“The Charity Charism in our genes, in our DNA – in our innermost being – allows us to see and perceive the world differently … Our lens and focus are always courageous charity … Perhaps it is time for us to borrow that phrase [from Star Trek] “to go boldly where no one has gone before.”  –Sister JoAnn Bonauro, SC-H (presented by Sister Maryanne Ruzzo, SC-H)

Day 2 – Charity Federation Meeting – Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada Friday, June 15, 2012

Friday opened with Liturgy of the Eucharist celebrated with Father Kevin Barry, pastor, St. Alphonsus and St. Anthony. “The heart of Jesus embraces us all,” Father Barry reminded the gathering in his homily. Sister Peg Johnson, SC-L, planning committee member, was chairperson of the day for the meeting.

 In the absence of Sister JoAnn Bonauro, SC-H, due to health problems, Sister Maryanne Ruzzo, SC-H, gave her keynote presentation. Centered on the theme of the meeting, Sister JoAnn discussed the magnetic pull of the charity charism to mission. “We have never been ‘passive’ spectators, have we?” she wrote. “No, we are ‘take charge’ daughters of Vincent and Louise.”

 Sister JoAnn encouraged the group to recognize that our congregations are much more than what shows up on graphs and in statistics. Waiting for and wanting new members to join are important, but having a present and future lens grounded in the courageous charity tradition also means “focusing on how we … plan to keep the charity charism alive and growing in our world.”

 Interrelated with the charity charism, and by virtue of our baptism, is having what Sister JoAnn called a “Kingdom vision.” This vision is all inclusive and expansive. It also helps determine where we put our energy, time, talent and resources. Choosing to answer the call of collaboration and living toward our vision require that we be what Sister JoAnn described as “radical and passionate dreamers and creative implementers.”

 Following the keynote presentation, a panel of responders offered their perspectives on the question: “What does it mean to you for us to commit to collaborate as the Sisters of Charity Federation as we live now and into the future?” Responders included Sister Celine Belliveau, NDSC; Peggy Cekoric, Associate Director of SC-NY; Sister Ellen Dauwer, SC-NJ, and Sister Janet Gildea, SC-C.

 Peggy outlined the ways Associates across the Federation have collaborated and a list of future possibilities. Sister Celine observed that building relationships within the Federation is the best way to keep the charity charism alive. Sister Ellen asked the question, “Where is God asking us to go?” related to the current situation involving the LCWR, the National Religious Vocation Conference and the House of Charity. Sister Janet highlighted the challenges and growing commitment of members of the Company of Charity Formation Personnel (CCFP) to promote and invite vocations to the charity charism  rather than any one particular member congregation.

 CCFP includes Sisters in vocation and formation ministries as well as Sisters and laypersons who work with Associates and volunteers. CCFP is a collaborative group affiliated with the Federation. As they are doing this week in New Brunswick, members of CCFP meet every four years with leadership for the Charity Federation meeting.

Sister Chris Partisano, CSJ, facilitator for the meeting, invited participants to discuss the same question probed by the panel of responders to the keynote and to focus on the words “commit to collaborate.” Highlights from table discussion were shared with the large group. Sister Julie Cutter, DC, Charity Federation Executive Director, described the process of development of the draft 2012-2017 Strategic Plan by the Federation Board.

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