“Ever-Evolving Charism of Charity”

by | Jun 3, 2014 | Vincentian Family

sc-federation-logoLeaders of North American congregations in the Sisters of Charity Federation will gather at Mount St. Joseph (OH) this week for their annual meeting, according to a post on the Catholic Beat.

Sixty-three women from North America and guests from South Korea will meet to “explore ways to collaborate to support and effect systemic change” and discuss the Federation’s strategic plan, says a spokesperson for the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, who will host the gathering.

The five-day event’s theme is the “Ever-Evolving Charism of Charity.”

Keynote presentations

Sr. Donna Geernaert of Halifax, NS, will present a talk on “How the Universe Story Relates to and Releases the Energy of Our Charity Federation Charism” and Cincinnati author and consultant Peter Block will speak on “How Systems Thinking Informs Systemic Change.”

The “Universe Story” is an idea popularized by “evolutionary philosopher/mathematical cosmologist” Dr. Brian Swimme and Fordham cultural historian and theologian Fr. Thomas Berry, CP, in their book, The Universe Story: From the Primordial Flaring Forth to the Ecozoic Era, a Celebration of the Unfolding of the Cosmos. It argues that the universe is an interconnected community that continues to evolve, that people are part of that evolution and can influence its direction, and that humanity must develop an “ecospirituality” to harmonize with the universe.

Sr. Donna is Chancellor of Mount St. Vincent University in Halifax. The Congregational Leader for the Sisters of Charity, she is responsible for missions in Canada, the Eastern United States, Bermuda, and Peru. She holds a doctorate in theology from the University of St. Michael’s College, Toronto, has worked extensively on interfaith projects in Canada, and has served on several Vatican councils and assemblies on ecumenism.


Systems Thinking is a management theory created in the 1940s and 50s. Based on the idea that all systems are interrelated and evolve, it proposes that solutions to problems should come from collaboration after considering all system parts, rather than through a hierarchical model. Peter Block’s books and consulting service are based on Systems Thinking and concentrates on “empowerment, stewardship, chosen accountability, and the reconciliation of community” that offers “an alternative to the patriarchal beliefs that dominate our culture,” according to his website.

Block is the first Distinguished Consultant-in-Residence at Xavier University, serves on the boards of several cultural organizations, and one of the founders of A Small Group, an organization dedicated to using his principles for civic engagement.

Both Systems Thinking and conscious evolution have been identified as problematic by officials in Rome. Many American religious congregations, particularly women’s congregations, contend that Roman officials misunderstand the ideas, and that they are crucial for the future of both religious congregations and humanity in general.


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