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North American Conference of Associates and Religious

Message from Conni Dubick, President

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Greetings Edgewalkers, 

Yes, I’m speaking to you, NACAR members and friends of NACAR. 

Edgewalkers book coverAuthor Judi Neal defined Edgewalkers as “people and organizations that take risks, build bridges, and break new ground.”   And she continued: “Organizations are communities of people and the culture and the effectiveness of the organization is based on the shared values and collective consciousness of the members of the organization.  An ‘edgewalker culture’ is one that values innovation, creativity, risk-taking, the unleashing of the human spirit, and living in alignment with values of sustainability, justice, compassion and joy.”  (Neal, Edgewalkers, 2006, Praeger, p. 129)

It was evident to me at the March NACAR Board meeting as we discussed our strategic plan, the ideas and priorities of the various Board Committees and the optimistic brainstorming for future growth/development that indeed our organization was “edgewalking.”  We just had not given a name to our collaborative innovative work!  

As I listened to Board members speak, it was a fact that all of our NACAR activities involve the collaboration with you as Associates and Religious throughout the country who are writing, speaking and making present the living God.  Our content in the online magazine, THE ASSOCIATE; the insights in the Leadership Manual LEAD WITH SPIRIT; your participation in our professional development webinar Rookies Rock; and your feedback in the NACAR membership surveys promote the ‘edgewalker culture’.

I begin this leadership position surrounded with skilled experienced Board officers (Jeanne Connolly, Cathi Duffy, and Kathy Herrington) Board members (Sr. Elizabeth Avalos, Fr. Arthur Carrillo, Peg Madigan, Sr. Catherine McNamee and Jill Poehlman) and administrative staff members (Mary Jo Mersmann, Fred Goddard, Lisa Olson, Tim O’Brien and Sr. Ellen O’Connell).   With them I invite each person to join us in our ‘edgewalker culture’ with your articles, announcements, ideas, feedback and welcomed collaboration.  Board Member Peg Madigan summarized this invitation to you when she quoted Guillaume Apollinaire:  “Come to the edge.’  ‘ We can’t.  We’re afraid.’  ‘Come to the edge.’  ‘We can’t. We will fall!’  ‘ Come to the edge.’  And they came. And he pushed them.  And they flew.”  (Neal, p. 144)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 26 March 2014 15:17

Newly Elected Associates to Serve NACAR

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Cathi Duffy, Conni Dubick, Kathy Herrington and Jeanne Connolly

At the Board of Directors meeting in Chicago, Illinois, March 13 - 15, 2014, four new officers were elected.

Congratulations to: (from left to right in the photo)

Treasurer - Cathi Duffy, Associate of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus
President - Conni Dubick, Associate of the Dominican Sisters of Peace
Secretary - Kathy Herrington, Associate of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary
Vice President - Jeanne Connolly, Covenant Member of the Wheaton Franciscans

We are grateful for their willingness to lead NACAR in its mission to serve, empower and promote the Associate-Religious relationship in North America.

Check out the pictures from the recent NACAR Board meeting on our Facebook page.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 April 2014 23:26

March 2014 Message from Joe Connell, President

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We wish to impart with sadness that Jean Sonnenberg recently passed away.  Jean was very active in the associate movement.  She was one of the founding members of NACAR, and she served many years as the director of associates for the sisters of the Congregation of Bon Secours.  Jean is remembered as a deeply spiritual woman who inspired the associates she coordinated and the sisters with whom she teamed up in their associate leadership.  For more of a remembrance of Jean, please read more here.  She is missed....

Sisters of Saint Martha of Antigonish LogoOn behalf of NACAR, I warmly welcome the Sisters of St. Martha of Antigonish as NACAR's newest congregational member!  The religious (aka The Marthas) and their associates minister in Nova Scotia, Quebec and Alberta.  Their mission-commitment is “... hearing, embracing and responding to the cry for Gospel hospitality.”  Currently, there are approximately 100 Martha Associates and across Canada, and they are members of the Atlantic Regional Congregations Associate Network (ARCAN).  WELCOME!

I invite you to logon to and look for the Associate Population Trends Survey Results (you must be registered and logged in to download the document).  The document thoughtfully and thoroughly exhibits the compiled results of a survey generated by the Membership Services Committee last fall.  Remarkably, 72 representatives of NACAR-member congregations participated in the survey.  The data in the report speaks for itself, and the survey's participants’ comments contribute valuable insights as well.  Understanding that others participated in compilation of data and publishing the document, I would like to acknowledge the leadership of the Membership Services Committee for bringing this project to fruition for our members’ benefit.


Associates Behind Prison Walls

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A Word from Your Editors

This online magazine provides a place to hear the voices of associates/religious in response to other voices. It promotes regional workshops, publications, national survey results and unique associate programs. The Associate increases the impact of our thinking and our living beyond our local activities to a profound presence of good work, insightful thinking and reaching out to the marginalized by sharing all that we are doing in mission with our religious congregations throughout the world. As you read this issue, see how God challenges those who believe in (in Jesus’ words) “to go forth.” Each associate hears the voice and answers the call of evangelization through (their) religious congregations. Join us by reading, reflecting and responding and become a NACAR voice in our magazine.

You wil also see that this issue is in an exciting new and creative format. This is thanks to the work of our new Communications Person, Lisa Olson. We look forward to other innovative developments ahead with Lisa. Logged in users can give us comments to this article and any other aspect of The Associate at the end of the full article. Logged in users will also see a link to The Associate on the right side of the home page.

Associate Conni Dubick, Dominican Sisters of Peace
Sister Elizabeth Avalos, Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Associates Behind Prison Walls

In the spring of 2003, Sister Elizabeth Determan and I, Sister Angela Houska, members of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ, started talking about the possibility of an associate program for the incarcerated. For many years, Sister Elizabeth had been visiting and writing to prisoners in the Oklahoma area. We put together a special correspondence program for the prisoners who wanted to be associates.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 March 2014 14:04

Jean Sonnenberg

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We just received the following news from Amy Kulesa, Director of Associates, Sisters of Bon Secours USA:

Jean SonnenbergIt is with sadness that I write to share that former Director of Bon Secours Associates (1995 - 2006), and one of the founding members of NACAR, Jean Sonnenberg, passed away Saturday afternoon, around 3:30 p.m. She died with her daughter at her side, who was holding her hand and singing Amazing Grace. She received a visit from three Baltimore-area Bon Secours Associates earlier that day. Jean shared so much of her deep spirituality during her many years as Director and treasured the years she served the Associates and Sisters of Bon Secours. In addition, she was instrumental in the founding of NACAR and its early development as a member organization (see NACAR History).

Her daughter has communicated that a memorial service will be held in two weeks or so. As we receive those details we will be sure to pass those on to you.

Please pray for Jean, as she passes into Eternal Life, and for her daughter and extended family and those who mourn her passing from this life.

Cards could be sent to her daughter, Kaiya.

Kaiya Larson
2815 Sagewood Drive
Glenwood  MD  21738

Read Jean's Prayer for a Labyrinth Walk here.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 February 2014 14:18
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