News and Information

News and Information for members of and people interested in the North American Conference of Associates and Religious.

The face of MaryOur New Year’s liturgy offers us the image of a pensive Mary, pondering in her heart all that had happened. As associates and religious of our various congregations, we are invited to do the same. The trouble and the beauty of the past year have much to reveal to us about the invitations before us, invitations to say yes to God in a world we never could have imagined, let alone chosen.

We enter the new year soberly, anchored in the kind of trust Mary had in a steadfastly faithful and loving God. Like her, we seek to be attentive to the surprising and often confounding invitations: exile, homecoming, returning to ordinary life with no clue to when and how God would accomplish those great promises.

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First Sunday Of Advent WreathOn November 15, my associate group participated in a virtual discernment process. We had been invited to reflect upon a set of key phrases and words that had emerged in response to our 2021 General Chapter theme and logo. As a collection, these words expressed a prophetic way of Being and Doing, and we were to come to a consensus in support of one of them. Although it was not my first choice, by the end of our sharing, I was converted in my thinking, and whole-heartedly agreed with the final selection: Fierce Hope.

Since that conversation, I have found myself listening with new ears and seeing with new eyes. The voices that I hear raised in hope still sound worried that it is all in vain, but I now listen for how they have anchored their hope in practice. I am paying much closer attention to what they do and seeing them act as if they can make a difference. Their hope is not mere optimism. It is not idle. It is active … It is fierce.

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Nativity Scene SilhoutteI was driving last week and my music “shuffle” produced song after song from the Christmas season. “NOT Christmas!” I said aloud, then recalled the words from a prayer to the Blessed Mother that my Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth community began praying in 1858. In part:

… Grant me the vision to see
that the Incarnation is going on in the world today.
Help me to share the Incarnation
by cooperating with Jesus and with you
to prepare the world
to be His new creation …

The Incarnation is occurring, with or without us.

We cooperate in it (and are reborn) -

If we orient ourselves in the direction of hope…
If we remember the wise elders whose stories affirm that disturbance begets new life…
If we call out to God, who never abandons us…
If we remember that we are not alone, that we have the comfort of generous, encouraging companions in this ministry of Associate leadership.

NACAR is an essential part of my confidence and effectiveness as an Associate leader, offering educational opportunities and connecting me to companions and wisdom figures who educate and encourage me. The Member Services Committee has lined up a variety of Creative Conversations and webinars topics we believe will be timely and helpful this fall and next spring. Don’t forget to contact us with your ideas!

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Pennsylvania Winter SunsetThe sun is dawning slowly these days over the Midwest farm fields. It is its usual bright red and today is particularly striking as it contrasts with the white fields… empty now of their grains and covered with an early snowfall. Trees near the house here are heavily laden with the snow. This is much too early for such winter events. Just yesterday the harvesting was being done with great machinery and beautiful fall colors of the orange, red and yellow trees. The empty fields glowed with the golden remnants of the crops.

These quiet times, early in the day, come before the news reports open up to declare the most recent and most striking news of the day… political reports… covid updates… natural disasters and… the world news…

These days I, like so many of you, am looking at all of this from a situation of sheltering in place; social distancing and all that goes with staying healthy and keeping others safe.

The quiet beginning and time for reflection help me to face all of this with a feeling of calmness and purpose.

Staying connected to others is so important to everyone during this time. Our Franciscan congregational leaders have helped sisters and associates who are not located in or near the motherhouse to carry out bi-weekly zoom conversations. The topics of these conversations at this time are usually around racism, white supremacy, and white fragility; all part of our current congregational study.

Though these discussion topics can be heavy in nature, they are important for our time in history. We are all very aware of the recent peaceful demonstrations in so many cities during this past summer. Demonstrators have been very successful in getting the attention of the nation for the issue of racism as it exists in so much of our society, its institutions, and government.

It is indeed time that we all learn to have these discussions in a manner that helps us to look deep into ourselves in order to confront and change the deep-seated attitudes and practices of racism.

God is in these moments of our time. Let us all work with this awareness to change what needs to be changed. Peace to you all.

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Border Fence along highway near San DiegoIn his August 12 General Audience address, Pope Francis said, “The pandemic has highlighted how vulnerable and interconnected we all are. If we do not take care of each other, starting with the least—those who are most affected, including creation—we cannot heal the world.” Everything and everyone is connected as God’s creation.

This year’s LCWR assembly focused on the topic of “God’s Infinite Vision: Our Journey to the Borders and Beyond.” The participants explored the impact of COVID-19 and new understandings of racism on the mission and lives of Catholic sisters. When I reflect on this theme, I wonder what it means for Associates, Affiliates, Companions, Co-members of religious congregations … what is God’s Infinite Vision for our way of life? Do we see borders, or do we look beyond to see how connected we are to one another?

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