Blessed by Religious Life Peers

This past weekend I gathered with friends, some old and some brand new, for the first ever Giving Voice Retreat for Sisters in their 40s at my community's vacation house outside of Seattle.

I attended my first Giving Voice Retreat when I was in the novitiate. Of course I was younger back then (with less gray hair), so it was the annual 20s/30s retreat weekend. The connections I first made 6 years ago on MLK weekend have sustained me on my journey and made me a better Sister of St. Joseph of Peace.  This weekend was another graced opportunity to be with people who get both religious life and what it is like to be my age IN religious life and who also believe deeply in its future. In our closing prayer we were invited to share one grace we received on the retreat. I shared that I had quite literally been blessed by my GV Sisters.

Because you see, this summer I have also stepped out of the circle of leadership for Giving Voice, having served on two conference planning teams and as a member of the Core Team for the past 3 years. As part of our closing prayer on Sunday, my GV Sisters surprised me with this blessing:
In gratitude for all that you've done to serve Giving Voice so well, we offer you this blessing: 
May you know God's love and the gratitude of your Giving Voice sisters for the ways in which you've offered your gifts to serve us. We pray in thanksgiving for the ways in which you donated such time and talent to us. 
May you continue to grow in relationship with sisters in Giving Voice, sisters in yours and other communities, and with the people of God. 
May you recognize the ways in which you've grown from having served on the GV leadership team. 
May you continue to be effective in your service to others as you work for solidarity and justice in the world. 
May your faith propel you forward, enabling you to take "prophetic risk[s] so that God's reign might be more fully realized." 
May your next venture be successful and life-giving, and may you know God's presence with you as you move forward into something new. 
May your prayer be fruitful and intimate. 
And may you always know God's immense love for you, God's tender care of you, and God's guidance of you. 
With your sisters, we pray: "In unity with the church and with all of creation we give praise and thanks to the Giver of all gifts. We open ourselves to the liberating power of God whose Spirit in us leads to peace."

The quotations are from my CSJP Constitutions. I cannot tell you how powerful it was to be standing in the center of GV Sisters, hearing them pray the words of my congregation's constitutions. It was a beautiful reminder that we all women of the Church, connected in so many ways yet diverse in the way we embody the gifts of the Spirit.

It has been an honor and a privilege to serve in leadership of this grassroots peer led organization. As I wrote in my final GV E-Newsletter last month: "As I take a step out of the circle of leadership back into the larger circle of GV Sisters, I know that my friends and Sisters will continue to create spaces for younger women religious to give voice to their hopes, dreams and challenges in religious life."

I am well and truly blessed by the presence of each of my GV Sisters in my life.

1 comment:

Melissa said...

Hi Susan,

I am so happy to hear that you had such a great time with Giving Voice sisters! How wonderful that you all were able to have the first retreat for members in their 40s. What a great picture of all of you! Even though I'm married, I love seeing such a large group of women religious (especially women that are close in age to me!) I also enjoyed reading the blessing the other women created for you - what wonderful quotations from your Constitutions!