by Sr Julie Myers, OSF
The strength of community becomes its strongest when the whole body unites together in one spirit. As Sylvania Franciscans we do this in various ways—through our local chapter gatherings, funerals, Assembly, Chapter of Affairs/Elections, and our Jubilee celebrations.
My congregation experienced that strength as we came together for our Assembly gathering last week. It’s a time when we are called back home to our Motherhouse—to unite our spirits and merge our energies, to rejuvenate our common bonds and share our unique stories of life, and to reflect how God has been present on our Emmaus journey of the past year.
The Assembly process also focuses our minds, hearts and spirits in structured conversations, reflection and planning as we open our lives to what God seems to be asking of us through His promise of a future full of hope. This process led us into deeper conversation and planning and will move us into our Chapter of Affairs and Elections which takes place in the spring of 2020.
At the end of the week we gathered as sisters, and with family, for a very prayerful and festive liturgy celebrating our Jubilarians. These eight women together comprise 485 years of vowed life, commitment and service to God’s people. But the most touching moment for me was standing together with my sisters as we renewed our vows of commitment to God in the presence of the Church. It was certainly an experience of the strength of community united in one spirit.
Later in the day there were a few parties to attend and of course I made my rounds. The first gathering I attended was at one of our convents—a party for Sr Sharon White who is celebrating 50 years of profession. I noticed great energy in the conversations, friends connecting and the laughter that seemed to linger in the air. But most unique to it all was a noted gathering of four women in a corner of the living room. Mrs. Rose Kolanko who served 26 years as a school secretary was surrounded by three of the five Principals she served with: Sister Geraldine Paluczak (1973—1979), Sister Sharon White (1973—1979 as teacher and 1979—1984 as principal) and Sister Diana Lynn Eckel (1992—2004). They remembered teachers and students, told hilarious stories, spoke of struggles and transitions, and relished the memories of time spent together.
I was so struck by the different connections and relationships at this party as well as through the many comments and congratulations posted on our social media pages. I became so aware that as women religious, we live out our vowed commitment to the best of our ability, through tough times and amazing experiences, but we rarely realize the power of our presence in the lives of others. We are not necessarily aware of how we impact the people we have touched by our words and deeds, teachings and wisdom, kindness and memories.
So let’s hear it for God who provides the gift of life, gatherings, jubilees, parties, and friendships that create lasting connections. All is gift!