Giving Voice, Living the Future of Religious Life (Now)

In the wee hours of Wednesday morning I am heading to Chicago for the long awaited 6th National Gathering of Giving Voice.  I've been part of the planning team for this particular conference since September, so I am of course super excited!  Truth be told I am also a smidge nervous, hoping everything goes smoothly and that it is a meaningful and worthwhile experience for all involved.  It's time to turn those anxiety bunnies over to the Holy Spirit I think and trust that what is supposed to happen will happen.

In addition to being excited about the conference, I'm also excited about seeing good young nun friends and meeting some new folks who are also passionate about the future of religious life.  A group of us has been meeting over Skype calls for many months to design the 4 day conference, so it will be an extra special gift to see their smiling faces in person!

It's also a special moment for me to be helping to create spaces for younger women religious--and some older women religious who are coming to join us in inter-generational conversations about the emerging future of religious life.  You see, back when I was still a 30-something bureaucrat trying to figure out what I was supposed to do with my life, the crazy idea of religious life kept bubbling up to the surface.  Followed by the thought, "Me, a nun?  Do people still do that anymore?" which would help to push the crazy thought back where I thought it belonged.  Then one day in my aimless internet searching for the meaning of life I stumbled upon the Giving Voice website.  Here was a grassroots organization of Sisters under 50, gathering periodically to talk about their hopes and dreams for religious life.  So yes, Susan, people do still do that.  And they seemed to be so very happy and committed to the Gospel.  The very existence of Giving Voice is part of what gave me permission to seriously start discerning religious life.

Later, during my Novitiate, I finally made it to my first Giving Voice Gathering--the 20s & 30s MLK weekend retreat.  Just as my CSJP Sisters are my sisters, these women from different Congregations scattered around the country are also my Sisters.  They are my people, my peers in religious life, and the connections and relationships formed at these periodic gatherings are sustaining, energizing, and life giving.  I have no doubt that this weekend's gathering will be all three.

Please hold the 150 women gathering in Chicago in your prayers.  I will try to post some updates from the Conference if not during the conference, definitely afterwards!

Peace Out


Kelly_SSJ said...

wish I could join you all!!!!!! Have a blessed time together!!!

Susan Rose Francois, CSJP said...

Next time Kelly! The National Gathering generally happens every two years.

But you should plant the seed in your community of joining us Martin Luther King weekend for the 20s & 30s Giving Voice retreat in Arizona! It's inexpensive and priceless.

Sandy, csj said...

Enjoy...sorry I can't make it...

On a related note, I'm interested in conversation with young adults about what they are looking for that existing religious communities are not providing in ways that are relevant to them. Thinking about alternative forms of membership that will bring people into deeper relationship with vowed members in significant ways, sharing life, prayer, community, ministry, but also with a critical mass of other young people for whom the present form of vowed religious life and all the canonical formalities is not attractive and/or feasible.

Please pass along my e-mail to any you think may be interested, either already in religious life, or just discerning/seeking. I've just set up a closed online discussion forum for some conversations about "out-of-the-box" ideas that might be a way forward to the new life that will come out of the diminishment that has been with us for a while.


Anonymous said...

Could you please post the wonderful picture created from all the words that came up in our questions/35 game?

Susan Rose Francois, CSJP said...

yes will do that soon!