Sisters Karen Dietz Rochester and Herlinda Ramirez Machado Orange enjoy some Shakespeare in the Park in St. Louis June 2018Two of the three Lifelong Formation Sub-Committees have kicked off their planning processes in preparation for the U.S. Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph 2019-2021 cycle of programming. Each of the three teams were created to address specific future needs identified within the Federation: Welcoming New Members, Enlivening the Charism, and Creating Welcoming Communities.

The design committees are a new approach for the Federation. Instead of asking the committee members to think about implementing the programs, Sr. Patty Johnson — director of the U.S. Federation — tasked each committee member to forget "doing" and to "dream big." The design teams will complete their work in November 2018. Then implementation teams will be set up to offer the programs in various geographic regions and to various audiences.

The Welcoming New Members committee was created to reflect deeply on the needs and hopes of women entering each congregation. Members of the committee were asked to consider new models of community living, including the needs of intergenerational living and expanding diversity. The initial design team is comprised of Sisters Karen Dietz (Rochester), Colleen Gibson (Chestnut Hill), Jeanne Marie Gocha (Albany — Carondelet), Patty Johnson (US Federation Office), and Herlinda Ramirez Machado (Orange).

Sisters Colleen Gibson Chestnut Hill and Jeanne Marie Gocha Albany Carondelet enjoying Romeo and Juliet in St. LouisMeeting for the first time June 12-June 14 in St. Louis, the committee talked intensely about how to make each community "something you can give your life to," as Sr. Colleen described it. This included discussions on how to make more welcoming communities for new, entering members, as well as longstanding members. Part of the discussion shifted to the diversity that new members are bringing to the congregations. Sr. Herlinda talked about her own experience and challenges of integrating her Mexican heritage into community life. Moving forward, the group discussed ensuring that members of congregations felt known and supported in creating vital, intentional communities for all.

Members of the Enlivening the Charism committee met June 27-28 in Kansas City to discuss how to bring a shared and deepening experience of our charism to a wider audience. The initial design team represents a variety of different backgrounds within the federation: agrégées Ann Ashwood (Concordia) and Betsy Wiest (Erie), associate Kathleen Theriot (Congregation of St. Joseph), former St. Joseph Worker Kristen Whitney Daniels (US Federation Office) and Sisters Marcia Allen (Concordia), Natalie Cain (Springfield), Melissa Gernon (Rochester), and Patty Johnson (US Federation Office).

The Enlivening the Charism committee enjoy some authentic grub in Kansas City during their June 2018 meetingThe group initially contemplated what called them to the spirituality and charism of the Sisters of St. Joseph. Many group members discussed how close, personal relationships with the Sisters became a crucial introduction to the charism. After two full days of discussion, the group decided to keep developing the potential resources that were discussed during the meeting. Ultimately, each member of the group will expand on these charism-centered topics and think about a "roadmap" for how these inventive resources can be used in the future.

The third committee, Creating Welcoming Communities, will be holding their initial meeting this summer. This committee is an answer to welcoming the Federation's expanding membership, which in the future will be offered to agrégées, associates, partners in mission, St. Joseph Worker communities, and others who share the charism. Out of this, the Federation has identified three goals for the committee: enliven the charism of hospitality of our hearts; create resources that support member congregations in becoming welcoming communities so that all may be one; build relationships that move us into a future together. The group's participants will again represent the evolving new membership model for the Federation.

Stay tuned in the coming months for more on the decisions and outcomes of these crucial initial design teams.