Catholic Sisters Week: Common Faith in Christ Unites Women Religious
In 1967, Sister Mary Luke Tobin, then Superior General of the Sisters of Loretto, wrote the Community a letter explaining the new Constitutions – I Am the Way. All of the new understanding of religious life in that document is important and is still in use today, though being revised once again.
This week, we wish to highlight, in particular, two paragraphs from Mary Luke’s letter that are as important today as they were in 1967 and easily trace back to our founding in 1812. The topic is “community,” a key aspect of the life of women religious.
“Community is the way we like one another, the way we accept one another as we actually are, the way we live together, our friendship with one another, our human love for one another, our suffering with one another, our enjoyment of being together. Community is not something we have, not something we have to get. It is the way we are with one another.”
“What unites us most deeply is our common faith in the risen Lord Jesus. The more we can share the awareness and presence of Christ among us, the more we will grow as a Christian faith community.”
Every Sister in every order, worldwide, could write these same words that Sister Mary Luke wrote. The gift of community is a call and a blessing that we cherish and work to deepen. Living in community frees us to live the spirit of the Gospel, responding to the call of Jesus, reaching out, welcoming the immigrant, responding to people who are poor, offering education within and without the classroom and in so many other areas of mission.
I Am the Way tells us, “Rejoicing in and strengthened by our mutual love, we go forth to meet our farther neighbors in their human needs and aspirations. We seek to reach out beyond boundaries imposed by any differences that tend to separate us.” (#35)
This week in the United States is Catholic Sisters Week, the sixth annual celebration of Catholic women religious. The celebratory week is less about honoring Sisters and more about honoring Sisters’ charisms and how we can share them, said Linda Romey OSB, a Benedictine Sister of Erie, Pa., and the chair of the communicators’ committee organizing the event.
Part of the new vision, Sister Linda said, is a recognition that more and more laypeople are being involved in the work of Sisters through volunteer, oblate, associate and other programs. While they may not be called to vowed religious life, they may be called to the same ministry, she added.
“The ways we reach people have changed. The ways that we live our call has changed,” she said. “So how can we share the traditions, share the charisms and deepen the bonds? Certainly, we want to encourage young women to consider vowed religious life — that isn’t going away — but there’s a larger vision, too.”
Catholic Sisters have a story to tell. During this week of honoring Sisters check out Loretto’s Facebook page. The short posts highlight Loretto women open to the Spirit and ready to speak a word of hope as they have worked for justice and acted for peace as the Gospel urges them and all who follow Jesus. That is the charism of Loretto. Come and see!