By Sister Nancy Linenkugel, OSF
The word “centennial” is only worth 12 points in Scrabble unless it’s on a premium spot on the board because the letter “c” is worth three points but all the other letters are worth only one point each. However, spelling it “zentennial” would garner 19 points and spelling it “xentennial” would garner 17 points. Would those work? Not if you’re playing with educated Sylvania Franciscans who don’t miss anything.
“There are about as many women religious in the U.S. now as there were a hundred years ago.” (David Gibson, Religion News Service, 10-13-14).
If the Sylvania Franciscans fit with that comment, Mother Adelaide and her small band of pioneer Sisters who established our Sylvania congregation on December 8, 1916 operated in a world that was as normal to them as our world today is to us.
We can peer back into 1916 and see that the USA agreed to join in World War I efforts. World figures at that time included: Lenin, Tsar Nicolas II, Manfred von Richthofen (the Red Baron), Rasputin, Pancho Villa, General John “Black Jack” Pershing, Albert Einstein, and U.S. President Woodrow Wilson. Although the Olympic Games were cancelled due to WWI, then-Pope Benedict XV did his best to influence the world for peace and social justice.
Inventions in 1916 included: the Tommy gun (the Thompson submachine gun, famous during the Prohibition era and used by law enforcement and criminals alike), stainless steel, the radio tuner, and the electric refrigerator. Mr. Peanut and processed cheese debuted. A Ford Model T car sold for $360, or equivalent to $2,800 in today’s money. Daylight Savings Time originated and the National Park Service began.
In this, our Centennial year as a Congregation, we are surrounded by our own world figures, like Vladimir Putin, Angela Merkel, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, David Cameron, and U.S. President Barack Obama. Pope Francis, who replaced Benedict XVI in 2013 as pope, is himself a popular world figure.
We face ongoing military conflicts in a number of hotspots around the globe due to power, drugs, arms, religious fanaticism, and territorial expansion issues in the Middle East, Korea, Africa, and Pakistan, to name a few locales. Today we are mesmerized by increasingly powerful phones and “smart” handheld devices, by medical breakthroughs with robotic surgeries, by disease-research cures, and by 3D printing.
Instead of Mr. Peanut we have Yellow, Red, Green, and Brown, the M&M’s characters. On TV Flo is selling Progressive Insurance and there’s no shortage of pharmaceutical commercials touting the benefits of medications like Crestor (cholesterol), Abilify (depression), Victoza (diabetes), Celebrex (arthritis) or Lipitor (heart disease) – all sights unseen in the pre-television days of 1916.
The average price of a Ford car today is $16,000-$20,000. Daylight Savings Time continues. The next Olympics will be the Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in August 2016.
Our world as Sylvania Franciscans is much the same today as it was 100 years ago, give or take a few inventions and advancements and personalities. There are still persons in need of education, healthcare, social services, religious formation, and prayer. Our Sisters are still very much needed in society. I think that Mother Adelaide would be fully immersed in today’s world and not an onlooker, complete with her own computer and iPhone. The question is: So how can each of us follow her example and best pioneer the second century for our Congregation?