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Presence: The Forgotten Can Be So Close By

Courtman.Mary-0696-07.10.2015By Mary Courtman, SNJM

Pope Francis, in his message of mercy, says “Let us make our whole existence a sign of love especially for the weakest and the poorest so they will encounter Jesus in us.”

The large and ever-growing population of the marginalized and poor can never financially qualify for assisted living. Too often they are alone, abandoned, forgotten. And yet they can be so close by.

For me, I was so blessed by Marion, my delightful neighbor. After a fall, surgeries and eventually a leg amputation, she was in a nursing home. The only person who knew and cared about her was her older sister in their hometown of Louisville, KY. I felt drawn to commit myself to a weekly visit – sometimes decorating, bringing flowers from the farmers’ market or fall leaves, or connecting the two sisters by telephone.

Gradually it dawned on me as I walked the long halls to her room… “How many here have no one to visit them, care or even know their name?” How true, perhaps, in all these “homes” – month after month, year after year.

Marion died last year. As I reflect, keeping my promised commitment has made me a better person (“the giver has been given!”) and hopefully, Jesus and His love have been given in those nine years.

To find a person (or several) in a “home” with absolutely no one to visit, ask the nursing home social services person.

Give the gift of Presence.

Presence: The Creative Energy of Community

By Jennifer Brandlon
Director of Communications & Administrative Services

"Presence" is our theme for the month of March, so it's been in my thoughts this week. It came to mind as I arrived at work and looked at the whiteboard near the Province Administrative Office entrance, where we still use good old-fashioned round colored magnets to show who's in and who's out.

Both employees and the PLT use the same board to show when we are physically present for one another, and all of us write notes to alert the others when we'll be out for an extended time. When people in my work circle are absent, I've noticed how much I look forward to when they will return.

Technology is an indispensable tool for getting our work done, but being together face-to-face results in conversations that don't seem to happen by phone and email. Even when everyone is busy, the hum of purposeful community surrounds me and fills me with a sense of shared mission.

It makes me think about the creative energy that flows from the experience of togetherness. In what ways does the presence of others inspire you? How do you see the gift of your presence affecting them?

Membership: Empowering Others Called to SNJM Life

Ryan.Judy-071113By Judy Ryan, SNJM

Membership is a high priority for me as one way we can continue to "give away" as gift our SNJM Charism to others who may be called to keep it alive with us. When I entered our community in 1958, it was the witness and relationships with SNJMs at St. Anne's School and Holy Names Academy, Seattle that moved me to recognize a vocation to religious life and to SNJMS. What a gift that has been all my life! Today's world is such a contrast, in that women religious are almost "invisible" and fewer are available to assist children, youth and young adults in formal education.

It is my hope and dream that our Mission Centres will come up with creative ways to make ourselves available to youth, high school students and young adults: through our parishes, ministries or "sites that offer hospitality of the heart," etc. (See the SNJM Congregational website for Sr. Crystal Clark's "vision" for us: "At the heart is hospitality...") We have been given so much!

Regardless of our age or limitations, we do have gifts of prayer, time and energy to be present as witnesses to the joy of the Gospel! In my ministry with Associates, I see the hope in others to find viable community, faith and prayer, ministry and service that match their heart's desire. Let's put our heads and hearts together to create opportunities to invite folks to get to know us and our charism:  as volunteers, colleagues, Associates, Lay Consecrated or vowed religious. (These aren't limited to "young people"!) To carry on our mission and charism, we need to empower others who are called to SNJM life in whatever ways God moves them.

Membership: Wearing Our Pins

Reavis.Mollie-021911By Mollie Reavis, SNJM

When I read Laura’s reflection last week, I was struck by the important role our SNJM pins played in the story. It was because the Sisters in Seattle and those in Spokane wore their pins/medallions that the young women knew they were members of the SNJM community.

And these young women were attracted to this community. They pursued the connection, and came to participate in a familiar ritual in a new place. And there they found even more Sisters with whom they had something in common!

My hope is that we will proclaim – by pins or other means – that we are members of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, and invite people to join us for what they are seeking: prayer and community life.

Suggested reading: “A Hunger for Depth” by Elizabeth E. Evans, National Catholic Reporter, Feb. 12-25, 2016, Religious Life, page 1a. Special section content from the print edition does not appear online.)

Membership: Connecting Through Our Traditions

Gathering in Spokane

By Laura Michels, SNJM

Early in the fall of 2015 at Gonzaga University where I work, I encountered two students who recognized my SJNM pin. With much excitement they told me that they were graduates of Holy Names Academy in Seattle.

As we chatted, they shared their experience of the December 8th liturgy. Each month the student body would celebrate Mass in St. Joseph Church. They were quite impressed by the renewal of vows ritual. When I mentioned that our Sisters and Associate in the Spokane region also had a liturgy with the renewal of vows and promises, they expressed an eagerness to attend.  I assured them that they would be invited to this event and would provide transportation, if needed.

Kelen and Annie joined us for the liturgy and reception.  They met Sisters who also went to Holy Names Academy in Seattle. (See picture.)

Some weeks later I met with Kelen to ask her what made her and Annie want to come the December 8th event.  For her, “it was a taste of Holy Names here.” It was her first semester in college and she appreciated the connection at the Academy to her new connection to Spokane through this vow ritual.  She plans on bringing a larger group next year.

This experience was a good example of the importance of connectedness through carrying on our significant traditions.