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Edition No. 44  June 8, 2017 
The Pilgrimage to Le Puy and Lyon
A Sacred Journey
May 2017
 
By Dolores Clerico SSJ
When we left for our Pilgrimage on May 23, we had no way of knowing just how graced our days walking in the footsteps of our founders would be for us. We climbed the steep, meandering cobblestone streets as we imaged the 17th-century surroundings of our early sisters. We stood in the small, simple kitchen that was their home and traced their steps up to the Cathedral and to St. Michel. We wondered where they got their stamina! We prayed in the Jesuit church where these women heard Jean Pierre Medaille, SJ, preach and we stood in silent reverence at the spot where many years later two sisters were led to the guillotine. We prayed; we shared the state of our hearts; we laughed and we cried; we ate lentils, crusty bread and plenty of cheeses; we drank wine in typical French style. We prayed for our Congregation, for those who sent us forth and for those who asked us to bring their intentions to the sacred city that is Le Puy-en-Velay. All along the way, we knew without a doubt that, by God’s grace, we were becoming more and more one and that we were being given what we need to live into our future as Sisters of Saint Joseph.

In our last days, we journeyed in the footsteps of Mother Saint John Fontbonne SSJ, passing through Bas-en-Basset and Monistrol on our way to Lyon. Here, we gathered in her bedroom, at her gravesite, and visited the church from which she sent forth the first sisters to North America. We asked to receive just a portion of her courage!

Now that we are home, our luggage is unpacked. However, we know that it will take some time to unpack all that we carry in our hearts and to allow the graces to carry us into the future. As the weeks unfold, we want to share more of our Pilgrimage experience so that the spirit of our founders might continue overflowing in our time and place. In the company of those who have gone before us, may we give flesh to God’s dream that all may be one!
 
The experience of our pilgrimage days in France — and all the anticipation of the year before and surely the days to follow -- are etched as sacred and will continue to teach each of us. The height and beauty of St. Michel and Notre Dame de France were matched, and maybe even minimized, by the depth and richness of our sharing and prayer. In years to come, we may lose the ability to climb those heights, but the depths we shared together will serve as a foundation for us to grow into our future together. What the original kitchen sharings did for the first six, these end-of-May-2017 days promise to do for the 19 of us...and for what we are to bring to our Congregation and mission and world. 
              Mary McFadden SSJ  
 
It is really hard for me to put into words our pilgrimage experience. It was neither a retreat nor a vacation. Truly, it was a sacred journey in time. I do believe that we all left very positive about our future as Sisters of Saint Joseph of Chestnut Hill. If these six women could do what they did, so can we. We need to be open to the grace that God is offering to us individually and as a Congregation.
              Jeanne McGowen SSJ
 
As I walked the cobbled stone streets of Le Puy-en-Velay, I found myself intrigued by the first six women. What did they see, with eyes open, and feel, with spirits alert, in a time of plagues, malnutrition and searching souls? The God of Great Love saw, too, and exploded into being the Congregation of God’s Great Love. I found myself walking with those first women, watching open windows without screens; standing in a small kitchen with a pot of soup to be offered to the dear neighbor who entered; companioning searching souls lying on the fever stone; sitting in prayer before the Black Madonna; and climbing St. Michel. I felt a quiet, inner glow, knowing deep in my heart, that the charism of the Sisters of Saint Joseph will continue. It carries God’s Great Love, so how could it not?
             Kate Bondura, SSJ  

During the years of my ministry at Centre International in Le Puy (2004-2009), I had the great joy of welcoming our CSSJ sisters, associates, and friends from around the globe. Each time I whispered a prayer that one day we would host a group of our Sisters from Chestnut Hill. Thanks to our present Council and Dolores Clerico SSJ, that dream of mine came true in this last week of May. We pilgrims walked in the footsteps of our first sisters, of Medaille, and of Mother St. John Fontbonne. In that short span of 10 days, our hearts have been changed, our love for the Congregation has been strengthened, and our sense of the unioning love to which each of us is called has been deepened. I/We are so very grateful for all!
             Sheila Holly SSJ
 
Photos courtesy Jeanne McGowan SSJ and Cathie Meighan SSJ
10th Annual Women’s Wellness Weekend
Saint Mary by-the-Sea
June 2-4, 2017
On the afternoon of June 2, 2017, the Women’s Wellness Weekend planning committee welcomed over forty women to Saint Mary by-the-Sea Retreat House in Cape May Point, New Jersey. Sponsored by the Development Office of the Sisters of Saint Joseph, this event provides women with interesting workshops, delicious meals, and fun socials in a beautiful setting — all focused on enhancing wellness of body, mind, soul and spirit. Sister Mary Barrar SSJ gave the keynote address on Saturday morning. She set the tone for the weekend as she spoke about the need for gratitude, compassion and beauty in our lives. “Gratitude is the foundation of a whole and holy life,” Sister Mary proclaimed to all present. Indeed, participants expressed their gratitude for the delightful hospitality, inspiration, information, great weather, and beauty of nature that surrounds all who spend time at Saint Mary by-the-Sea.

“The whole weekend went very smoothly,” said Sister Kathy Pales SSJ , Development Director. “I think our guests especially enjoyed the excellent workshops on every topic from Finding Work-Life Balance to Supporting Your Lymphatic System to Aromatherapy . Our Saturday night social was a Hawaiian Luau, and we shared a great time wearing our grass skirts and doing the hula. There really is something to learn and enjoy for everyone at these weekends.”

Proceeds from the Women’s Wellness Weekends benefit the retired Sisters of Saint Joseph. The next Women’s Wellness Weekend will be held September 8-10, 2017. Registrations are being accepted.
Pentecost Sunday
Saint Joseph Villa
June 4, 2017
 
Wearing red vestments for the feast of Pentecost, Father Michael Kelly celebrated Mass at Saint Joseph Villa on Sunday, June 4, 2017.

Tom Bruno, a good friend of many at the Villa, attended the Mass and brought something special — one of his homing pigeons from Norristown, PA. Tom, his wife Maryann and the dove joined all present for Mass in the Villa Chapel.

After the Mass everyone processed outside, with anticipation, to the front circle of the Villa where the dove was released.
 
Photos courtesy Louise Kane SSJ
"We model our lives together on the life of the Trinity: by desiring always to respond to the Father's gift of life; by seeking to imitate the Son's humility and self-emptying love; by trying to know and express God's love in our lives through the action of the Holy Spirit. "
                                                                                — SSJ Constitutions #9

Editor, Sister Carole Pollock SSJ | 215.248.7269 | cpollock@ssjphila.org | http://ssjphila.org/home/