News and Information

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

Mary and baby Jesus black and white sketch artThe Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God
World Day of Peace
New Year’s Day
January 1st a day of resolutions.

Today, we embark on a year that is sure to be longer than last year’s for it is a leap year—thanks to February 29. In this elongated year, the question is not about duration but about fulfillment. A new year is filled with potential, promise, and unfinished commitments from the year prior. How do we plan to fill our year? And though it may add one more cold day in winter, how lucky are we to have the blessings of an extra day to achieve our promise and potential this year!

At the beginning of the holiday season, we received a note from NACAR Board Chair Jeanne Connolly sharing the paradox in which NACAR found itself in 2019. We have kept promises by enhancing and expanding services like the popular Creative Conversations and The Associate newsletter, while continuing our relationships with the University of Dayton – Virtual Learning Community for Faith Formation (VLCFF), to provide tools for Associate leaders.

In collaboration with Catholics on Call, the Religious Formation Conference, and our regional partners like Ohio and Pennsylvania Associate Leadership (OPAL), Bay Area Conference of Associates and Religious (BACAR), and Midwest Kindred Spirits (MKS), we are able to realize the potential of the Associate movement, to enliven our various charisms for God’s people.

As any organization worth its salt, we also have commitments, including fiduciary commitments which we have been able to make (through your support, and I’m sure the assistance of God’s providence) thus far.

So, at the start of this New Year, we know it’s an important one for NACAR as we move about, discerning our commitments, promises, and potential in a landscape, like the seasons that is ever changing. We hope this is a year of discernment and dialogue, so that with integrity we can assert what promises, potential, and commitments NACAR can make this year and beyond.

We’ve one extra day, and one singular focus: to answer the question, who is NACAR? Let’s start answering that question together. May this year be filled with blessings for each of us in our individual ministries and together as NACAR.

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John Cardinal Henry NewmanThe recent canonization of John Henry Cardinal Newman has me pondering his famous quotation, “In a higher world it is otherwise, but here below to live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.”

Those of us who have been immersed in the unfolding journey of association are keenly aware that we are in a season of change. As God resizes some of our congregations and calls others of them to conscious fulfillment, we find ourselves entrusted with their mission and charisms claiming them as our own in a world desperately in need of them.

What is the change God is inviting us to? At this Advent season, we are reminded that God is about new life. We are to bring to the world the presence of the Christ. Like Mary, we listen to God invitation and trust in God’s promise. Like Elizabeth, we need to be open to the unexpected despite our age. Like Joseph, we need to be attentive to dreams that lure us beyond the law to extravagant love and fidelity.

We have been called at this moment in history to bear the lives of our congregations in new places and new ways. They may be as ordinary as our family and work relationships or as surprising and new as assuming leadership roles in our local groups or inviting and orienting new members. They may invite us to collaborate with associates of other congregations. May we prepare our hearts and minds to welcome the changes has God in store for us and respond generously.

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Sr. Kate Kuenstler of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ, left, seen with St. Joseph Sr. Christine Schenk, receives FutureChurch's Rev. Louis J. Trivison Award in fall 2012. (Courtesy of FutureChurch)It is with great sadness that we share the news that Sister Kate Kuenstler, long time advocate of the laity and the associate movement, passed away. Read more in the Global Sisters Report.

Photo from the Global Sisters Report: Sr. Kate Kuenstler of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ, left, seen with St. Joseph Sr. Christine Schenk, receives FutureChurch's Rev. Louis J. Trivison Award in fall 2012. (Courtesy of FutureChurch)

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Two people walking along a railroad track view from the hips down"If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”—African Proverb

Fr. Bryan Massingale, PhD shared this proverb during his keynote presentation, “Courage for an Interim Time That Does Not Yet Know Its Name” at the 2019 Religious Formation Conference (RFC) Congress last week. His presentation was powerful from beginning to end, but these words were like thunder in my ears.

I wouldn’t have heard him speak had the Religious Formation Conference Board of Directors not welcomed NACAR members to join them in this 2019 Congress. RFC’s invitation was a blessing, a chance for us to go together, further.

At this same meeting, FSPA Affiliate Marci Madary, DMin presented a valuable, two-part seminar on mutuality. I knew it was desirable; I now understand the dynamics of mutuality and why it is a worthy pursuit for collaborators.

 Marci Madary in front of screen with "Moving toward Mutuality" projected on it

Marci Madary, DMin at the 2019 RFC Conference

I can’t imagine being a director of Associates without NACAR. I thrive on the resource sharing, training, and networking; more importantly, NACAR reminds me to raise my eyes, prayers and heart to the “not yet”. Otherwise, I might be occupied with the comparatively easy ‘busy work’ on my desk—so much so—that I don’t have time to be the leader these times call us to be and to dream into the future. I can do this with NACAR’s rich membership, regional communities and encouragement.

Let’s not take it for granted, okay? If you know others who care about associate way of life as a means to carry all manner of charisms to the very ends of the earth—encourage them to be members of NACAR. Who in your community could serve on a NACAR committee or on the Board? As all of us are experiencing crises of finance and human resources to continue our work—so is NACAR. Does it matter? If so, how will you step up?

You can go faster alone. But together, we can go far …

(See more photos of the Religious Formation Conference Congress here!)


A reminder to all Primary Contacts:

We appreciate your help in completing the survey that was sent to you this week. It will help your community and others by giving more complete information for the Community Members Directory on our website.


NACAR Board meets in-person from November 7-9, 2019. Please pray for their safe travels and a successful meeting.


The invitation to join Creative Conversations #15 was emailed. If you did not respond to it and would like to join, watch for another invitation coming soon!

People photo created by pressfoto - www.freepik.com

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