News & Events


IHM Forward Weekend Review

by Mindy Welding, IHM

“All Christians are called to be hospitable, but it is more than serving a meal or filling a bed,
opening our door – it is to open ourselves, our hearts, to the needs of others.
Hospitality is not just shelter, but the quality of welcome behind it.” - Dorothy Day

IHM Forward, (sisters aged 68 and under), gathered the weekend of October 6 to reflect upon the vow of celibate chastity and what it means for us at this time. We began the weekend with the relationship of Mary and Elizabeth at the Visitation, each woman bringing the gifts of God’s presence and their total gift to each other in a vulnerable relationship. The deep sharing was an outpouring of the immense love of God within each woman – one to the other – an Incarnation of generous, overwhelming love.

This gift of relationship, vulnerability, deep sharing and walking with is what the vow of celibate chastity is in lived reality. It reassures us to know that we are enough as the Beloved of God and it begs us to nurture the gifts given for our call. We are chosen by God for this life at this time. Celibate chastity calls us to “right relationship” with our sisters and in our world. It invites me to bring some of the best of me home at the end of the day.

In accord with the theme of the Visitation and sharing in relationship with one another, we gathered with the sisters living at the IHM Center on Friday evening for prayer entitled “The Magnificat of Friendship,” and chose among nine spiritual encounters of the Visitation written on pieces of paper and selected randomly. We followed prayer with an ice cream social where we enjoyed one another's company as we told stories, shared hopes for the
weekend and laughed a lot! The next day, Saturday, we signed up two by two to visit the sisters at Our Lady of Peace Residence during their supper. Ice cream was once again shared among us in the sisters’ community rooms – sharing the weekend story, asking the sisters how they were doing, praying with them, singing or just being present. It was a continuation of the Visitation, bringing life to all who joined in the encounter! Truly, this was a
celebration of our vow of celibate chastity and the special relationship to which the vow calls us.

One of the readings for preparation for the weekend was Chapter 8 of Religious Life in the 21st Century: The Prospect of Refounding, by Diarmuid O’Murchu (Orbis Books, NY, 2016) in which the author renames the vow of celibacy-- the ‘vow for relatedness’ (p.146). He writes, “We are called to be an iconic emblem forever reminding our world that all of life is programmed for relationality, an evolutionary imperative initially born out of Holy Mystery
itself” (p. 146). He continues, “In a world so fractured and wounded, it is difficult to persuade anybody that a more relational, cooperative, and
collaborative existence is ever possible” (p. 147).

Isn’t this what God dreams for us? God’s dream is unity, to be in relationship with one another. The desire to be known—for others to know us as we are and for us to know others as they are—is a journey that we walk together with a commitment to personal work, to deeper relationships and a willingness to invite others into relationship. At the heart of God lies the creative, intimate, passionate desire to be incarnated in this broken, wounded, yet beautiful world. We share in this creativity and passion through our vow, co-creating with God, the dream of the kin-dom.

Our IHM Direction statement challenges us to live out the commitment to embody unconditional love for the world, to be the presence of love for one another and to assume responsibility for the present and the future life of the Congregation. This is living out our vow of consecrated celibacy, a vow
for relatedness. Our Alphonsian spirituality deepens in us this sense of knowing God loves us intimately (I’m enough; you’re enough) which allows the creative flow of passion for others. It impels us for the mission, to be the presence of love in the world. What we vow to one another, we vow not for ourselves – it is the Incarnational act of the unconditional love of God, through Jesus, carried on in us.

In small and large group sharing, we claimed the responsibility to be vulnerable with others, to be truthful and honest together, trusting in the ability to build relationships among us through deep listening. We do this, together, for the sake of IHM, for mission; God is inviting us deeper into the heart so that we can be incarnational.

We are most grateful for your prayers and your support as we continue on this IHM Forward journey!

L-R front: Sisters Mary Ann Lang, Rachel Terry, Giovana Fuentes Bendivez. L-R seated: Rosemarie Gregorio, Elizabeth DeMerchant, Amanda DelValle, Kieran Williams, Mary Elaine Anderson, Joan McCusker, Kate Clancy, Mindy Welding. L-R standing: Ruth Harkins, Grace Surdovel, Rose DiFluri, Dora Vizcarra, Mary Kay Faliskie, Donna Korba, Maryalice Jacquinot, Nancy Hawkins, Kathleen Burns, Liz McGill, Angela Kim,
Denise Montagne, and Denise Lyon