We continue to share our gifts, knowing that the Holy Spirit is alive
by Sister Nancy Langlois
and Sister Laura Zelten
When Angelo Guiseppe Roncalli was elected Pope John XXIII in 1958, few people realized that this Pope would throw open the windows and let the breath of the Spirit transform the entire Church. For religious communities it was a call to return to the mission and spirit of their Founders.
The Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross responded to this call of the Church during the two sessions of their 1969-70 Renewal Chapter – praying, studying, reflecting and discussing the life and mission of their founders: Father Edward Daems and Sisters Christine Rousseau, Pauline LaPlante, Pius Doyle and Mary Van Lanen. Putting words to the fruits of this Chapter, the Community adopted a mission and charism statement.
However, times and needs in the world, the Church, and the Community changed over the subsequent decades. It became evident that a newly worded statement was necessary to express the continuing mission and charism of the Community. The Revisioning Vocation Ministry, an intentional community of Sisters and Associates, agreed to undertake this task. In 2017, the newly worded mission and charism statement was unanimously adopted by the Community.
Cross, Word, Eucharist
Cross, Word and Eucharist form the foundation of the life of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross. These three foundational elements are lived out and made visible through the ministries of prayer, presence and hospitality. While the words have changed, the charism and mission have remained true to that of our founders.
What is a charism? Charism is a unique gift of the Holy Spirit given to individuals and groups to bring about the mission of Jesus. It is unique – not one for all. It is a gift that draws individuals and groups together for a single purpose. It guides and directs their choices and decisions. Mission and ministry are how the charism is lived out.
The same charism may be given to persons other than members of a religious community. This became obvious as the Sisters began to share life and ministry with others. The result was the forming of the Associate Relationship in 1984. These men and women had been given the same charism as the Sisters and wished to live it out, not only as individuals, but as members of a group.
In 2022, the Revisioning group presented to the Community a directional statement which gave the entire Community a specific focus for its efforts over the next four years. It showed the need to recognize the presence of the charism in all to whom the Holy Spirit had given it and to study how to expand and enhance the living out of that charism. It was unanimously accepted.
Sharing our charism with you
The Revisioning group looked at the various individuals and groups in whom they recognized the presence of the charism. These included parishes and ministries where we had served, our benefactors, families, Associates, neighbors and former Sisters. The Revisioning group then began to study how those who had been given this charism could live it more fully in today’s world.
Some practical steps have been purposed including reaching out to our brothers and sisters on the margins, listening to people’s yearnings, enriching our social media platforms, journeying with others in faith and continue to host retreat events.
Through these actions and others yet to be discovered, the charism and mission of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross will expand and be enhanced and this gift of the Spirit will continue to further the mission of Jesus.