By: Kristen Whitney Daniels

The Lifelong Formation Committee discusses programs for the next year.

The Lifelong Formation Committee (LLFC) convened Jan. 14-17 in Rochester to have their annual face-to-face meeting. The meeting focused on the completion of several new integral documents and planning for the critical formation needs of our agrégées, associates, and sisters.

The meeting began by introducing the LLFC’s newest member, Sr. Joannie Cassidy (Philadelphia), to the rest of the group. Sr. Joannie is joined on the committee by Ann Ashwood (Concordia-agrégée), Sr. Sue Dunning (Orange), Sr. Mary Louise Heffernan (Rochester), Sr. Rosie Hefner (Congregation of St. Joseph), Linda Kuhn (Erie-associate), and Sr. Mary Rowell (Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada). U.S. Federation staff members Sr. Patty Johnson and Kristen Whitney Daniels also participated in the meeting.

A portion of the meeting was devoted to finalizing documents that will become available to the entire Federation in 2019. Handbooks on formation for associates and agrégées are in the final stages of editing and are expected to be released by this spring. Another handbook regarding the initial formation for sisters is expected to be released at a similar time.

The Skills Needed and Behavioral Indicators of Readiness in Stages of Formation was updated and revised. It was decided that the lengthy document name would also be updated —it will now be referred to simply as the Readiness Indicators for Initial Formation, or RIIF for short. This document will be released in the next few months and outlines important best practices for skills and behaviors in the various stages of formation that agrégées, associates, and sisters participate in.

A “Survival Kit,” a resource produced by the Welcoming New Members LLFC sub-committee, is awaiting a few more pieces before completion. This resource will be available to all communities but is specifically geared towards communities that are welcoming in new members, candidates, novices, and others in formation. Once the Survival Kit is made available, people will be able to download the materials from the Federation website. Members can also request the Federation to send the materials to them for a nominal fee to cover the costs of shipping and materials.

In addition to work on these critical documents, the committee planned out the ongoing formation programming that the Federation will be offering in the next few years. In the next two years, the Federation will offer workshops for candidates on cultural diversity and conflict management, the vows of women religious, the U.S. history of the Sisters of St. Joseph, and discernment. During the non-canonical novitiate year, the Federation will also offer a variety of workshops. The Federation is expecting to offer several workshops for novices in their non-canonical novitiate year, as well as resources for their local communities to utilize. For those in temporary commitment, the Federation will offer similar but separate workshops and resources.

Members of the Lifelong Formation Committee meets with the Federation novitiate directors in Rochester.

The LLFC also reaffirmed the need for ongoing formation for agrégées, associates, and sisters within the Federation. In February, Sr. Melinda Pellerin (Springfield) will host “Sisters and Brothers Among Us,” a day-long workshop in St. Louis exploring the history, heritage and the gifts of African-Americans in the Catholic Church in America. The Federation will also be hosting the Mother Delphine Fontbonne Bus Tour in May 2019. The tour will take participants from St. Louis to Philadelphia to Toronto, with Sr. Mary McGlone (Carondelet-St. Louis) giving behind the scene details of the Sisters of St. Joseph’s U.S. History. Stay tuned, as registration for that event will open in February.

The LLFC discussed additional resources for ongoing formation and are expected to be announced in the next year. The Federation will also continue to offer support for formation ministers, expanding the support groups to meet the continuing needs of Federation formators.

On the final day of the committee meeting, members were able to visit the Federation Novitiate. There they were greeted by Sr. Barbara Staropoli (Rochester) and Sr. Michelle Lesher (Philadelphia), the Federation novice directors. They gave a full tour of the renovated novitiate and had an open discussion about formation needs for candidates, novices, and those in initial formation.

The LLFC and the U.S. Federation would like to thank Linda and Sr. Mary Louise for their dedication, hard work, and service to the Committee. After deciding to expand the LLFC to include the formation of agrégées and associates, Linda became the first associate appointed to the LLFC committee. Sr. Mary Louise has been on the committee since its inception in Feb. 2014, after the Leadership Assembly approved the merging of the Initial Formation and Ongoing Formation Committees in Nov. 2013. They will both complete their terms in 2019.

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