Written on: October 5, 2022
Submitted by Sr. Eileen White, gnsh
The Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart gathered virtually through Zoom to reflect together on the meaning and mission of our congregation today and on the meaning and mission of religious life as it is evolving. Sister Mary Jo Nelson, past president of Our Lady of Victory Missionary Sisters (OLVM), led us in our prayerful reflection. Mary Jo invited us to consider a new narrative about religious life, a narrative that is more about being than doing, more about encounter, accompaniment, and relationship than about staffing institutions such as schools and hospitals. We conversed with each other in small breakout groups using several pertinent quotations, including this one from Carmelite Sister Constance FitzGerald, O.C.D.:
The dynamic of being able to yield unconditionally to God’s future is what John of the Cross calls hope. A hope independent of us and our accomplishments (spiritual gifts; ordinary gifts). A hope that can even embrace and work for a future without us.
Mary Jo suggested that, as we become smaller, recognizing the end of religious life as it has been known since the 1940s and 50s, we might consider that God is calling us to be women of solidarity and encounter, prophetic women, grieving for the suffering of our world and expressing hope for many who live in despair. She encouraged us to see that God seems to be calling today’s women and men religious to grow in the ability to live in the present, not in the past or the far off future. Through silence and solitude, we can grow more contemplative, walking with Jesus in the paschal mystery, and witnessing to the possibility of a faithful quest to know God and support and be in communion with each other and with all who look to us for God’s unconditional love.