Continuing A Revolution of Goodness

Affiliation Convocation 2018 inspires ‘next steps of kindness’

FSPA and affiliates gather to continue A Revolution of Goodness

Kindness is not only the unstoppable movement that tenaciously flows from Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration’s Mission Assembly 2018, but also from the convergence of many of its tributaries, such as Affiliation Convocation 2018, held Oct. 5 – 6 in 
La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Some affiliates who came together for the convocation experienced a live-in and a celebration of new and lifelong affiliation at St. Rose Convent. On Saturday, more than 100 attendees, affiliates and sisters, gathered at Mary, Mother of the Church to continue conversations and contemplate next steps of kindness.

Attendees were called to commence convocation with the greeting “All Are Welcome,” led by affiliates Joyce Heil, cantor, and Tom DeZell, guitarist (pictured left). Their talents provided the sound of rich, contemplative goodness throughout the day.  

“Shared charism — divine grace or gift, transcending formal religion, given for the benefit of the whole world” was the essence of “Our Franciscan Story,” as told in part by Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration Karen Lueck. She shared a firm feeling that first came to her on Mt. Laverna in Assisi, Italy: “This is who I am. I am Franciscan,” and that she’s heard many affiliates declare a similar sentiment: “‘These are my people. This is where I belong.’”

Affiliate Marge McCardle recalled “the sense of community ... absolutely electric,” that hummed throughout mission assembly. Her thoughts since then, she said, also return to the transformation of the role of affiliates over time. “How remarkable, that we are called to be a part of this incredible organization. We aren’t here by accident. How will we step forward?”

Attendees did so by entering World Café, the structured process in which individuals engage collaboratively with others in profound discussion around the three provocative movements that emerged from assembly: unity in diversity, relationships and Gospel Living. Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration Eileen McKenzie and affiliate Rosalie Hooper Thomas were their guides. “A Revolution of Goodness was a definitive moment in FSPA history,” declared Sister Eileen. She bridged the time between assembly and convocation, explaining that Future Weaver Activists, Sisters Sarah Hennessey, Katie Mitchell and Corrina Thomas, had deeply discerned during FSPA Chapter of Affairs “what’s ours [sisters] to do in this mutual relationship and interdependence. Affiliates have their own charge. Sisters can’t do it, and vice-versa.” 

These sister weavers, she said, were “charged to put words around what was happening with this charismatic force” but with movement, not with static terms. “If we want to make them provocative movements, let’s own them.” 

She sent attendees on their way to World Café with “emerging questions” to contemplate. In relationships: “We build bridges … that stretch us to be people of encounter who stand with all suffering in the Earth Community. What bridges are we on … called to? How can we live into a culture of encounter?”

In Gospel Living: “What truly frees us is our call to itinerancy as Franciscans. What truly frees us is the heart of the Gospel. What truly are we called to in relationship and action?”

In unity and diversity: “How are we united in our diversity … do we embrace diversity … do we celebrate our gifts and our differences?”

What emerged from World Café were many concepts, seemingly caffeinated. Moving the provocative movements forward requires “being aware of privilege and thinking of bridge building as two sides coming to meet in the middle. Otherwise, you’re doing it from a stance of privilege,” stated affiliate Karen Hellman.

Affiliate Vince Hatt invited attendees to reflect upon two new questions: “What is the ‘new’ the affiliation community is being called to, and what do we need to get there?” One group was called to the goodness of “deeper collaboration as affiliates, FSPA, the Body of Christ and all of creation to see we share gifts of resources, talents, passions and struggles to better reveal God, Jesus, to each person and to the world.” Individuals were then invited to find the unique newness stirring in their hearts.

Having reflected upon all the good and the new that surfaced throughout the day, three Future Weaver Activists, affiliates Pat Kerrigan, Darleen Pryds and Beth Allen, gave voice to the entire experience with a collective of kindness in this poem.

A spirituality of love, not fear. 
Listening presence. 
Naming our differences authentically and openly ... 
Affiliation moving from a personal journey 
To a shared journey ... 
Trust in being counter-cultural. 
We don’t know what we don’t know ... 
Go back to the well. 
Embrace our vulnerability ... 
Sister and affiliate true mutuality — adult relationships, 
Together to carry on the Franciscan story. 

I am just one person. Then, I see all of you. 
All are welcome to build this house ... 
We honor this spirit that has been given to us. 
The charism is in us ... It’s stirring. 
Let’s get to the table where saints and sinners are equals. 
It’s a movement. Let’s take it deeper, 
Perhaps to a bridge where we see a world as good, 
Through our shared Franciscan lens. 
There are more questions than answers. 
And the question is ... 
What. What? What! 
And then, there will be clarity. 

Home in this divine grace that we share, 
called to electric interdependence, 
provoking each other into discomfort, 
nudging each other in co-discerning, 
weaving right action and wise words 
from the harvest of inter-being, 
freed through what we fear. 
This Heart-Call to Revolution 
sustains us through discomfort. 
I am not I without you. 
I am because you are ... 
Let the church say Amen!

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