Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Nun Run 2007

Nuns and Running? Don't let your eyes or mind deceive you! What is a nun run you may ask? It has nothing to do with running and very little to do with Nuns to be quite honest. It's a catchy little phrase and cute little photo though...isn't it? Sorry...not happening on this blog!
This past weekend I was on the coordinating team for a NUNRUN in the Milwaukee Archdiocese.
A NunRun is a 24hour (ish) experience for women who would like to learn more about religious life and how it is expressed in different congregations. In the Milwaukee Archdiocese, there is a collaborative effort among all of the religious congregations and their vocation directors (VMMA). Twice a year, we try to have a NunRun featuring 4 or 5 different congregations. The participants get an opportunity to experience diversity in community life and housing, learn a bit about the charism (spirit or flavor) of each particular congregation, and share prayer and meals together.

This NunRun featured 4 fantastic Milwaukee congregations: (I've linked them for you)

Or as I affectionately call them: The Franny's, The Salvies, The Dommies, and The Aggy's.

We started at our SSSF Mama Casa, got the 3 women participants settled. Then we hopped in the way cool SSSF van and proceeded to the SDS Provincial Center, which is adjoined to their high school, Divine Savior Holy Angels. We were greeted by Srs. Carol Jean, Karlyn, and Mary Lee (their Provie). We shared a spectacular supper, had a tour, and learned a bit about the Salvie charism and history.

Hopped back into the official vehicle of the 2007 NunRun and went back to our Mama Casa. We were greeted by Sr. Maureen (our Provie...to the right) and had some snacks and conversation. After a good night's sleep...we had a delightful morning prayer service and a tour of our motherhouse, history wall (I love our photo wall), and chapel. Said adios...to the SSSFs and headed onto Racine.

The Racine Dommies, have a spectacular place. They run a retreat center and it is RIGHT ON THE LAKE...absolutely gorgeous. I love it there. The participants got a tour, we enjoyed lunch with some of the Dommies and some of the other vocation directors...then we gave the participants some time to enjoy the retreat space. They were able to walk and talk with a vocation person, if they wanted, or they could just use the time for themselves.

An aside note: Half of my living group was at Racine this weekend! Deb our new affiliate was there for her intercommunity group and Sr. Beth was there for a weekend gathering too! Throw Sr. Mary Ann and Sr. Stella (a Lake OSF) in the mix too..it was PARTY in Racine on a Saturday afternoon. That was nice...I visited with Deb, Stella, and Mary Ann a bit and then was back to work with the NunRunners.

Bye, bye, bye...to Racine and onto the Aggys to complete our tour. So far the participants had an experience of a modern Provincial house, a gigundo Mother House with a lot of history, a half motherhouse/half retreat center type place, and finally a "regular living space" experience of housing. That's right...we visited a local Agnesian community home. There are 5 sisters living in this house. They were superbly hospitable to us. We did some sharing, enjoyed a delicious supper, and then had a lovely prayer to end our time together. My friend Sr. Vicki is a temporary professed with the Aggys...she lives at that house. It was great to see her and get a little CRAZY.

Overall...I thought the NunRun was a success...we met our objectives and I think the participants got a great, diverse flavor of the possibilities in religious life. I really do enjoy this type of interaction with people, although I was really wiped out by Saturday night. It's nice to share our community's story with people as well as learn about others.

Monday, October 22, 2007


It's 1:00a.m. and I can't sleep. I know I have been awful at posting on a weekly basis. I just haven't had much to write about...not like there is nothing going on. I'll try and give a brief update on what has been happening:

Last weekend I went with my other living group...the White House Sisters, to Chicago to see WICKED! It was incredible; seriously one of the best musicals I have ever seen. I want to see it again.

It was a lovely day with my Sisters. We took the train down from Milwaukee and played cards. Enjoyed some lunch...headed off to the theatre. Experienced this AMAZING performance and then ate Chicago stuffed pizza for supper. It was one, wonderful, "one short day" in the Chicago City! (That was a cheesy call back from the musical...I know...I know)

Galinda was phenomenal; however, I was totally inspired by the character of Elphaba. The singing was spectacular, costuming, choreography...it was truly "the whole package". I have a new "dream role" to add to my list of roles in the "If I ever have time to perform in musical theatre again" category. Elphaba of course...although for me I think Galinda would be more challenging character wise. Elphaba would be more fun for me!

Wednesday at school...for part of our professional development time, we explored a greater meaning of collegiality and played together. Yes you read that correctly, we PLAYED. We have been having some difficult times these past few weeks. It was time for a morale booster...not that I can take the credit for it. Two of my teachers planned and facilitated it. To see my faculty letting loose a bit, laughing, joking and enjoying one another was worth it! We need time and space to boost our morale so that we can develop as professionals. And for those of you reading this think that this doesn't connecting with a professional standard of education...I hereby give you:
  • Wisconsin Teacher Standard #10: Teachers are connected with other teachers and the community. The teacher fosters relationships with school colleagues, parents, and agencies in the larger community to support pupil learning and well-being and acts with integrity, fairness and in an ethical manner.

Oh yeah...we're connecting and fostering relationships...because ultimately...that's what's best for the kiddos. And that's why we are all here. I hope this time was good for the faculty and that people are in better spirits this coming week. We do have a short week, so I think the break on Friday will be rejuvinating...for all of us too.

This past week seemed like a whirlwind (ok...which doesn't). This weekend I sang at a friend's wedding. It was really nice. I was happy to be able to do that for her and her husband. Saturday was quite relaxing...I went for two long walks. Today I was in Chicago for my prayer group. That was nice too...I missed seeing my Chicago contingency of Sisters.

Now it's 1:00a.m. and I should try and sleep. I have a busy week coming up...a lot of SSSF events! Yipee!!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Jabba the Yuck

Ok...so my blog is not entitled "Religious life...the land of rainbows and butterflies" for a reason! I am the queen of acknowledging the positive and eliminating the YUCK; but I had one of these profound revelations that I will attempt to share...it's filled with YUCK YUCK and more YUCK...but it's real and reality is part of this life adventure that I promised to share with you!
My image of YUCK is Jabba the Hut with the Mr. Yuck face:

Here we go...fasten your seat belts and pray (it will be a minor miracle if I actually publish this.)

Transition is one of those FABULOUS formation words that has a completely different meaning once you enter religious life. When I entered, people talk about "transition" as a state of being, a personality, an attitude...I'm finally starting to put some meaning behind my own reactions to being in "transition". (a brief aside for those who don't know me personally...I can be, well slightly animated and I have a way of saying TRANSITION that encompasses what this meaning is. When I figure out how to record my voice onto the blog...I'll add an audio :) )

So I'm in transition...on like every possible level imaginable--formation transition, living group transition, ministry transition...and there's probably more, but that seems like a good start. It takes me longer than I'd often like to come to some understandings of my reactions to things. This is partly because I have a tendency to hibernate and partly because I am an information gatherer by nature. I look for the info, the logic, and then the application.

This period of transitions for me is starting to at least be clear as far as what I'm reacting to and why. So I have the info, I'm starting to fit together the logic...and hopefully sometime in this century I'll figure out the application. :-)

The last two years of novitiate...there was an intense focus on the Katy-factor, as it should be. It was filled with the joys of GROWTH and trying to figure out this religious life stuff. Last year was a little bit of ministry, a little bit of school, a little bit about the vows...I'm growing, I'm learning, I'm integrating...woo hoo.

Then it happens and in typical Katy fashion...all at once...I have a new ministry, I'm a vowed girl, and my living group changes. No problem...I can handle this...I don't fear change...in fact change is part of the adventure...I LOVE ADVENTURES.

I don't give myself much leeway for well...anything. I was aware that all of these things were transitioning at once, but I was trying to react to them as individual events; as if this happening at once doesn't affect my being. I tend to be an extremist...so I was just plain down on myself pretty quickly for not "figuring it out" immediately. (I didn't say I was logical; I said I looked for the logic).

To be completely honest...my extremist personality said, "Ok...Kate...you are not perfect enough in your ministry, you are not perfect enough in community, you are not perfect enough...yadda yadda yadda. This is kind of a big yuck-o place to be. Especially after the extreme high of entering a new ministry and vowie wowies.

So I finally succumbed to the fact that I am in transition AGAIN. And it's like the quadruple whammy transition...not just your run-of-the-mill T-time. It wasn't the succumbing to being in transition that was a realization it was the "oh crap, I can identify (FINALLY) more of the whys and the behaviors...and what I can do about them" that is the part that has me in shock.
So I've identified a few of the YUCKS that perhaps can help me move beyond this blobby yuck funk that I am trying to EMBRACE.

**Relationships--oooh one of my core values (and I'm surprised that this is an issue for me?)
I realized that I love my job because I try to be a relationship builder (although that is my biggest challenge right now...but that's another entry for another time) as a school principal. Because I made this HUGE shift into a very consuming ministry...I think part of my struggle is feeling disconnected with relationships which are important to me. I don't see my friends, family, or community as much as I'd like. I don't connect with the people regularly anymore. I also came off of this relational high preparing for vows, especially my pre-vow retreat. I thrust myself into ministry, ministry, ministry...no balance...little integration happening here. Hmmmm.....

**God time and Katy time
Yeah...see relationships and multiply this by 5 million. I need, need, need to take time out for God time and me time. When I don't take time for this, I am usually overwhelmed and almost over the edge. I find too, particularly with this ministry...I need that down time for myself and prayer just to re-energize myself for the next day. I am not so disciplined in this and will usually excuse myself from it because of being tired. What I realize when I do take this time, I have more energy. My spiritual director (brilliant) asked me to be intentional...not judge myself about the how long, how much...is it ENOUGH (see a theme here?)...but just be intentional. So for the past month...I have lit a candle every night before bed (I haven't missed a night!). Some nights I lit it and blew it out and went to sleep, other nights I lit it and sat watching the flame, a few evenings...I even reflected for a while! I just did what I could at that moment...and it has made a world of difference on my YUCK factor.

There are a few other insights...but I'll stick with these for now. So what am I learning...nothing new...it's the same darn lessons; over and over and over and over again. The relationship thing was a big revelation because I think being disconnected (I think that's a feeling? right?) is having a big impact on me and challenging my value and my commitment. Instead of immediately owning this thought of "disconnectedness"...I get paranoid and usually come down on myself pretty hard. But when I realized..."oh Kate...let's call this Yuck monster disconnected" I can now do something about it.

All this babbling really boils down to is two words: BALANCE (grrrrr) and INTEGRATION. This stage of my religious life calls me to this in a very profound way. How do I maintain healthy relationships? How do I balance ministry and community and...and...and...? WOO hoo...I've been working on my goals..viola!

Yep...I've gathered some info...I can apply some logic to what I'm experiencing and thinking (thank GOD)...and the application I'm sure will be in the journey. That is tough...as soon as I figure it out...I want IT to happen. At least at this point I know what's "missing" and can take some action in addressing it.

There you have it, but don't be alarmed, in the grand scheme of things I'm good; ministry is good; community is GOOD...but reality does exist here. I am called to love...that's what I vowed; love when it's easy...love when it's hard. Loving, learning....all part of the journey. Religious life is real...and real includes the YUCK too. :-)