ausa 01Sr. Marilyn summarizes the Assembly“This is the first Assembly I can remember for which we had a pre-Assembly meeting to prepare ourselves for the Assembly.”

Sr. Bernadette Sullivan.

Our 2014 Assembly, “Embracing the Call to be Apostles the Resurrection,” began with a warm welcome by Sr. Marilyn Trowbridge, and a prayer ritual during which Associate Gloriajean Wallace called each participant by name while members of the Assembly Planning Committee gave each one her Assembly name tag.

“Prayer was the focus of each day, and it was reverently done.”

Sr. Pauline Sweeney.

Our keynote speaker, Sr. Barbara Leonhard OSF, a lover of Scripture and preacher of the Good News, has degrees in Biblical Studies and Christian spirituality.  She grounded our Assembly theme solidly in Scripture:  starting with the Resurrection, Sr. Barbara traced the actions of Mary Magdalen at the tomb – so blinded by her grief for the loss of Jesus’ Body that she did not recognize Him when she saw Him – and the Apostle Thomas who, in his skepticism, obstinately refused to believe the testimony of the others – and then to the Appearance on the road to Emmaus.  

“The days were not rushed and the pre-Assembly sessions enabled a familiar continuity from start to finish.”

Sr. Teresita Samson.

Jesus commissioned the Apostles (and you and me) and sent them out quite literally “to render Jesus Present and Active” in the world. Sr. Barbara reminded us that just as God “breathed life” into Adam in Genesis and into Ezekiel’s valley of dry bones, so we are commissioned to carry out the Gospel mandates:”whose sins you forgive are forgiven them” (we are to be reconcilers and healers)’ and “those whom you hold fast are held fast” (we are to be community; to be community builders)…

“The Assembly focused on the true spirit of Jesus’ Resurrection each day, and we carried it forth each day as we shared Scriptural references and our own insights.”

Sr. Kathleen Reynolds.

ausa 02The groups at table ausa 03The Associates' Circle ausa 04The Sisters' Circle

After lunch, Sr. Barbara Leonhard related all this, in a very practical way, to our 3 Chapter Calls:

• We will strengthen our Gospel call to be prophets of dialogue and healing within the Church and the world.

• We will surrender our comfort zones, choosing to work with those who live in situations of social vulnerability: poor people, women, especially those unseen, and all of the community of life.

• We will embrace change at all stages in our lives as opportunities for spiritual healing among us and within ourselves.

“We were challenged to deepen our understanding of the Chapter Calls – and challenged with the reality of where we are in our lives.”

Sr. Arleen Bourquin.

“Sr. Barbara was ‘down-to-earth’ and realistic in her presentation.”

Sr. Grace Miriam Pleiman.

“Sr. Barbara’s talk was memorable.”

Sr. Norma Meyer.

Then we were asked to engage in contemplative reflection and share our reflections with another person.

Visioning Together

On Saturday morning, we gathered for prayer that was followed by a presentation – punctuated by delightful pictures  -- from Sr. Licia Mazzia, Congregational Minister, about the activities in other Areas – and the new General House in Rome. The actual move from New York to Rome is scheduled for December 2014.

“I especially enjoyed meeting leadership.”

Sr. Karen Hartman.

ausa 05Sr. Licia, congregational Minister, explains Congregational events to the AssemblyAfter asking Sr. Licia questions, we took a short break and returned to our assigned tables for visioning together practical ways to make the Chapter Calls a concrete reality for our U.S. Area Pastoral Plan. Each table was assigned one of the Chapter Calls, and asked to record and report back to the Assembly its practical and specific recommendations for implementing the ‘Call’ – which we did at the end of the morning. The recommendations will now go to a writing group which will create a draft to be reviewed by the Area.

During Saturday afternoon, we held “Circles if Life”: the Sisters gathered in the Chiara Room and the Associates in the San Damiano Room – a meaningful time during which each group discussed challenges and activities unique to their differing roles.

“It was inclusive – a real model of community. There was a lot of love, acceptance and welcoming.”

Sr. Mary Maloney.

Saturday evening we had a delightful entertainment as Mr. Tom Sparough, juggler and spiritual performer shared his skills – and taught us a few of them! His work is what most people call fun, but there is depth to it, too. Touching on the basic core of community, he brings laughter, insight and balance into people’s lives. Among the things he taught us was “The Spiritual Exercises of the Coffee Filter”:

“It was excellent!  I loved the spirituality of the juggler.”

Sr. Adelaide Link.

“He was very good! I will never think of a coffee filter in the same way again!”

Sr. Yvonne Fackler.

“The Assembly was wonderful. Sr. Barbara made the Scriptures come alive – and I loved the juggler! I loved the theme, and the way we followed it. Having a Circle of Life for the Associates was new, and deeply appreciated.”

Associate Mary Jane Bauer.

ausa 06Mr. Tom taught us many things ausa 07The Spiritual excercises of the Coffee Filter ausa 08At the end presentation on Saturday, Mr. Tom illustrated Christ within each of us by having our faces "appear" on a replica of the sacred host - in this case Sr. Theresa

Sunday morning began with Sr. Marilyn’s summation of the Assembly and recognition of Associate Thomasina Nolan for her 25th year as an SFP Associate. During the Closing Ritual, each participant came to the front of the room to receive a book on prayer, Praying in These Emerging Times, ausa 09The Jubilarian's Mass beginsand claim a ‘ribbon’ upon which there were 4 names of Sisters and Associates from throughout the Congregation whom they would remember in prayer until the next Assembly. Sr. Marilyn thanked the members of the Planning Committee and all others who made the Assembly possible.

“The Assembly was joyful…the liturgies were spiritual, deeply human and inspiring!”

Associate Thomasina Nolan.

Following the closing ceremony, we had time to prepare for The Jubilarians’ Mass – which was celebrated beautifully by Father John Quigley OFM augmented by his fine sermon and the beautiful music. Then we ausa 10A delicious cake tops off the feastall enjoyed a delicious celebratory banquet, after which it was time to start saying our good-byes.

“This was a really good Assembly. I liked the prayer context, and the visioning is important…and I also liked the process.”

Sr. Mary Veronica Donahue.

“The Assembly was welcoming, inclusive and transforming. As a new Associate, I thought it would be good, but it was far better than I anticipated.”

Associate Denise Scaravella.

“This was a blessed time – from Sr. Barbara’s talk through reconnecting with friends and visiting with all the Sisters.”

Sr. Christine Edwards.



ausa 11The Jubilarians with leadership (l. to r.): Srs Giannica, Marvi, Jacinta, Madeline Marie, Coletta, Licia, Marilyn, Pauline, Karen, Madonna, Bonnie and Jo-Ann



Leah Curtin, SFP - associate

Published: June 10, 2014