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.

CSJ Associates' 25 years & Bethany HCC 50 years!

At the Associates' Anniverary Celebration,
each received one o the pins pictured here.
It was designed by one of our sisters. 
Our latest issue of Soundings Update is now on online. The link says September 21 but it really brings you to the September 27 issue. This issue reports on our CSJ Associates' 25th Anniversary Celebration and the 50th Anniversary of Bethany Health Care Center. Channel 5, a major local TV station offered a great segment on their news show called Chonical. You can view that as well at . The program may take a little time to load so be patiend.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

CSJs and NCNWR Conference-New Orleans

The National Communicators Network for Women Religious [NCNWR] meets in New Orleans this week. I arrived a day early to visit with CSJs in the area and learn a little about the ever present memory of hurricaine Katrina on this area.

Yesterday Ily picked me up. We did a couple of tourist-type things but mostly things that tourists may not see. I'll try to let the pictures tell the story!
A Typical scene in the picturesque French Quarter

The Mirabeau CSJ Motherhouse was completely destroyed. No sooner had it been restored than a fire destroyed the entire building. All that remains is this lemon tree and the logo in the next picture

Logo from the floor of the CSJ Mirabeau building

a house directly across from the CSJ property. Note the "Do not demolish" sign

This kind of devastation is also typical around the city. Although much has been done, much remains to be done.

A post-Katrina success story. These house have been rebuilt through generous grants and the work of Habitat for Humanity. The section is called "Musicians' Village"

After Katrina, the CSJs relocated offices to another place. There is a lot going on here. The People Program alone had about 70 people doing all sorts of things when we were there.

Jackie, Ily, and I stopped for lunch near Lake Pontchartrain

We visited the Ursuline Convent. When our sisters came to the U.S. in 1836 they stayed with the Ursuline's before heading up the Mississippi to St. Louis.

These chairs seem to be the only thing in the Ursuline Convent today that is from the original convent. Could our first sisters have sat on these very chairs.

Of course I shopped! This is Oscar who has been selling jewelry and other crafts in the French Market for three decades. He was delighted that I had heard about his crafts from a friend and sought out his booth.

I purchased a couple of T-Shirts here because this woman both designs, makes, and sells them. They are different from all thethe more commercial T-Shirts I saw while walking around. Most of the other stores seem to sell basically the same styles.

Sunrise from my hotel room. I got up early to work on this blog post!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Soundings Update

The September 14, 2011 Soundings Update is available at
This issue features pictures and a brief article about our 50th Jubilee Celebration.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Sister of St. Joseph's Jubilee Reflections

Yesterday our sisters who entered in 1961 celebrated their Golden Jubilee. This weeks issue of Soundings Update will be available in a few days. In the meantime I've created a link to the Jubilee Reflections by one of the jubilee group -- or "party" as Boston CSJs call the group with whom we entered!
Jubilee Reflections

Friday, September 9, 2011

remembering 9/11 -- something our souls need

Our news this week is filled with stories and images in remembrance of the 10th anniversary of 9/11. It seems as if our hearts and souls and minds need to be with the memories and live into hopes for the future. I've received quite a few email with reflections and invitations to 10th anniversary events. In a way it's almost overwhelming.

However a link to a special edition of the Congregation of St. Joseph's e-newsletter showed up on my Facebook page this afternoon. It is quite simple but very powerful. If you click through to the e-newsletter, you can also click a short video that remembers the faces of those whose lives ended because of 9/11.

I also have to explain the picture in this post. I took it today at a  beach in Plymouth. I had been at a meeting in the area and drove down this little road where my parents almost purchased a summer cottage when I was five years old. When they put their feet in the water and discovered how cold it was, the deal was off and they continued on the "sound side" of Cape Cod where the water is warmer. But I vividly recall that day and never forgot that beach.

So much converged in those few minutes at this beach today -- childhood memories of a five-year-old who was surrounded by trust -- the non-stop news coverage of the 9/11 anniversary and newly discovered terrorist threats -- the realization that this beautiful space spans the shadow of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant -- and then this idyllic scene of a majestic flag, cloud swept sky, post-storm ocean, and eroding shoreline in the midst of it all. It gave me goose bumps...seared my soul...offered opportunity for rich contemplation as I headed home.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Soundings Update Summer 2011, Bethany Health Care's 50th, and moving!

Well it's been a busy three weeks. I live in community with two other sisters and we moved two weeks ago. We're in a slightly smaller but very comfortable house and the process of pruning and sorting was really good. I learned that in order to get an estimate of the length of time and cost of the move we needed to inventory literally every stick of furniture in our home -- tedious and time consuming!

Moving day was quite a spectacle. Our friends...mostly sisters and associates...were everywhere doing the last minute packing of the former house, helping place furniture in the new house, arranging for meals, unpacking boxes, setting up the phone and computer, and endless other little but necessary jobs. The neighbors we've met so far seem really nice. I wish I had taken pictures but everyone was so busy there just wasn't time. I should also commend the moving company, Gentle Giant. The four young men who moved us were amazing. I don't think they ever took a break other than to stop for lunch. They were patient, courteous, careful, and considerate.

In the midst of it all I was actually able to publish the summer issue of Soundings Update. It's available at this link:
This issue talks a about our Volunteers in Mission Program that happened in late June and the CSSJ Federation Event in which over 80 of sisters participated. There were several posts about that in the summer and there's a link to the Event website in the upper right section of this blog.

On September 22, Bethany Health Care Center, a CSJ Sponsored Ministry where many of our infirm sisters live, is celebrating 50 years of the "New" Bethany. There will be a big celebration at the Newton, Marriot. It's not too late to purchase tickets to this event or for the car raffle that is also happening as part of the 50th celebration. Just visit Bethany's website at:

As Director of Communication for our congregation, I am no longer on a traditional academic schedule. But even though summer doesn't officially end until September 21,  there seems to be something embedded in our culture that signals the end of summer when when the school buses start rolling around the corner and the crisp new pencils are poised for action.

And so here we are -- back to business as usual -- whatever that is!!! More and more life rarely seems to be "usual." Every day holds something new.