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Directors of Association who met in St. Paul in September 2015. L to R: Joan Pauly Schneider (St. Paul), Mary McKay (Congregational Leadership Team Liaison), Dianne Nelson (Los Angeles), Menche Rojas (Chile), Anne Harpham (Hawaii), Monica Ibarra (Chile) , Peggy Maguire (St. Louis), Marge Mangan (Albany), Kileen Stone (Albany), Kay Komotos (St. Louis), Mary Kaye Medinger (Saint Paul)

by Kay Komotos, CSJA
Co-Director of Association, St. Louis Province 

Directors of Association from throughout the Congregation gathered in St. Paul September 24-27 for their annual meeting with one another and our Congregational liaison, S. Mary McKay.  Reconnecting with our colleagues from Albany, Los Angeles, St. Louis, St. Paul, Chile and Hawaii is an enjoyable, learning and prayerful event, as we share what we are doing in our own provinces.  Our days together were busy as we discussed present issues and future plans that will move us towards progress and unity within our units, as well as with our Congregation.

We started each day with prayer, seeking wisdom and understanding, which set the tone for our commitment to unified mission.  At our first meeting on Thursday evening, our sharing of the heart focused on our hopes for the next few days.  The following morning, we shared what is happening in each of our units.  In response to one of the action items from our last meeting in April, regarding the Congregational Call to Action “Living the CSJ Charism”, the province ACOF units had compiled information in two chart formats to illustrate differences and similarities between Associates (Albany, Los Angeles, St. Louis), Consociates (St. Paul), Ohana (Hawaii), and La Familia de San Jose (Chile).  The Information Chart noted comparisons in the areas of General Participation, Leadership, Orientation, Candidacy, Commitment, Statistics, and Finance.  The Identity and Commitment Chart focused on the Statements on Identity, Commitment, and Renewal of Commitment.  We had both charts in hand at our meeting.

Mary McKay CSJ then gave a report from meetings with CLT/CLG (Congregational Leadership Team and Congregational Leadership Groups).  The Design Team is working on processes to further implement the chapter call for “continued conversations and discernment on oneness and structures”.  The CLG asked for clarification on some of the information found in the information charts and suggested a move to establishing a “core curriculum” or “common outcomes” to promote a more mutual orientation.

Another topic of ACOF interest was continued examination of a Legacy-Resource Center.  With this pooled resource, the community encompassing ACOF, Sisters, and Partners in Mission, would explore best practices and leadership development as a whole, instead of searching for information from each of the provinces/vice provinces.  The Legacy-Resource Center would serve as both a depository of “what did we say” in the past, to visions of the future which would include written material as well as video and spoken pieces.  With a center located at one site, the history of the CSJ’s could serve as a leadership development tool.  At this accessible online site, we would want to include formation materials, core curriculum which would incorporate common values, and focused themes that would be spread to every area of our community.

The ACOF directors discussed how various grants and foundations could be utilized to help strengthen the leadership development as well as the financial responsibilities throughout the provinces/vice-provinces.  We are looking at several models that would bolster the mission and leadership of ACOF, which entails additional consideration of our goals.

With regard to the desire for a possible Carondelet Agregee community, directors will reach out to those individuals who have expressed interest and assist them to be in conversation across units, possibly gathering together in person at some point in the next year or two.

Friday evening was joy-filled!  We and the congregational Vocation Formation group, who were also meeting in St. Paul, attended a dinner in honor of theologian Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ, PhD., along with professors and classmates from the Wisdom Ways Center for Spirituality Hedgerow Initiative.  Singer/songwriter Sara Thomsen added to the festivity.  Dinner was followed by Elizabeth’s stimulating public lecture, “Is God’s Charity Broad Enough for Bears?” based on material from her recent book Ask the Beasts: Darwin and the God of Love.

On Saturday morning, ACOF joined in collaboration with the Vocation Formation group to discuss the following topics:

  • Reflection on Elizabeth Johnson’s presentation
  • Calls to Action, Living the Charism
  • The Legacy/Resource Center and brainstorming ideas on what materials could/should be gathered.
  • Presentation followed by conversation on the CSJ Institute starting at Mount St. Mary’s in Los Angeles.  This initiative is comprehensive in both its’ processes and goals. A follow-up action is to see if the CSJ Institute is open to collaboration with the congregation.  Subcommittees have been formed within the Vocation Formation and ACOF to begin discussion and possible connection with this initiative.
    After a great picnic lunch with locally-sourced food on the beautiful campus of St. Catherine’s University, ACOF reconvened, to discuss the feasibility of hosting a 2017 Carondelet Congregational ACOF Convocation.  The majority of the people who responded to our survey indicated a positive response.  Location is yet to be decided.  Directors are checking on lodging and conference availability for this event.

The afternoon concluded with dialogue on Calls to Action-Living the CSJ Charism related to ACOF Identity and Commitment.  A sub-group of directors was formed to prepare a timeline, a process, a questionnaire, and individual/communal response sheets, which will be shared with ACOF members in all the unit groups.  Once feedback is received, it will be compiled and sent out to all members after May 1, 2016.

Many thanks to our St. Paul Consotiate friends and colleagues who treated us to a delicious potluck that evening!  Later on, a few of us went on a driving tour of Twin Cities highlights led by Jane Pauly-Schneider, tour director extraordinaire!

Sunday morning was a time for prayer, reflection and celebration as we concluded our time together as a memorable time well spent.  Our gratitude goes to our driver, Margaret Brown, CSJ who generously and cheerfully provided transportation to all of us traveling from out of state, and to our Spanish translators, Agatha Grossman, CSJ, Catherine McNamee, CSJ, and Annette and Soraya Handy, Honduran students who attend St. Kate’s, and Kim Munoz.  Thank you!!

How blessed we are to be ACOF (Associates,Consociates,Ohana,Familia de San Jose) and to share the charism of loving unity and the mission of Jesus with one another and the Sisters of St Joseph of Carondelet.

   September 28th, 2015      Posted In: Albany, Congregation, Featured Stories, Hawaii, Los Angeles, Peru, St. Louis, St. Paul