Thursday, September 29, 2011

NCNWR & New Orleans with a CSJ twist!

The past few days at the Conference for the National Communicators Network for Women Religious has been wonderful. Everyone seems to be enjoying the city. There is so much to do and see. I tend to veer toward the less touristy sites. On Tuesday morning, Alison, who is a candidate for the Sisters of St. Joseph and a lawyer who works in this area, was gracious enough to bring me around to several really intersting places. Here are some pictures:

Tomb of the Unknown Slave at St. Augustine's Parish.
This is the oldest African American parish in the United States.

plaque to commemorating slaves at the church
These next two pictures are of the Backstreet Cultural Museum.
Here you can see costumes for an alternative Mardi Gras parade.
It is quite a contrast to Mardi Gras world which we visited as part of the conference

Congo Square has been a gathering place for Native Americans of New Orleans since before the French arrived. They continue to gather for drumming, dancing, and singing on Sunday afternoons.

Kathleen and Lori, both Sisters of St. Joseph minister at the St. Vincent de Paul ESL center.

Dorothy [left] is part of this year's Joseph Workers and works at the same center.
Alison [right] stopped to talk with her during our tour.

We also visited the office of Helen Prejean, CSJ. Helen is pictured here with Margaret [left] and Carolyn [right].
According to Helen, these are the people who make her ministry possible.
Helen was a keynote speaker at our conference.

Mardi Gras world was quite a contrast to the Backstreet Cultural Museum.

We dined at the New Olreans School of Cooking. This woman entertained us with stories as she prepared our dinner.
If you go with a group, be prepared...the chicken and shrimp eaters had to eat in different rooms. If you want to go with a friend, it would be wise to make the same dinner selection. 

The women pictured with Jackie [center] are the St. Joseph Workers for this year.


  1. With hardly a minute to read blogs any more, I smiled to myself as "bumped" into this as I sign on this morning... Very fortuitous!

    First of all, what fine photos! I love New Orleans, a place that I have not been to in many years. It is a most unique city.

    In any case, I was glad to see this post for many reasons. I am heartened by the work of women religious in general, and by the CSJ's in particular. And today I will make my way to the CSJ PH in Latham, NY to meet with my pastoral formation group. I am in the MA program at St. Bernard's School of Theology and Ministry in Albany, NY; our dean in Albany, Sr. Kitty Hanley, CSJ. The pastoral formation program is directed by Sr. Chris Partisano, CSJ.

    And my formation? The first ever formation using blogs and social networking as a form of pastoral ministry.

    So seeing how you use yours and seeing the faces of New Orleans, reminds me that we are the Body, many members, many places, yet One.

    Thanks and peace!

    (My pastoral formation blog is not the one I have my google ID with, it is Pastoral Postings. Feel free to stop by!

  2. Please do us all a good favor and explain why none of the "sisters" are wearing the habit. No umbrage hear, dear sister, but is it not more than weird that something that visibly defined your congregation for centuries is all of the sudden considered insignificant and even harmful to your religious identity (and that by the very community members themselves)?

    If I am correct - and I do invite your critique if I am not - your congregation is plagued with the ever-present "low-morale," and hardly any new vocations. While the newer congregations - which are more traditional - are imbued with happiness and even too many new vocations.

    Personally, I find your recent gatherings to be too self-congratulatory, especially since all is not well.

  3. Thank you for your feedback. I know several CSJs from Albany and have stayed at their provincial house several times.

  4. Dear Yabachia,
    Thank you for your comment. I don't know how much you know of the history of the Sisters of St. Joseph but our first sisters dressed as the women of their day. Although I am quite respectful of sisters who wear habits, the habit has never actually "defined" Sisters of St. Joseph. It is our spirit and spirituality that has defined our congregation.

    You speak of "low morale" -- I don't know how much time you've spent with Sisters of St. Joseph, but, believe me, we are far from being plagued by low morale.

    As for numbers entering, one of the presenters at this week's conference shared some well researched national statistics from a recent study. Here is the link to that study: -- The data from this study reveals that women are actually entering at the same rate to communities that do not wear a habit as they are to those communities who do wear a habit.

    As for your ending comment about being self-congratulatory: If you are referring to the NCNWR conference which why I'm in New Orleans, well, the whole mission of communicators for religious congregations is to promote understanding
    of women religious, enhance their image
    and advance their mission.

  5. Dear Yabachia,
    I am curious where you got your information about the Habit? Our first Sisters wore the common ordinary dress of the day and were not to draw any attention to themselves. Today, wearing a habit would do just that and be contrary to our purpose. Do not think that we Sisters did not cherish our Habits and were asked to make the sacrifice of changing. Do not think this was done lightly and without much prayer!

  6. As a reader of many Catholic blogs, I see so many posts from some corners of the world that seem overly concerned with the habit.

    When I was a little girl, growing up under with Sisters of the Divine Compassion guiding my religious education (I am 53, almost 54) I loved the long and all encompassing habits. As they began to change, I began to be confused - isn't all change like that? Then one day it did not matter any more.

    In any case, I see this through different eyes today, knowing sisters who both wear and do not wear the habit. We can't make an idol out of anything, regular clothing or a habit. Most of the sisters that I know are focused on their vocations and charism - ultimately focused on being Christ in the world for others.

    That is the best "outfit" of all - truly Sunday and everyday's best. Thanks be to God!