Sr. Karen Dietz presented the highlights of the Structures Report On June 10, 2016 we announced the beginning of an organizational audit for the US Federation of the Sisters   of  St Joseph. We asked our sisters, associates, agrégées, partners in mission and others who share the   charism for their input to help imagine our future together. After many surveys, focus groups, written reports,   and  recommendations, the Leadership Assembly composed of elected leaders of member congregations came   together in November to make decisions and propose next steps.

 Over the next few weeks we will share the significant bold steps for the future that have been decided and the   processes that will lead to implementation.

  1.    1.  Expanding Membership
  2.   2.   A New Way of Governing
  3.   3.   Finances and Staffing

 “How can the Federation become an effective collaborating and visioning force helping its member   Congregations to embrace a vibrant future, nurturing the mission and charism and promoting life-giving relationships? … There is an urgent need for the Federation to restructure and reconstitute itself as a more flexible entity that will meet present and future challenges. This reconstitution will require a shift toward fuller participation of the members in order to harness the relational power that will propel us into the future.”

-- Synthesis Report, Federation Organizational Audit

The Synthesis Report challenged the Structures Group as they proposed a new structure for the Federation.

“The Federation is the focal point, the gatherer of CSSJ Communities of St. Joseph. The time is now to find a way to offer full participation to all who share the charism and desire a way to become more involved in the mission and purpose of the US Federation. … Decision-making and priority setting needs to be done in a structure that hears the voices of all those who share the charism.”

-- Structures Report, Federation Organizational Audit

Sr. Sean Peters presented the highlights of the Synthesis Report to the Leadership AssemblyLEADERSHIP COUNCIL

After careful consideration of these organizational audit reports, the Leadership Assembly approved a new structure for the Federation Leadership Council. Since 2002, all 12 members of the council have been elected leaders of member congregations. In this new structure, the Leadership Council will still consist of twelve members, but with a more diverse composition to reflect our newly expanded membership:

  • Four elected leaders of member congregations
  • Two sisters chosen from the youngest 7% of vowed membership
  • Three representatives from Federation committees or interest groups
  • Three members who are lay partners, associates, agrégées or St. Joseph Workers
  • and the non-voting treasurer and appropriate staff. 

As with all governance structures, this new council structure cannot be fully understood until all the details are worked out. Therefore, leaders are forming working groups to flesh out the approved framework for the new governance structure.


The Leadership Assembly will continue to be the annual meeting of elected leaders of congregations and provinces, although with a different focus. The restructuring framework envisions the Leadership Assembly shifting more of its focus to facilitating and supporting the sharing of resources and expertise among member congregations and institutions and possibly exploring the development of collaborative governance models. The Assembly would also retain certain reserved powers for the US Federation. A group of current and former elected leaders of member congregations and provinces will develop a written set of proposed reserved powers and a justification for their recommendations that will be sent to the Leadership Assembly for a vote in June 2018. Consultation through regional meetings of leaders will also be held.


After the reserved powers are approved by the Leadership Assembly, another working group will begin to define recommendations for the roles and responsibilities of the Leadership Council and the Leadership Assembly, including:

  • A process for Leadership Council elections, if they are deemed necessary
  • A definition of relationships between the Leadership Assembly and the Leadership Council
  • Wording for revised bylaws and canonical statutes
  • A new organizational chart, including a clear reporting and evaluation structure for the Executive Director and any appropriate position descriptions.

These recommendations will outline the connections and relationships of the two governing structures. Their recommendations will help to ensure that the expanded membership will have their voice heard, perhaps through a periodic gathering or delegated assembly of the membership.

“Stimulated by the Holy Spirit and receptive to God’s inspirations….” These opening words from the Consensus Statement of the Sisters of St. Joseph echoed through the reexamination of the Federation structures. The work of the organizational audit, the many volunteer committees, and the Leadership Assembly surely were stimulated and receptive to God’s inspirations. These new structures respond to the urgency of our times and offer us a more flexible way to meet present and future challenges.