By: Kristen Whitney Daniels

Leaders discuss their experiences with their tables.The Leadership Assembly met November 4-7, 2018 in Scottsdale, Arizona. While the Leadership Assembly meets annually, this year leaders were asked to immerse themselves in prayer and reflection on the heritage of the Sisters of St. Joseph and our charism, to benefit from the wisdom of their foremothers to guide them in the transformation asked of religious life today. Leaders were also asked to reflect together on the information contained in the 2018 Annual Report and engage in deep dialogue to further see how congregations can assist and accompany one another.

While the leaders were tasked with some lofty purposes, Sr. Mary McGlone (Carondelet-St. Louis) was there to help with the historical perspective. Sr. Mary, author of “Anything of Which a Women is Capable,” accompanied the leaders throughout their time at the assembly, speaking to the group in four different sessions. Following each presentation, this year’s facilitator Sr. Chris Partisano (Carondelet-Albany) helped guide the leaders through a reflection period with each other and with Sr. Mary. Many discussions focused on how the early history of the Sisters of St. Joseph might provide wisdom and guidance to assist in identifying what is essential in religious life today.

Sr. Sharon Euart, RSM, executive director of RCRI, meets with leaders via Zoom.In addition to Sr. Mary’s presentation, the leaders also heard from Sr. Sharon Euart, RSM, director of the Resource Center for Religious Institutes (RCRI). Like Sr. Mary, Sr. Sharon discussed some of the changes and transitions in religious life and what new developments are happening to assist congregations evolve into these changes.

Two significant decisions were decided on at the 2018 Leadership Assembly. Sr. Patty Johnson, executive director of the U.S. Federation, gave a summary on the Expanded Membership, Finance, and Dues Committees. Sr. Patty also presented the recommendation from the Finance and Dues Committees to set dues for congregations for the next five years. The recommendation was unanimously passed.

With dues set for member congregations, leaders moved on to discuss dues for the expanded members of the Federation — associates, agrégées, partners in mission, the St. Joseph Worker community, and others who share the charism as defined by their congregation. In 2017, the Leadership Assembly made the historic decision to open membership to these key groups throughout the Federation. This year the Leadership Assembly voted that membership will be set at $50 a year and the U.S. Federation will begin accepting these memberships in early 2019. The Federation office will be releasing more information about this monumental transition in the coming weeks.

Even Mother Delphine Fontbonne made an appearance at the 2018 Leadership Assembly.Leaders also received plenty of updates from across the U.S. Federation and its’ committees including reports on the Interest Group Committee; the Corporate Voice Statement survey that was sent out to communicators, justice personnel, and leaders; Event 2021; and the 2019 Mother Delphine Fontbonne Bus Pilgrimage. Another update came from the Welcoming New Members Committee, one of the Lifelong Formation’s subcommittees. Sisters Karen Dietz (Rochester) and Jeanne Marie Gocha (Carondelet-Albany) presented the Federation’s new “Survival Kit” — an innovative kit to assist intentional living communities in living out the state of the heart and order of the house. In the new year the kit will be available for purchase from the Federation Office for the cost of shipping or handling. It will also be made available to print at home for free via our member’s only section.

While leaders put in plenty of work during the day, evenings were saved for socializing and fun. One night consisted of popcorn and “Four Women in Black,” a Playhouse 90 episode recounting the trek of the seven sisters to Tucson, Arizona. On Election Night, leaders played Not-So-Trivial-Pursuit with all Sisters of St. Joseph content while watching the election results role in. On the final night, leaders were visited by Mother Delphine Fontbonne, who provided the group with some humor and “insights” from the past, a common theme throughout the leadership assembly.

[Kristen Whitney Daniels is the assistant director of the U.S. Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph]