In preparation for the formal dissolution of NACAR, the Board of Directors was asked to share some ideas on “what we have learned” in working with and for Charism Carriers. The following are some of our thoughts and shared learning.
The importance of:
Sharing the spirit of the congregation:
Associate leadership (by whatever name) is not about “recruiting” or “marketing” for more Associates; this ministry is about collaborating with the Spirit of God to awaken in other charism carriers the call and gift of their charism for the good of the world. Formal belonging as an Associate is one of many ways to share the congregation’s spirit.
Building collaborative relationships:
Within your congregation, particularly with staff in Communications, Liturgy, Formation, and Spirituality. Help one another in sharing the spirit and mission of your community.
Outside of your congregation – other Associate directors within the same charism family, regional groups of Associates/Associate leaders, other organizations committed to
Encouraging the involvement of others.
Invite your Sisters and Associates for feedback on their desired way of sharing time and talent.
Make a list of Associates’ and Sisters’ gifts and call upon them to use them.
Focusing on Mutuality
The Associate way of life is in relationship with and through vowed religious communities. Take time to read and share materials from LCWR, Charism families, Global Sisters Report, and similar groups so that you understand and appreciate the movements/energies/insights that emanate from the materials.
Have parallel conversations with charism carriers. What is happening in vowed religious life impacts the movement of charism carriers.
Being intentional in the use of language
Be intentional and careful in using language that distinguishes the Associate Way of Life from other expressions of belonging. For example, Associates do not “take vows.”
Take time to understand that each congregation has its way of expressing its charism, and there is no “right or wrong” way of expressing God’s love.
No one walks the spiritual journey alone; remember to affirm and support those walking humbly with you.
In the Spirit of Synodality
NACAR also strived to model Synodality – an experience of journeying together with and for Charism Carriers for the sake of the church and the world. As Pope Francis stated,
“We recall that the purpose of the Synod is not to produce documents, but to plant dreams, draw forth prophecies and visions, allow hope to flourish, inspire trust, bind up wounds, weave together relationships, awaken a dawn of hope, learn from one another and create a bright resourcefulness that will enlighten minds, warm hearts, give strength to our hands.
We did this by integrating Communion, Participation, and Mission in our reflection and praxis.
Animating a shared vision based on well-informed belief statements
Walking the path together and keeping others aware of the associate movement
Maintaining connections with organizations that serve religious life
Supporting Regional groups
Listening through Creative Conversations and open communication links
Being flexible; growing, adjusting, and evolving as times changed
Modeling language and structures that effectively communicate associate life
Binding up wounds by sharing the struggle to live mission at conferences, retreats, and webinars
Becoming community through networking and shared events
Acknowledging and celebrating the diversity of needs within regional, national, and international contexts
Discerning together ways to honor while letting go
Celebrating the many gifts of the one Spirit
Always enlivened by that same Spirit
“May Christ be with your spirit. Grace be with you.”
2 Timothy 4:22 (The Inclusive Bible)