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Edition No. 165— March 31, 2021 
Archbishop Perez Visits Zoom
by Julie Gabell, SSJ Associate
Zoomers gathered on Monday, March 22, 2021 for a meeting with invited guest Archbishop Nelson Perez. The discussion gave members a chance to experience the Bishop’s approachable and relaxed manor and, in turn, gave him an opportunity to glimpse what associates and retired sisters at the Villa are contributing to the work of the Church. An overview of weekly Zoom activities included our examination of Pope Francis’ encyclical Fratelli Tutti and touched on related topics such as Black Lives Matter and the Poor People’s Campaign. Several members gave brief summaries of our discussions of restorative justice, and capital punishment. They concluded with a variety of topics such as systemic racism, immigration, and Native American injustices.
By the end of our time together, both the Archbishop and Villa Zoomers had concluded that the interview was a win-win situation for all involved.
by Julie Gabell, SSJ Associate
There is something comforting about the word “solidarity.” It infuses us with a sense of belonging; the knowledge that wherever we are and whatever we are doing, a common purpose unites us. This is a gift, one freely accessible to those who espouse the value of sisterhood and brotherhood. In their most recent discussion Villa Zoomers shared times when such moments of universal bonding had graced their lives.

There are others, however, who face lives far less fortunate. It is to those that Pope Francis directs our attention in Fratelli Tutti when he admonishes that “True solidarity is born of consciousness that we are responsible for one another and for our earth.” It means combatting the structural causes of poverty and inequality, confronting the denial of social and labor rights, and fighting the destructive effects of a world mired in its quest for money. In other words, authentic solidarity finds concrete expression in our mutual commitment to building a better future. 

How do we, Villa Zoomers, factor into this equation?

During this Easter season, as our world appears to topple in on itself and chip away at truths we had long considered set in stone, we look to the renewed optimism of the Resurrection. It is there at the feet of the Triumphant Christ that we return to the Source of all solidarity and hope for the future. It is there that we find the peace and courage to continue God’s work on earth.
Lenten Retreat Evening
Embracing Darkness/Light: Keeping Vigil with the Women at Jesus’ Cross and Tomb
Sister Mary Kay Flannery SSJ
March 27, 2021
As we approached the beginning of Holy Week, Sister Mary Kay Flannery SSJ, led a contemplative, guided meditation on the theme of "Keeping Vigil with the Women at Jesus' Cross/Tomb.” Alongside her reflections, each section of the retreat was creatively interwoven with prayer, music, poetry, and reflection questions.

Sister Mary Kay opened the evening retreat with a reflection on the act of "vigiling" and an invitation to remember all the times throughout our lives that we "kept vigil," and what it asked of us. She then reflected on Jesus' experience in the garden of Gethsemane, and the inability of the disciples  to "stay awake" and keep vigil with Jesus at his darkest hour. This led into a reflection on this past year of the pandemic and the loss of this precious gift of vigiling that so many families experienced as their loved ones died in a hospital bed far away from their loved ones. An unexpected grace was to witness "strangers" lovingly assuming this role—nurses, doctors, chaplains—and how grateful so many people have been for these "angels" in our lives.

Sister Mary Kay then led the retreat participants to reflect on the stories of three women who played a special role in Jesus' life and who faithfully stayed close by Jesus during his passion, crucifixion and burial. The three women were Salome, the wife of the fisherman, Zebedee, Mary of Magdala and Mary, the mother of Jesus. 

Sister Mary Kay wove many examples from our current social context into her retreat presentation, such as the tragic examples of recurring violence on our streets and in the places we frequent in our everyday life—schools, churches, synagogues, mosques, grocery stores, etc. The injustice of the death penalty, as well as white privilege/racist behavior and gender bias/oppression, were given as examples of personal and communal "laments" that we were invited to place at the foot of Jesus' cross, and to seek forgiveness.

The retreat evening closed with intercessory prayer, Jan's Richardson's poem, "Prayer for All Things Rising,” and the echo of Amanda Gorman's closing lines to her poem, The Hill We Climb." "For there is always light, if only we're brave enough to SEE it. If only we're brave enough to BE it." The closing hymn, with a resurrection theme, was "BE A LIGHT," and it was movingly sung by the beautiful Children's Choir, "Voices of Hope."
Participants were asked to reflect on the experience of the Retreat. Several responses are featured below:
I really never thought much about the word "vigiling.” Sister Mary Kay made me realize all the vigiling I have done through my life, and the people I had sat vigil for. Mary Kay also brought to mind all the regrets that I need to place before Jesus. Her reflection questions were very profound and touched deep to the heart and soul. Also I was touched especially by Mary Mother of Sorrows. I am so thankful that I attended the Retreat!                       
                                   —Kathleen Giambanco SSJ Associate in Mission

I've had many reflections since Sister Mary Kay's retreat experience, especially, what it means to me to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ.  In good times and times of difficulty, a true disciple is ever hopeful and trusts in the promise of God.  
                                                 —Marlene Gaudio SSJ Associate in Mission

The evening stirred up memories quite clear to me. I spent hours in vigil at the beds of my younger sister and my dear Aunt Nora. These times were in such contrast to the deaths of my Mother and Father. My mother died in her sleep. I barely got to my Dad’s hospital bed when he died. The whole theme of vigiling is near to my heart.   
                                                                                         —Pat Looney SSJ

I am encouraged to spend Holy Week with the women of the Gospel with a sense of stillness, silence and longing. The movement of these women as they ran, watched and stayed with Jesus is allowing me to ‘vigil with and in the Light of Jesus’. So I began with: What do you want of ME? I am ending with: I was with YOU!            
                                                                                   —Francis Christi SSJ          

I absolutely loved Mary Kay’s presentation on keeping vigil. What a perfect way to begin Holy Week Prayer—with the women who stayed, with the women who renewed their awareness of who they are and weren’t afraid to risk everything for their belief.   
                                                                                     —Donna  Miller SSJ                                              
Laudato Sí Reflection for April 4, 2021
Sisters of Saint Joseph serving on the Chapter Implementation Subcommittee for Directive II, offer this excerpt from Laudato Sí and questions that you can use for your personal reflection, local community sharing, or another creative way you can incorporate these into your life. Enjoy this week's reflection.
Celtic Golf Raffle 2021
Win a trip for two to Ireland! Tickets for our annual Celtic Golf Raffle are now available! Visit for more information and to purchase chances to win.
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"With the help of God's grace and in fidelity to our founder's expressed wish, we live and work lovingly among all persons with a special preference for those who are poor, which calls us wherever we are to be in union with them."
                         — SSJ Constitutions #21
Editor, Sister Carole Pollock SSJ | 215.248.7269 | |