Spiritual Reflections

Our Ministry of Sponsorship

In an October 7, 2020, Field of the Future blog, author Otto Scharmer wrote about “action confidence.” He described it as “the courage and capacity to step into something new and bring it into being,” or, in the words of the late cognitive scientist Francisco Varela, “to lay down a path in walking, creating reality as we step into it.

As I reflected on the notion of action confidence, I was transported to the 1840’s, frontier Michigan, in the town of Monroe, where our founders, Redemptorist Father Louis Florent Gillet, C.Ss.R., and Mother Theresa Maxis, actively engaged in action confidence. They had “the courage and capacity to step into something new and bring it into being” as they founded the Congregation in 1845. Their purpose was to lay down a path that would “foster the human aspirations of the people in the area, specifically the preservation, deepening and spreading of the community of faith in Jesus Christ. They chose the work of education as the most appropriate to fulfill their purposes in that time and place” (IHM Constitutions).

All of our IHM sponsored and cosponsored ministries

The essence of their intention has extended the teaching and healing mission of Jesus in the spiritual and ministerial life of the congregation to include pastoral care, faith formation, spirituality, social service, and health care missions in the United States and in Peru, Mexico, Guatemala and Canada where we serve and have served throughout our one hundred-seventy-eight years. Each ministry was developed in response to the needs of the Church and God’s people. 

The teaching and healing mission of Jesus continues to enliven the IHM Mission and Charism today as we lay down new paths through our ministry of Sponsorship.

Sponsorship is a structured relationship through which the sponsor, in our case, the IHM Congregation, in the name of the Church, directs and influences a ministry that meets an apostolic need and furthers the mission of Jesus (Catholic Health Association 2021). The Mission of Jesus was to proclaim the reign of God and to be a visible sign of God’s reign. Our sponsored ministries are aligned with and participate in extending Jesus’ mission as sponsors discern more deeply and respond more fully to the needs of those they serve within the context of Biblical values. 

This edition of Journey will focus on the ministry of sponsorship and its spiritual foundation and bring to your attention each of the ministries IHM sisters currently sponsor and co-sponsor. We sponsor: Saint Joseph’s Center, Scranton, PA founded in 1890; Marywood University, Scranton, PA, founded in 1915; Our Lady of Grace, Manhasset, NY, founded in 1968; Friends of the Poor, Scranton, PA, founded in 1986. We sponsored Saint Joseph’s Hospital, Carbondale, PA, which was founded in 1925 and concluded its services in 2012. In addition to our sponsored ministries, we co-sponsor three ministries in collaboration with other religious congregations of women and men: Mother Seton Academy founded in Baltimore, MD in 1993; The African Sisters Education Collaborative founded in Scranton in 1999; and NativityMiguel School of Scranton founded in Scranton in 2012. 

While attending a conference recently, a question was raised that caught my attention: What is the shelf-life of the decisions we make? I think it is safe to say that over time we have seen variability in the shelf-life of decisions that are made. Unanticipated, intervening realities pop up and we are taken back to the drawing board. Reflecting on the ministerial decisions that have been rendered regarding the sponsored and co-sponsored ministries, I believe that we, as a congregation and our sponsored and co-sponsored ministries, continue to be attentive, intentional, and responsive to the signs of the times, the needs of the Church, and the people of our time with an eye toward the future. The life of our sponsored and co-sponsored ministries is kept fresh and enlivened by our fidelity to and participation in the redeeming Mission of Jesus and the IHM Mission. Mission unites us and gives us the courage and capacity to recognize together new possibilities on the horizon and the action confidence and energy to bring them to life in service of God and God’s people. 

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