter.
We are building relationships that will sustain us deep into the 21st century. With a firm grip on hope, we celebrate what has been, and we grieve its passing. With deepening confidence, we let our sisters go, one by one, into the great promise of death and resurrection. And we commit ourselves to this new thing that God is doing among us. … but wait, there’s more!
We live in challenging times. News of the coronavirus comes at a time when we are already facing signs of ecosystem collapse in the form of unprecedented weather, fires, floods and natural disasters, along with the attendent threat to key plants and animals that support our own human life on earth. Interlocking systems of oppression keep thousands of refugees camped at our southern border, the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free”. Systems of oppression keep black and brown bodies in jails and prisons, and out of adequate healthcare, education, financial resources and community support. Systems of oppression have whittled down the most diverse field of candidates for the US presidency down to three old white men. Systems of oppression hold the community of faith back from embracing and celebrating all the diversity that is in it, and mobilizing all their energies for community and for mission.
Where do I turn, as a person of faith? What can I do in the face of these overwhelming burdens that threaten the foundations of my faith? I turn to hope. I turn to God. I turn to that image of God that is at the heart of every human life. I turn to the resilience of all God has created. And I confess that it is good. I echo the words of our creator – it is very good! As the landscape gradually comes back to life, I commit to existential hope and say with the scriptures: “Is anything too marvelous for our God?”
I hold fast to this hope, as if holding fast to the hand of God. And I step out as a co-creator with my God and do what must be done.
I participated in a gathering of Sisters. It was a great celebration and an opportunity to connect with other Sisters from around the country and some from outside the US as well. I particularly appreciated the “meetings between the meetings” when some of the younger sisters, in various configurations, gathered to share a common experience and to dream a common future.
Coming back to St. Louis, I gathered with my own community for an opportunity to gather for prayer, conversation, and celebration. Still buoyed up by the earlier experience, this was another opportunity to share community, spirituality, and justice. The vocation team, of which I am a part, gave a presentation about our work. We talked about the current context of vocations in the US. We explained the model we are using to organize the work. I talked about how that model worked in practice in one of the events that we offered for vocations. Then we explained our new vocations website.
I also attended the national assembly of the LCWR, a gathering of sisters from various congregations from around the US. This is another opportunity to meet, share and celebrate.
All these gatherings have their specific focus, yet they are all related to the larger movement of religious life and Gospel living. Last night, I was on a web conference with other younger Sisters of St. Joseph, then some international sisters gathered to share foods from our own culture, to share prayer and conversation. It was creative and a glimpse into the local culture, a glimpse of how the world community could unite in our efforts for a more sustainable world.
So many gifts, so many experiences, so many gatherings, and networks. “All things work together for the good of those God loves,” for the good of each of us.