by Renae Bauer
published June 2017
Words matter. We acknowledge this every time we go to Mass: we listen to Scripture, we profess prayers, and we proclaim songs.
Because words matter, the Sisters have been discerning this past year how their Charism Statement can more closely match today’s realities, especially in regards to who they are in the context of today’s world.
The actual work began four years ago after the Community’s last General Chapter. At that time, a group of Sisters gathered to address vocation ministry. As they read, discussed and brainstormed, they realized the need for a more simple and direct Charism Statement, one that describes the Sisters’ lives today.
The group of Sisters determined that the words “prayer, presence and hospitality” plumbed new depths of the Community’s mission because the words reflected a vision that every Sister could embrace.
PRAYER: The God we meet in prayer is the God who reveals Himself in the poor, the sick, the hungry, the prisoner, the refugee. Prayer is about mission or it is not true prayer.
PRESENCE: By standing with those who are suffering, we bring some comfort and support. As we do, we model what Mary did at the foot of the cross. We, like Mary, might be helpless in changing the reality but we can let the suffering know they are not alone.
HOSPITALITY: How we welcome others into our hearts and tend to their needs is the root of hospitality. This includes our so-called enemies and those we’d rather not welcome. It is given freely.
In March, the proposed Charism statement was presented to the entire Community. The revision trimmed 69 words from the previous statement and added prayer, presence and hospitality.
With feedback from the broader Community, the small group took into consideration some questions and ideas, and followed up with some revisions. The Charism Statement was presented again at General Chapter in June and was approved unanimously.
The new Charism statement reads:
“As Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross, our lives in Community are rooted in the Cross, Word, and Eucharist. Guided by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ, we compassionately respond to the needs of our times through prayer, presence and hospitality.”
Sisters Francis Bangert, Elise Cholewinski, Joanne Goessl, Charlene Hockers, Nancy Langlois and Laura Zelten -- members of the small group that worked on this initiative -- say they believe the Community is just beginning to unpack the meaning of this statement. They believe each Sister will be challenged to see what the statement means in her life and how the statement will bear fruit.
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