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3Joan Mills assists Sr. Jo-Ann at opening ceremony
4 Taking their seats for the opening reports from Srs. Tiziana and Joanne

April 11 – 14, 2013

The Assembly opened on Thursday with evening prayer led by Sr. Jo Ann Jackowski. The ceremony, which included the Easter fire, was planned to start outside with the Sisters and Associates processing inside to the chapel. It was moved indoors because of the rain.

Following Mass on Friday morning, we moved to the meeting room for an update on Congregational life from Sr. Tiziana Merletti and a report on U.S. Area events from Sr. Joanne Schuster.

Sr. Tiziana told us of her plans to be in Rome at the beginning of May for a meeting of the Union of International Superiors General – about 800 of them – followed by an Audience with Pope Francis on May 8th.  She also reported that 54 U.S. Sisters attended the various circles to address the ‘call’ for the upcoming General Chapter, with an overwhelming majority of Sisters supporting Call  4 – to embrace change and opportunities for healing, with a healthy majority also supporting the ‘new evangelization’ (a ministry to those already sacramentalized). Sr. June asked about the other Areas/Mission and Sr. Tiziana gave a brief rundown on what was happening in Italy, Brazil, Senegal and the Philippines.

Following Sr. Tiziana’s address, Sr. Joanne gave a report on the relocation  of the Sisters from Mercy Franciscan Terrace to the third floor of St. Clare Convent, the adoption of an Area-wide logo, the closing and demolition of the Mercy Franciscan Terrace (the meeting room, kitchen area, apartments and patio will be retained). Sr. Joanne also commended Joan Mills, the first lay person to be Director of Associates and Sr. Mary Madonna Hoying, Spiritual Director of the Associates, for the fine job they are doing.

 

5 Sr. Joanne introduces Lynne Ruhl
6Sisters and Associates bless Lynne Ruhl
8 Guiding surrogates in their parts as communication types

Communicating in Relationships “…be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2

Following lunch, Lynne Ruhl of Perfect 10 Corporate Cultures, addressed the group on ‘Reflective Listening.’ She suggested that one excellent place to look for help in developing positive relationships was Scripture: “Fifty-nine scriptural passages tell how we should treat one another,” she said. “And all of them are commands – 13 of which command us to love one another!” Sisters and Associates were invited to read some passages, to select two which they felt were most meaningful, and to share them with the group.

Friday…
“If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.”  Proverbs 18:13

In the morning, Lynne quoted Ralph G. Nichols, past president of the American Listening Association: "The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them. Research shows that, in the absence of respect and trust, people feel undervalued and unappreciated. That is a shame because it is unnecessary: the problem is usually not a lack of desire… it is a lack of skill.”

Learning to treat one another with respect and dignity establishes a trusting climate. But this does not happen accidentally.  She discussed invisible barriers to communication, destructive verbal responses, the impact of non-verbals on communication, and how to develop effective strategies like active listening skills. Lynne finished the first half of her presentation with Paul Tillich’s statement, “The first duty of love is to listen.”  After lunch, the group was treated to some amusing demonstrations of the ‘wrong way’ to listen to someone, with various Sisters and Associates assuming different roles.

Following the demonstrations, we learned about the 4 steps of ‘reflective’ listening:
1) start out being tentative
2) identify the feeling(s) being expressed, and then
3) the thoughts behind the feelings and finally
4) paraphrase what the person has said to you to be sure that you understood her/him

Lynne also suggested that, at least in the United States, the best listening position is to be seated at a 45 degree angle, about an arm’s length apart, and to remember to make eye contact. Watch your body language (it is 55% of communication) and tone of voice (38% of communication).  If you touch someone, it is safest to touch only the elbow or perhaps the shoulder. Reflective listening tells people that you wantto understand them. Reflective listening is an important component of communication – and empathy rounds it out. According to Lynne, “The more healing we encounter in our own lives, the more capable we are of being empathetic.”

Following Friday’s presentation, the entire Assembly was invited to participate in a Holy Hour centered on Scripture and upon the words of Blessed Mother Frances who, among other things, said we are “…to remain kind and loving even when one is in great sorrow oneself. We must be able to cheer and support, and have a compassionate and sympathetic heart.”

9 Associate Monica Smith obtains Associate Mondaline McCall’s history
11 Role playing unhelpful responses

Saturday


After an early Mass on Saturday, the group assembled in the meeting room to consider the various pitfalls of confrontation – and how to confront effectively and gracefully. We were reminded that confrontation done well is a compassionate and caring thing to do because of its many benefits.

To begin to name these benefits, we were asked to identify words whose initial letter matched the letters in the word CONFRONT. Then we discussed why we had chosen these words (C = courage; O = open and opportunity; N = negotiate, nice, nuanced, neighborly; F = forthcoming, fruitful, frank and focused; R = respect, recognition, reconcile, relationship, results; O = ownership, oversight, offering; N = nervous, non-judgmental, natural and T = truthful, trusting, timely, thoughtful and transformation).

After this exercise, Lynne defined confrontation as, “Pointing out discrepancies between a person’s behavior and her/his values.” This offered a ready lead-in to the four case studies in confrontation that each small group was asked to analyze. Lunch followed a discussion of our thoughts and an opportunity to say good-bye to Lynne, thank her and wish her well.

Then many of us processed to the cemetery to participate in a ritual for burying the cremains of Sr.  Loretta Mick, one of the first Sisters to return to St. Clare Convent from the Terrace, and the first of the Sisters to die as a member of Magnificat Community.

After Sr. Loretta’s burial, the group reconvened and was treated to “Zentangles” – an exercise in relaxation, contemplation and focus. Led by artist Joan Hauck, we spent the afternoon relaxing and doodling in a most artistic and beautiful fashion!

Sunday…

The Sisters’ Circle was held Sunday morning, followed first by a ritual designed to bless – and to say good-bye to – the Mercy Franciscan Terrace. This bittersweet moment was followed by a Mass of Celebration honoring our Jubilarians:

Srs. Rose Carmel Berberich, Marie Clement Edrich, Mary Clarita Frericks and Mary David Mulroy – 70 years each!
Srs. Rita Theresa Kruthaupt, Mary Louis Sahm and Mary Virginia Schreiner – 60 years each!
Sr. Christine Edwards, 50 years!

1Our SFP Jubilarians: L to R (first row): Srs. Clarita Frericks, Mary David Mulroy, Rose Carmel Berberich, Marie Clement Edrich, Rita Theresa Kruthaupt; L to R (second row): Srs. Christine Edwards, Mary Virginia Schreiner, Mary Louise Sahm 2 Jubilarians with leadership
14 Sr. Marilyn’s Zentangle pattern Father Mark Shoener, OFM, officiated at the Mass. Sr. Tiziana Merletti, Congregational Minister, received the renewal of the Sisters’ vows; and everyone joined them in prayer. Mass was followed by a festive dinner – and then many good-byes as Sisters and Associates left to return home. 15 Farewell Ritual for the Terrace