News & Events


Called to Be a Community of Disciples

by Sister Jean Louise Bachetti, IHM

In her presentation on November 16-17, 2019, Sister Mary Elaine Anderson gently led sister and associate participants in a contemplative approach to a fresh understanding of community. By placing the topic in the framework of the IHM Charism, Mary Elaine paraphrased Lynn Levo, CSJ’s intriguing statement that "Religious are attracted to a particular congregation because they need its charism to satisfy something they are lacking or looking for in their own lives." Considering the implications of the statement, Mary Elaine engaged those present and those on Ustream with the invitation to explore how one's early relationships, family values and cultural norms impact what a person desires and expects from others in community.

Throughout the day and a half, there was time for quiet reflection, deep listening, and contemplative dialogue, along with feedback from the total group. Feeling a sense of groundedness after exploring the gift of charism and naming their individual gifts, participants began the process of identifying the call to be a Community of Disciples. Instinctively there was the realization that the evolving changes since Vatican II recognized that community, "rather than being a closed, bounded system, is an open, fluid, dynamic process or an ongoing construction of relationships open to the environment." (Ilia Delio) Because Mary Elaine initially created the container for trust among the group, there was honest dialogue which generated inspiration for naming the essential characteristics of the current meaning of community. In other words, communal living can become what Sandra Schneiders calls "evangelical friendship."

What may linger far beyond the presentation is the activity of identifying the seasons of personal lives and by extension the life of the congregation. One sister noted on her evaluation that presentations such as these, "will keep us young and in the 'summer' of our life as a congregation."