Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Destination Retreat: Why Do I...Part 2 (The Juicy Part)

Ok, ok, ok...I promised to talk about the retreat through my experience of it! Or as I have so eloquently titled it "The Juicy Part".

Let me explain something about religious life...

While you're in formation you get all of these GRAND opportunities to really take a close (I mean close) look at yourself. Really it's all a part of discerning where you are called to live in the most authentic way. Sometimes this microscoping effect of YOU is great...you're learnin', you're processin', you're making some changes and life is wonderful. Other times it's like "OK..ENOUGH ABOUT ME...CAN'T I JUST HIDE for a while?" Mostly though, I'd have to say even sorting through those ickyier, uncomfortable things with people...you come out knowing yourself a bit more...in the Land of Initial Formation we call that GROWTH...and that's a GOOD thing.

Ok...so retreat. I was pumped...yahooo...a whole weekend with folks discernin', and two of my favorite people facilitating, and I thought "Mission...great...I'm starting this new ministry...what a great time to get a mission and a vision!" Notice...I PLANNED out what I thought I was going to focus on.

Retreat Rule #1--Planning is a "no-no" (You're supposed to let the "spirit" decide...well for some of us..it's a process!)

As I mentioned previously, I had no problems deciding on my passion! And when I got to talk about it, as someone said about me, "Your being oozes your passion." That was GREAT. I am passionate about religious life and the SSSFs! Yeehah...that's a great thing; especially being on the road to vowage.

So then came the mission statement part. Choosing the verbs was tough, but I like the ones I chose: create, enliven, and explore. I was surprised at enliven and explore, but after I took some time to let it set in for a while, I understood how they fit. Actually...they are perfect verbs for me!

The core values I had were: relationships and integrity. This was easy too...relationships are so core to who I am and also a big reason why I am called to religious life.

The group in which I put down for the action for part of the mission for was Education. Surprisingly enough this was the one that I struggled with. I hated the list of groups because nothing fit the way I was envisioning my mission. I thought Education was too limiting. I think I was frustrated because I read this mission statement and there was no instant SPARK for me. So I thought...GREAT...I don't have a MISSION STATEMENT....AHHHHHHHHHH.

THEN we started our vision statement process. So I sat in my favorite space in our chapel (right smack dab in the middle of the conductor stand in the choir loft) to just be quiet for a while. Then the brain starts goin' and goin' and goin' and I'm thinking "Ministry, ministry, ministry...how can this not come together? Ministry, ministry, ministry...c'mon...what's my problem?" After about 30 mins in chapel, I went outside to walk..that's where I do my best thinking.

One of our foundresses is buried on our grounds (Mother Alfons) and I NEVER go over there; I'm not much of a grave site person. But I went over there and said, "Hey Alfons...what do you think?" I sat on the bench to think some more and all I could think of was for my vision was "In 2012 I will be...a finally professed School Sister". Then I got really frustrated..."I'm here to think about MINISTRY" (Who's in charge here? The spirit? Oh no...I still try to put up a good fight.) I came up with nothing (except what I previously said) which then spiraled a whole series of thoughts. I hate being frustrated. And really...I'm a goal person. I have vision, I have a strong sense of mission...UNTIL THAT DAY. I was over the edge frustration...not a good "Katy combo".

So I was frustrated and all that was going through my head was, "I have no mission. I have no vision. Great, just great." Luckily, I had a couple people around that weekend who knew me well enough to remind me of somethings like, "Hey Katy...um...you're very consistent with your passion." With the little reminders and being "shook up" a bit...I got into action mode. I WILL FIGURE THIS OUT. Frustration turns into determination!

So the next day I took my three verbs and made a list (woo! I love lists!) of things that I wanted to be a part of creating, things I wanted to be a part of enlivening, and things that I wanted to explore and why. It became clearer to me that I have passions in two areas: Religious Life and Education. There were lots of connects between my core values and these "things I'd like to do". Now it was just figuring out how I can balance and give energy to both areas. Needless to say, I ended the weekend very positively! I was totally wiped out, but it was good.

Now...when anything shakes me up a bit...I know it's one of those LOVELY INVITATIONS to say, "Hmmm...what about this really shook me up?" So...it was good for me to think about these things and now...I get to chat with my people about them! Yahooooo!

Told you it was Juicy!

Now..two long posts today and I'm kaputt.
Peace out!

Destination Retreat: Why Do I Do What I Do? Part 1

This past weekend (March 23-25) I participated in a retreat that was facilitated by Sr. Mary Ann Meyer and Sr. Jeanne Schweickert. Sr. Mary Ann is currently our Director of New Membership and walks with women who are discerning a call to religious life and through the affiliate stage of membership. Sr. Jeanne, one of the great "wisdom women" in my life, was her partner in crime...oops...I meant in spirit. How did that slip? They were really excellent together; it was a great weekend! That's a picture of Sister Jeanne and me.

The retreat was primarily focused on women who have been discerning religious life with us for a while, but I was invited to participate too! How cool is that?! I LOVE retreats! The title of the retreat was Why Do I Do What I Do. We spent the weekend looking at our personal passions and giftedness. This was the groundwork for developing a "personal mission statement" which then transformed into a "vision statement" in how we'd like to live out our mission statement in 5 years. We also spent some time with the SSSF mission statement (if you follow the link; our mission statement is the 2nd paragraph.) and explored connections among the mission of the SSSF and our personal mission.

OK...I'll set the context in this post...and I'll get to the juicier details of my thoughts and reactions in the next one..okie dokie?

We began Friday evening with a meditation on the SSSF mission statement and an awareness of how we are a part of the world. We discussed what affects us in the world and what gives us hope. Saturday was a big "SELF DAY" (ugh..just kidding...well...sort of) We started with our passions. What are we passionate about? What is it that we get up in the morning for? What is it that draws energy for us? What would we die for/LIVE for?

We were asked to bring a symbol of something we were passionate about. I brought my Tau Cross (see Nunspeak). As soon as I read the homework, I knew that would be my symbol.

C'mon...it's a symbol of my LIFE...it's truly why I get up in the morning, I give thanks for the community, I have tremendous energy about the commitment, AND yes I would die for it and I LIVE for it everyday! I'm passionate...can you blame me?

This picture is of our prayer space which was home to our symbols and others symbols important for the weekend themes.

After we talked about our passion symbols we reflected on our giftedness. Then we had to pick 4 of our "top gifts" and create a shield using symbols for each gift. This picture is me talking about my shield/gifts (please...note that ARTISTIC is NOT one of my gifts!)

Then we were onto developing our "personal mission" statements. I LOVED the first part of this process...we got LISTS (oooo ahhhh) of action verbs that we had to pick. Then we picked the two core values which we believe in. Finally, the "group" or "focus" for our mission. All of these plugged into our mission statement. After we squirmed a bit about our mission statements we were sent of into the land of visioning...and were to create our "Vision" for 5 years from now.

Our mission is what is our driving life-force. Something that relates to our deepest passions and the vision is how we live that out. The mission (once you figure out what it is) probably won't change much as those passions and desires are embedded in you. The vision may change and/or shift over time, but should relate to your mission. It was really a great self-discovery/processing tool (Ah ha! Welcome to the world of Religious Life..just when you think you've discerned enough..BAM).

One more photo experience for your viewing pleasure. This is the retreat group (sans Sr. Mary Ann who refused to get in the pictures) me and Sister Jeanne and the two women who are discerning with us SSSFs. Yay for a great weekend! Yay for a thought-provoking retreat! Yay for our super-duper facilitators. Mahhhhvelous!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Birthday Reflections

Well...It's the end of another great birthday....yay! It's so fun having a birthday on St. Pat's Day; everybody is celebrating! I had an absolutely fabulous day!

27 seems a little strange--I'm no longer "mid-twenties" folks! Although...I love being in my 20's, it's hard to get any sympathy around the convent when you turn another year older and you are still in your 20s (or 30s, 40s...)! Ha ha ha!

Last night, I was reflecting on this past year of my life and was "preparing" for the big day today. I reread my journals from the year and had some nice time being thankful and recalling all that happens in a year of life. 26 was a difficult year in many aspects for me; so there was a part of me ready to bury it and start the next phase. So on one level this is a relief to turn the page and have this blank, unwritten space before me. (Like that song, Unwritten by Natasha Bedingsfield...LOVE that song; LOVE IT)

On another level, there always are these "Am I where I thought I'd be?" at age ___ thoughts. Which is silly for me...I'm nowhere where I thought I'd be and exactly where I should be at the same time. I guess that's the hard part of being a planner-type person...it's hard to let those past plans go even when you've rewritten the plan over and over again. So after I ruminated about where I've been, where I thought I'd be, and where I am...I had this great experience of gratefulness...like I said I am exactly where I should be and that is a great thought to go into my 27th year of my life! Despite the challenges and the just down right icky things of this year; I am content and I am home. What a blessing to have such chaotic things swirling around and still be grounded in the most important decision--my LIFE....my COMMITMENT!

So...now I'm the big 2-7! And the anticipation of things to come this year are quite phenomenal!

  • I'm graduating with my master's degree in May! (WOO HOO!)
  • I have accepted my first Principalship (Yikes!)
  • I am going to make my 1st Vows (Yipeeee!)

I'm excited for what's to come and think that this will be a good year. It's always nice to reflect on where you were, what you learned along the way, how things have changed, and where you're going, but not without giving thanks for what IS. Thanks. Happy Day!

It's 12:01...perfect timing...birth-day over... welcome year 27!

Peace and All Good!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Election Assembly

Ok...I'm kind of a big dork. I love Assembly time. I love governance, policy, process, discussions, open mic, "debating"...it's all energzing for me.

Let me explain a little: So we have these PA's (Provincial, just the US, Assembly) 3 in a cycle and every 4 years an election. Depending on where we are in the cycle and whether or not it's an election year what our "topics" are. Because this was an election year, we spent the PA this summer developing direction and goals for what we are to expect of our next Provincial Leadership Team (or as I call them: The Provies) March 9-11...we finished our direction setting, heard from the nominess, had a discernment process, and voila...election, new team, bada bing!

I'm still a novice...so my role is "Voice Participant" in the assembly (until after August and I get vowed...then I can vote!!). Actually...this isn't too shabby at all. I am at the tables with the girls, I get to have "full voice" to all parts of the discussions and really...I am there to learn. It's great. I love being a part and welcomed to the tables. Usually, I get to cantor or dance or something with the prayer commitee too. It's great fun.

The best part is having so many of our Sisters together! We pray a little, work a little bit more, and even get some playing in there too! The room is filled with so many people and the sisters from the other parts of the US all come to Milwaukee for these big meetings. I get to hang out with some of the "younger peeps" too which is always a good time...some have described it as "dangerous"...I say that's a bunch of hooey...it's fantastic if you ask me! Then we work, pray a bit more and of course....we CELEBRATE! YAHOOO.

Ok...so this past weekend's election...It was incredible! I've been to 3 PA's (Provincial Assembly), but this was my first election. The energy, the spirit, the WOW! We reelected our current team to serve another 4 year term, which is very cool.

Sisters Maureen McCarthy, Barbara Kraemer, and Liz Heese--

Our newly "re-elected" Provincial team; we love them!
So that's what's been happening in SSSF-land lately! Lots of good spirit action!

Monday, March 5, 2007

Hermitage Days--Ahhhhhhh

One of the greatest things about religious life is that when you are totally overwhelmed, need some space, have something to process or pray about, it is not only acceptable to take a day of "quiet and reflection", but most of the time it is affirmed and encouraged! In the Canonical novitiate year, we had one of these "quiet days" every week; they were called hermitage or desert days. In my case, taking this chunk of time when I know I need it would be one of those great things that are wonderfully referred to as "an area of growth" for me. (Remember the whole s-l-o-w-i-n-g d-o-w-n thing? See Nunspeak--Canonical novitiate)

So March 1st happened...seriously, I don't think I've ever done this in my life. I sat down mid-February and looked at my schedule and thought, "When am I going to get all of this finished?" Yep..panic time! Well...I had to carve out some good prayer and reflecting time for me to sit down and write my self-evaluation of the past two years of novitiate (one of my "steps" as I am beginning the vow process). So I Xed out, on my calendar, and entire day for prayer and reflection!

I had an absolutely wonderful day! I've had a lot going on lately to say the least (school wrapping up, some ministry stuff, new job, starting the road to vowage...etc), and although I haven't really taken time to process all of this fully, I spent the whole day writing and really reflecting upon where I was when I began the novitiate, where I am today, and where I'd like to go as I make a vowed commitment with our congregation. I wrote and I wrote and I wrote, and then when I needed a break I put some music on my mp3 player and danced around the room for a bit! Really...it was so rejuvenating to just have some time to think and be with the Spirit and hear again why I said "yes" to religious life and why my "yes" continues.

Exhausted with all of the other craziness happening right now? Yes I am, but it was really cool for me to just take time to focus on religious life, my commitment and understand how I've grown and what I can focus on in the next step.

WOO HOO...Go praying...go reflecting! Oh yeah!

And to add a little funny aside....because I'm me and as one of my Sisters once said, "your extrovertedness is quite noticeable"...

You have a day like that...all quiet and in your head, and successful...it's like the next logical movement is to want to burst through the door because you are flying high and tell EVERYTHING about it. I had to restrain myself a little, but I did get to share the day with some of my peeps. That was lovely too.

Over and out...ya'll. Peace out...rock on!