by Sister Mary Kabat
A General Chapter is a collegial assembly which exercises the highest authority in a religious community. It is held to elect the community leadership and make decisions for the community's life and ministry. Held every four years, our General Chapter has two parts: the Chapter of Elections and the Chapter of Affairs.
Chapter of Elections
The theme for our Chapter of Elections is expressed in the words of St. Clare of Assisi. In her letter to Agnes of Prague, St. Clare invited Agnes to gaze upon, consider, contemplate and imitate our Lord Jesus.
Nov. 17, 2012 -- Gaze: Our discernment process for the Chapter of Elections officially began Nov. 17, 2012. We gathered with our facilitator, Sister Marlene Weinsenbeck, a Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration in La Crosse. Our focus was to Gaze. Our day opened with Mass celebrated by Abbot Gary Neville, O. Praem. We sang David Haas' Send Us Your Spirit, ("Come to us, Spirit of God, breathe in us now,… Spirit of hope and of light, fill our lives.")
Sister Marlene led us through the essential elements of Franciscan discernment: an attitude of humble servanthood, an awareness of one's personal poverty and an awareness that one is in a world much bigger than oneself. Our Leadership Team of Sister Donna Koch, President; Sister Sally Ann Brickner, Vice President; and Sister Jane Riha, Vice President; shared their experience of serving the Community these past years.
We were sent to continue the discernment and nomination process in a spirit of prayerfulness, humility, freedom and detachment. We submitted nomination forms inviting Sisters to consider serving the Community in the next four years and stated the qualities for leadership that we see them living out in community life and ministry.
Jan. 11, 2013 - Consider: Our time to Consider, pray and discern together continued on Friday with our facilitator, Sister Marlene Weinsenbeck.
Jan. 12, 2013 - Contemplate: The Rev. Steve Vanden Boogard, O. Praem., celebrated Mass. Open to Contemplate, we prayed, discerned, and conversed throughout the day, and concluded with Eucharistic Adoration.
Jan. 13, 2013 - Imitate: Desiring to Imitate Christ in all we do and decide together, Sunday morning we gathered in our Motherhouse Chapel for the election of our Leadership Team. The Most Rev. David Ricken, our diocesan bishop, presided over the election. He will install the newly elected Leadership Team during a special ceremony on June 20.
The Comunity's Chapter of Affairs will be June 10 to 13.