Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Soundings Update and Happy Summer!

This is the last issue of Soundings Update until the end of the Summer. It is a three page issue with an article about the visit of some of our New Mexico Associates to Boston a few weeks ago. There are also many pictures from our June Donor Appreciation Day Celebration and our Congregation Picnic. Click the hyperlink on the masthead to go directly to the Update.

If you visit our website at www.csjboston.org you can also view slide shows for some of these events.

Happy Summer -- even though we seem to be still waiting for seasonal weather!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Website for Casserly House: A Ministry of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston

Casserly House is a ministry of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Boston. They have just launched a new website. The mission of Casserly House, named after Mother Regis Casserly, the foundress of the Sisters of Saint Joseph in Boston, is to be a living presence in the neighborhood -- a presence which furthers the mission of the sisters, that is, to foster unity of people with God and unity of people with one another.

The house began to be imagined in 1998 when the Sisters of St. Joseph celebrated 125 years in Boston. It opened in 2000. Like our first sisters in mid-17th century LePuy, France, we wanted a place that was a presence to the people of the neighborhood -- a place that would connect neighbor with neighbor and neighbor with God. Like our first sisters in Boston, we wanted to be in the Jamaica Plain/Roslindale area. I'm delighted that Casserly House is launching this website.

I've learned so much from visiting Casserly House over the years and encourgage you to visit their new site. The house has become a safe place for the neighborhood. I recall the day I was visiting and a small child about three years old was on the street and couldn't find his way home. An older child maybe about eight knocked on the door of Casserly House and asked Sister Nancy, who coordinates the house, to help the three-year old find his way home. Watching the children entrust themselves to her care was a powerful moment that taught me what Casserly House is all about.

Casserly House offers an after school program with computer access for neighborhood children wanting to complete school assignments. High school students from some of the Catholic high schools in the area volunteer to help younger children with these assignments. Many of our sisters also volunteer in the various programs that Casserly House offers.

Each summer Casserly House offers a Summer Camp. The camp has been so successful that "alums" of the camp return as student mentors for younger children. Both programs are supported by a grant from the Boston Police Athletic League [PAL]

Casserly House is also a place where immigrant adults who speak little or no English, and whose educational levels vary, can come for support. Almost any morning of the week there is a full program of adult learners and volunteer tutors involved in everything from basic English to preparation for the citizenship exam.

Learn more about Casserly House at their new website: http://www.casserlyhouse.org/

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sisters of St. Joseph: Outreach to Women

Outreach to Women is an evolving ministry of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston that began in the Fall of 2008 after extensive research into the needs of women in the Boston area. Mary Rita Weschler, CSJA, is the director of Outreach to women and yesterday she participated in a Family Fair hosted by the Allston-Brighton Early Childhood System of Care.

I went to the fair to take pictures in preparation for articles that will appear in next season’s issues of Soundings but I came away with a lot more than pictures. The Allston-Brighton Early Childhood System of Care is a four-year initiative funded by the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and led by the Home for Little Wanderers, which heads a coalition of neighborhood service providers. Thirty-two local organizations hosted tables at the fair to highlight resources available to families I learned a lot about the many services available to families in the area and had a good opportunity to see how our own Outreach to Women ministry enables Sisters of St. Joseph and Associates to participate in this network.
The picture at the top is Mary Rita with one of the many folks who stopped by her table. In the picture at the bottom Mary Rita is talking with City Councilor Mark Ciommo who was present at the Family Fair.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Soundings Update...and Reflecting on CSSJ Communicators Meeting

After a week in sunny California, it’s time to get back to reality. Our meeting of CSSJ Communicators was wonderful. It is always a gift to be together with women and men, lay and religious who are so committed to furthering the mission and message of the Sisters of St. Joseph. We are a faith-filled group, a hardworking group and also a fun-loving group. And we made time for all of this during our days together.

Pat Nelson, CSJ, from Los Angeles was our keynote speaker. I think she really got us all hooked on her message when she started by reading mission statements from various CSSJ congregations across the country. It was both astounding and affirming to hear how similar these statements are. We weren’t so much surprised as we were in awe of how we really are ONE – how women from diverse areas of the country who until recently have barely known each other – consistently come up with such similar language to express the core of who we are.

I published the latest issue of Soundings Update from California and am just now getting to post the link online. http://www.csjboston.org/su_June-10-2009.CV01.pdf
Even with all the ways I use technology, it never ceases to amaze me that I can actually do my ordinary office work three time zones away. The feature article in this issue is about The Literacy Connection, one of our nine Sponsored Ministries . Each spring they conclude their year with a celebration of gratitude and achievement for all who have been part of The Literacy Connection. It is always a dynamic celebration.

I thought I'd also share pictures to give a glimpse of the beauty of Southern California. Everywhere throughout the grounds of the center where we were meeting are spectacular flower gardens. I included this one at the left because for me it symbolizes the spirit of possibility and promise that seemed to permeate our gathering.

This is Seal Beach, CA. where we had supper one of the evenings during our conference.
Above is the restaurant where we ate. Below is the view from the pier at Seal Beach.

And...just in case anyone is wondering if we did any work...this Rob, the Communications Director for Orange, CA, displaying a summary of the work we're taking home as we continue the conversation...

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Sisters of St. Joseph Communicators Gather in California

This week I’m in Orange, California, for a meeting of the CSSJ Communicators group – the women and men who do various aspects of communications and public relations for the sixteen congregations of Sisters of St. Joseph throughout the United States. This group is part of the U.S. Federation of the Sisters of St Joseph and is considered an “interest group” according to the organizational structure of the federation. That just means that the communicators have gradually come together out of a need to communicate [no pun intended!] what one another is doing. We started meeting about 10 years ago before the annual conference of NCNWR [National Communicators Network of Women Religious] but eventually realized that was just not enough. This is the third year we’ve met outside the NCNWR conference time.

Only about half of the communicators were able to come but everyone seems committed to including those who can't be here in whatever way possible. Respecting the fact about half of us are from different time zones and our bodies are still adjusting to California time, we started slow. Last evening we had a simple yet beautiful prayer during which we were able to bring into the circle the communicators who are not here as well as many others for whom we wanted to pray.

The theme of this meeting is “Creative Collaboration – California Style.” Today we’ll really get into a bit more heavy-duty work – California style! Since last Fall we’ve done a fair amount of online work in preparation for these two days. All of us had input into how we wanted theses days to unfold. So often you go to workshops, leave with all kinds of wonderful resolutions, go home energized, get caught up in day-to-day responsibilities and little happens to the wonderful ideas and action plans. Our goal is to move beyond this all to familiar story.

The grounds here are beautiful. There are little gardens everywhere with unique sculpture. It seems to me that every garden, every sign, every piece of artwork says something either explicit or implicit about our CSSJ spirit and spirituality. Walking around the property is a feast for the spirit and soul.

Friday, June 5, 2009

H. RES. 441 Honoring the historical contributions of Catholic sisters in the United States.

On May 15 the Women and Spirit exhibit opened in Cincinnati. "WOMEN & SPIRIT: Catholic Sisters in America" is a traveling exhibit sponsored by the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) in association with Cincinnati Museum Center. It reveals the mystery behind a small group of independent American women who helped shape the nation’s social and cultural landscape.

The House of Representatives now wants to honor the contributions of Catholic Women Religious in the United States. Our community just received a letter asking that we contact our representatives and encourage them to sign on to H. Res 411.This is a resolution before the House of Representatives honoring the historical contributions of Catholic Sisters in the United States.
Here is a link on the LCWR website with information about the resolution:
You can write to your representative by going online to the following link:

The letter received today explains the following:
In mid-May Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur introduced a resolution to the US House of Representatives to draw attention to the impact of the contributions of Catholic sisters on the history of our nation. She has received a lot of support from many of her colleagues in Congress, but she would like to call further attention to what she feels is an important message by voting on it in the House of Representatives. In order to do this, she must collect at least 50 cosponsors. We are being asked to reach out to our local Representatives and urge them to become cosponsors of H.Res.441, honoring the historical contributions of Catholic Sisters in the United States. The deadline for cosponsorship is June 12, 2009.

A copy of Congresswomen Kaptur's letter to all other representatives is available on the LCWR website at http://www.lcwr.org/what%27snew/hrres.htm
If you have any questions, feel free to contact Representative Kaptur's legislative assistant, Kate Byrne, at kate.byrne@mail.house.gov or 202-225-4146.

I encourage all who read this to contact his/her representative and ask for sponsorship of this resolution.