By Sr. Patty Johnson

Five committees have been actively pursuing the decisions made regarding the future of the US Federation of the Sisters of St Joseph. They are looking at our expanded membership and our operations to help us develop a strong and strategic plan for moving forward. Here is a brief update on what they have been doing.

Communications: This committee has almost completed its work. They conducted a survey of leaders and communicators regarding many aspects of Federation communications. They are preparing a report with a combination of big picture and detailed recommendations regarding the audience, content, tools and methods we use. Their report will guide the updating of our communications plan and after review with the Leadership Council; we will set up a timeline for implementation.

Dues Structure Committee: The dues structure committee has had one meeting but decided it needed to begin its work closer to the end of the Membership Expansion Committee’s work. So they have done some preliminary thinking but await more input about what the new membership will mean before they swing into full gear.

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Membership Expansion: This committee is charged with preparing a recommendation for how membership can be expanded to include agrégées, associates, partners in mission, and the St Joseph Worker community. They are brainstorming benefits, roles, and responsibilities for these new members. They began their work by conducting personal interviews with potential new members to see what would encourage them to join the Federation. There was great enthusiasm about belonging to a larger group where they can grow, receive enrichment and make connections. They hope for a sense of community and unity. When it came to actual membership there was less enthusiasm. They reflected that perhaps we need a new model and language to describe how they would belong. The committee reflected that the structure exists to hold the relationship. We need to better define to what they are looking to belong and how to recognize that relationship. This committee is really engaged with this issue. We look forward to a preliminary update on their next steps.

Potential Services to Member Congregations: This committee has distributed a survey to congregation and province leaders and now is in the process of evaluating the data. They will be recommending priority areas where the Federation may provide assistance or act as a clearing house to assist member congregations in connecting with others who have needed expertise.

The Reserved Powers Committee: This committee has developed a set of reserved powers that the Leadership Assembly would retain. Reserved powers are a set of actions that the congregational and province leaders of the Federation can take to ensure the organizational integrity and continuity of the mission and the charism into the future. The leaders have engaged in two consultations on the draft reserved powers. They have been sent to both canon and civil lawyers for review prior to a vote for approval by the Leadership Assembly.

In May the committee chairs from the five committees met and shared the progress you see above. However, the conversation turned into a wonderful brainstorming session when the chairs saw the many intersections of their work and the impact that it will have on the future of the Federation. Over the next few months, some of the committees will be submitting their final reports and we will keep you updated with the results.