“May these days together do for us what every Charity Federation gathering does: reveal and rekindle an aspect of our relationship as women of charity in our world today … together in the Great Work.”
–Sister Mary Beth McCurdy, Congregational Leader,Sisters of Charity of the Immaculate Conception - Charity Federation 2012 Host Congregation
Day 1 – Charity Federation Meeting – Thursday, June 14, 2012 Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada
With these words of welcome, the 2012 meeting of the Charity Federation got underway today in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. Over 100 participants – including leaders and formation personnel – are gathered for brainstorming, receiving reports, sharing stories, and discussing current and future opportunities for collaboration. Theme of the meeting is “Called to Collaborate~Challenged to Commit~ Courageous Charity.”
The day was rich with history that was foundational for discussion that followed. Wednesday began with the story of the Sisters of Charity of the Immaculate Conception (SCIC), this year’s host congregation. Sister Mary Beth McCurdy, SCIC congregational leader, traced the community’s founding from 1854 to the development of its missions in Canada, Peru and Ireland.
Sister Julie Cutter, DC, executive director, gave a snapshot of the Charity Federation’s history. Dating to 1947, the Federation was originally founded to promote the canonization of Elizabeth Ann Seton. Over the years, the Federation evolved to focus on responding to the needs of the day, especially working with persons who are poor; having a global vision; and witnessing and working for systemic change.
The Charity Federation history helped frame discussion based on the following questions probed in small groups:
- What gifts does your congregation bring to the Federation mission and vision?
- How are we collaborating now?
- To what new collaboration are we being called?
Responses to the third question will be the basis of further discussion at Friday’s gathering.
During the day, participants celebrated Liturgy of the Eucharist with Father Don Savoie, pastor, Sainte-Anne-des-Pays-Bas, Fredericton, Canada. They also heard from Paulette Hicks, general manager of the Delta Brunswick Hotel (site of the meeting) who said that her hotel chain is considering signing an industry-wide code of conduct to facilitate protection of children’s rights by the travel and tourism sector and avoidance of human trafficking.
Thursday ended with a report by Sister Caroljean Willie, SC, Charity Federation NGO UN representative. In addition to an overview of her work for the past year, Sister Caroljean gave excerpts from a presentation she made about climate change as a cross-cutting, global issue that violates human rights and destabilizes society. NGO liaisons from the Charity Federation communities met with Sister Caroljean on Tuesday and Wednesday. The liaisons received her report, learned about global concerns and the Federation’s responses, and shared information about congregational and NGO initiatives.
Day two to follow