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Along this paschal journey: A reflection for religious institutes

May 13, 2020 Article 2 min read
Sister Mary Pellegrino Plante Moran Realpoint

This moment is an opportunity for leaders to help their members make meaning of this time and engage their members in deeper conversations about the future of the mission and charism of their institute in a post-pandemic world.

Light shining through stained glass on a crucifix in a church

Whether we have spoken with you recently, “seen” you on Zoom, or simply corresponded via email with you, your health and safety, and that of your sisters and those who care for them, are not far from our minds and hearts during this extraordinary time for our world. We share those urgent concerns and want to support you in all of these efforts.

We know that you are the “first responders” to your sisters’ fears and anxieties and often to those of your close colleagues and collaborators and perhaps to those of family members, as well. We know the challenges of tending to your own needs even as you tend to the needs of others. The circumstances of social distancing and the isolation that it causes place an additional strain on you in that regard.

We know, too, that the grief of the world compounds the grief that we each carry over personal losses and over the communal grief, often unrecognized and unnamed, that you and your sisters hold as a religious community.

We also know that together we will get through this time … and we will be changed. When the travel restrictions are lifted and the social distancing requirements are relaxed, when we can worship in local churches again and your motherhouses or provincial houses can freely welcome your neighbors and guests, when we can embrace a loved one and eat with a friend, we will do so in a very different world than we once knew.

It is to that different world and to the concerns that you may hold for and about it to which we have been turning our attention recently. We are doing this so we can serve you better as you navigate your planning and other significant considerations for the future of your institute, in the midst of the impacts of this global crisis.

In his extraordinary Urbiet Orbiblessing (March 27, 2020) from a damp, darkening and empty St. Peter’s Square, with rain falling throughout, Pope Francis called those of all faiths and no faith at all to “… seize this time of trial as a time of choosing … a time to choose what matters and what passes away, a time to separate what is necessary from what is not.”

To look to the future, choosing what matters and what passes away, is difficult enough under the best of circumstances, but in the midst of a global crisis, it seems like an elusive prize. Where do we even begin?

We have been reflecting on Pope Francis’ call and believe that he and these times are calling us all to deep discernment, not only about what matters and what passes away, but also about how to separate what is necessary from what is not.

We believe that this type of choosing begins with finding meaning in this moment and all that is being brought to light about the interconnectedness of all of life, the fragile and precarious world order, and our part in all of it. This type of choosing begins with contemplative practice and deep discernment about the ways in which your mission, charism, and resources can best serve and will be most needed in a post-pandemic world.

Please know that our prayers and thoughts are with you during these uncertain times. Please reach out to let us know how we can help.

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