The Life Long Formation Committee L to R front Linda Mary Louise Sue Ann Patty Rosie Mary Charlene in backMeeting in Seal Beach California for 5 days gave the Life Long Formation Committee the time to delve deeper into the formation needs of the US Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph. High on our agenda was the implementation of the Unified Vision for Life Long Formation, (UVLLF) which was approved at the 2017 Leadership Assembly. This vision will include the provision of a menu of services, programs and supports that congregations and provinces can choose to access. 

The committee prioritized the items that they thought should get attention first, methodologies for delivering programs, and ensured that every stage of formation would have programming, resources, and supports over the next 18 months.  They also began work on a tool to evaluate the effectiveness of our efforts to implement the UVLLF.  We want to ensure that we are offering the programs that people want and need at times and venues that work for them.

Another relatively new member Sr. Rosie Hefner Congregation of St. JosephOur most creative new efforts involves developing three new programs and appointing the committees who can assist the US Federation in creating these programs. 

The first is called “Creating Welcoming Communities” and its goal will be to help us enter this new era of expanded Federation membership with Agrégées, Associates, Partners in Mission, St. Joseph Worker Communities and others who share the charism.  This historic move calls us to create a new climate. The goals of this program will be to enliven the charism of hospitality of our hearts, create programs, resources, and supports to enable members of congregations to embrace the dream of welcoming and building relationships of mutuality that move us into a future together.

The second new program is entitled “Enlivening the Charism.”  Although it will be offered in different formats, this program harkens back to the very popular “Life Programs” offered previously by the US Federation.  Being developed by Agrégées, Associates and Sisters of different age cohorts/years in religious life, they will develop programs that will build relationships of mutuality that move us into a future together.

The third new program is entitled, “Welcoming New Members. This program and set of resources will assist congregations and provinces in developing vital local communities for candidates for religious life and newer sisters. 

Agregee Sister Ann Ashwood Concordia left and Rochester SSJ Mary Louise Heffernan rightOur hope will be to offer many programs using a variety of methods.  Some will be programs offered at a specific physical location; some will be “Train the Trainer” programs so that people prepared with materials and know-how can return to their congregations and offer programs; some will be webinars and videos available on our website, some might be study guides that could be used by local communities, clusters, associates and agrégées, with simple facilitation.  Click here to see our program offerings.

The LLFC considered how to respond to a request for mentors for current novice directors. It generated opportunities where services might be helpful. The Federation Office is in the process of developing a list of people who might be available to serve as a Formation Coach for those who are new to Formation and would benefit by having a one-to-one mentor.  This will be a fee for service program where the Federation will be suggesting qualified people and providing their contact information and fee schedule to Vocation and Formation Staff, for their use if they so desired. 

We also hope to start an online peer group for current novice directors where they can have open discussions on topics they are thinking about.  (This would not be peer supervision). The Federation Office will provide a convener

The LLFC did a review of the resource library on the Federation Website and agreed on a new way that they hope will be more user friendly for organizing the resources. 

Members of the Life Long Formation Committee are: Ann Ashwood (Agrégée Sister Concordia) Sr. Charlene Diorka (Philadelphia), Linda Kuhn (Associate- Erie), Sr. Mary Louis Heffernan, (Rochester), Sr. Mary Rowell (Canadian Federation), Sr. Rosie Hefner (Congregation of St. Joseph) and Sr. Sue Dunning.  They have active subcommittees who assist them which are essential to the work they do.