A question heard frequently among women religious today as our demographics shift is: “What does mission mean for us today especially when fewer of us are engaged in ministry?”
The question is an important one. We live in a time when vast numbers of sisters are in a stage of life where they desire to live the mission that has drawn them for decades, but they no longer have a tangible ministry through which they express that mission. So many sense that the mission is indeed still alive within them, but are unsure what that means in their daily living.
Institutes ask the same question. How is an institute’s mission defined when the vast majority of the members no longer engage in ministry? How do leaders speak of their institute and its role in the world at this stage? How do those who work for our institutes explain the mission today?
To explore these questions and more, this issue of Occasional Papers draws upon a line from Mary Oliver’s poem, “Messenger”: “My work is loving the world.” What would help women religious today to see the value and importance of being a presence of love in the world – no matter our stage in life -- and see how our embrace of that call may be exactly what our world needs from us?
The issue also explores the idea from another line of the same poem “… Let me keep my mind on what matters, which is my work, which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished.”
This issue, entitled, 'Our Work is Loving the World,' invites us to consider how we can nurture a way of life – individually and communally – that keeps alert to wonder and awe, believing that there we will discover that perhaps our primary work is to love the world. Maybe this is our contemporary expression of mission as women religious.
Included in this issue are interviews with Dr. Connie Zweig, author of The Inner Work of Age: Shifting from Role to Soul, and Dr. Iain McGilchrist, author of The Matter with Things.
- You ARE Mission: Listening with the Ear of One's Heart - Barbara Ann Mullen, CSJ imagines how it would be if women religious truly believed we are mission until we take our last breath
- 'Shifting From Role to Soul' - Dr. Connie Zweig in an interview explores how we can come into new understanding of mission as individuals and institutes
- Being Astonished - Janice Bader, CPPS shares how her congregation has helped its staff understand and appreciate a new expression of mission
- 'We Don't Have a Mission. The Mission Has Us' - Paula Cooney, IHM offers ideas of how leaders may help their members come to new understandings of living mission
- Cultivating a Readiness to be Astonished - Mary M. McGlone, CSJ explores the insights scripture offers about living from a stance of wonder
- Of Amazement and Wonderment - Mary Edith Olaguer, RGS shares how she attempts to live from a stance of amazement as she unexpectedly finds herself serving in leadership
- Mission: An Ever-Evolving Vortex of Love - Mary Ellen Higgins, IHM offers ideas on spiritual practices that open us to responding to the calls of the world
- The indispensable Need to Learn to See Anew - Dr. Iain McGilchrist explores the imperative to perceive the world in new ways from a stance of awe
- Loving the World - As Enormous and Complex As It Is - Chioma Ahanihu, SLW; Jessi Beck, PBVM; Rosalia Meza, VDMF; and Kim Phuong Tran, CCVI share on how the new discoveries about the cosmos impact their desire to be a presence of love in the world
- Surrender to Hope: Seize the Promise of Synodality - Tracy Kemme, SC reports on her experience in Rome in witnessing the opening of the synod and its potential impact on how we are called to love the world
The deadline for ordering copies is December 15, 2023.
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