Realization of shifting temperatures cannot be ignored this morning as I recognize that the first hard frost has settled in our back field. The skies are clear, however, as Sisters of St. Joseph begin to gather at our Motherhouse near Albany, NY for our annual “Community Weekend.” A homecoming of sorts, this event is second only in celebration to our Jubilee Day when we mark incremental anniversaries for individual Sisters of 25 to 80 (yes, sometimes 80) years of service and life together. The theme this event that begins this evening is “Who We Are Called To Be for the World Today.”
Wanting to be sure of the schedule for the event, I picked up the September issue of our community magazine where I knew it had been posted. As I looked through the pages, I couldn’t help stopping to read some of the articles again and see the faces of and obituaries of three Sisters who had died in August – two on the same day. That’s the way it is now; our numbers are fast diminishing, but our work in the world goes on and one could easily say it is flourishing. I read again about the goals of our leadership team for the next two years and the work of two thriving committees. Homeland keeps us aware of all things environmental and challenges us to individual and corporate responsibility toward our Mother Earth as does the Justice Committee toward responsible citizenship.
As I flipped through the pages I was aware of how we have grown over my 52 years in community. The world has changed and so have we in terms of our ministries and the reach of our influence. One of the most profound examples of this shift was highlighted in an article by Sister Patricia St. John about her participation in the 18th International Early Childhood Education Seminar in Israel and the International Society for Music Education World Conference in July. As chair of the Early Childhood Commission for the past two years, Patti welcomed participants to the first conference, an event never before held in an Arab City in Israel. At the second event, As Chair of ISME, Patti presented a paper entitled The cultural contexts of early childhood musical experience: Finding commonalities, honoring differences.
As I finally reached the last pages of the magazine, I saw pictures of some of our retired Sisters and our archivist, readying the contents of our archives to be sent to St. Louis where they will join those of our other provinces. What a story those rooms will tell for the future! And then I smiled at a photo of my favorite college French professor, a brilliant and holy woman of wisdom who inspires me still over all these years.
Who are we called to be in the world today? Just who we’ve always been, I would say. As a Congregation of the great love of God, we do our best, whether in a small town in beautiful Upstate New York or halfway across the world, to be the light that has been passed to us for generations – a light of hope and courage to meet the challenges and opportunities of the world as we find it, day by day.