Latest News from the Sisters of Saint Joseph

SSJ E-NEWS is available for viewing on the SSJ website.

Edition No. 39  April 27, 2017 
Gleaning Our Wisdom
For the Sake of the World
Sister Janet Mock CSJ
SugarLoaf Campus   April 23, 2017
In response to an invitation from Sister Eileen Dorothy Maguire SSJ, on Sunday, April 23, 2017, SSJs 64ish to 75ish gathered at the SugarLoaf Campus of Chestnut Hill College. Presenter/Facilitator Sister Janet Mock CSJ, led the morning reflection and sharing on the meaning of life, living out mission in ministry, and how our life and mission will continue to unfold in the future.

Sisters began by sharing responses to questions we face at this time in our lives, with the underlying challenge of perhaps doing less but being more. As Janet pointed out, “The body gives out but you have all this wisdom that comes from life experience — and that is no mistake. It is a time in your lives to let that wisdom and presence be a gift to the world and the world badly needs it. The depth of your spirituality and the power of your presence are very strong. While you can’t do the things you did at 30 and 40 you can do things that you did not have the capacity to do when you were 30 and 40. You have a wisdom that you couldn’t have had at that time in your life and it is precisely what is needed for this time.

Referring to a professor from the University of Chicago who wrote about the stature of a soul , Janet pondered with us the questions that we should be asking at this time in our lives.

Are you open to new relationships?

What is the volume of life you can take into your being and still maintain your integrity and individuality?

How can you be compassionate with yourself but let down the wall, so you can interact honestly and lovingly?

Is this time in your life making you more generative? Are you passing on what you have learned?

How much personal grief can you absorb?

What helps you to stay in touch with your inner core— still consenting to what God is asking of you?

How do you bring the best wisdom and the best compassion to yourself right now?

How can you learn with and from those younger than you?

Can you accept what looks like diminishment on the outside and bring to the conversation the wealth of spirituality and wisdom that is on the inside — moving toward what you have, not what you have lost?

In closing, Janet invited us to live out of who we are not who we used to be . She says, “Embrace that same call that each of you received long ago, but receive daily — again and again.”
Click here to view live streaming of presentation by Sister Janet Mock CSJ 
SugarLoaf Campus 
Rediscovering Fire
A Conversation with Brother Sean Sammon, FMS
NRVC Delaware Valley Member Area
April 25, 2017
On Tuesday, April 25, 2017, Sister Celeste Mokrzycki SSJ, and Sister Michelle Lesher SSJ Co-directors of Vocation Ministry, hosted an NRVC (National Religious Vocation Conference) workshop for Congregational Leaders, Vocation/Formation Directors & Teams and Congregational and Collegiate Mission and Ministry Leaders. The guest speaker, Marist Brother Sean Sammon, FMS, addressed the call to Rediscover the Fire of Vocation.

Celeste explained the decision to focus on this topic. “Last year we received resources from the NRVC that identified eight critical issues that need to be addressed by congregations as they plan to move forward into the future. The Delaware Valley Member Area, of which our Congregation is a member, chose to focus on two of those issues, which we saw as vital: energizing our congregations about a culture of vocation and engaging in an honest discussion with Congregational and Collegiate leaders to determine our present situation and how we can more effectively work together. As a voice of hope, we invited Brother Sean Sammon, FSM, an internationally known speaker on issues related to religious life and vocations, to share his insights regarding these two vital topics.

“I am one of those people,” Brother Sean began,“ who is very optimistic about the future of religious life in spite of the pessimism that exists in some areas with the focus on diminishment. I believe firmly that we are exactly where we should be in the process of renewal.”

He went on to propose two critical questions: “ First, do you believe that your congregation has a future? If you don’t believe that — no one is going to come. Second, are you aware of the poverty of evangelization that exists among many young people today? You and your congregation must be willing to focus on persons, presence, and prayer when presenting religious life and must have good enough examples of each.

Religious life is meant to be the Church’s living memory of what it can be, longs to be, and must be. Religious life at its best serves as a conscience for the Church.

Fidelity to the present time requires a personal ability to change and to be disturbed. Without it, there is little value in renewing structures. To undertaking this journey a brother or sister needs to be contemplative.”

Brother Sean envisions three outcomes for our congregations as we look to the future:
  • Extinction – some congregations have served their purpose in the Church and they go out of existence.
  • Minimal survival – This is when there are fewer members. This doesn’t mean that the Congregation is less vital.
  • Transformation and renewal— what many congregations are struggling to face today.
He continued, “For genuine renewal, we have to reclaim our founding charism. Charism is not about structures or institutions. Charism is the presence of the Holy Spirit and that is why it is so hard to define. We must respond courageously to the absolute needs of today. That is what our founders did. Finally, we must allow ourselves the experience of personal and congregational conversion (a change of heart).

We must ask ourselves the fundamental question of renewal:
Do you and I really believe that the Spirit of God, who was so alive and active in your founding person and mine, longs to live and breathe in you and me today? For, as religious, we are meant to be, first and foremost, mediators of God’s love .” 
From left: Celeste Mokrzycki SSJ, Sean Sammon, FMS and Christopher Wagner, OSF.
From left: Paula Nowak, OSF, Sean Sammon, FMS and Michelle Lesher SSJ.
Those of us
in Religious Life today
would do well to rediscover fire,
the fire that was there
at the time of the foundation
of our congregation…
  When we find it for ourselves,
young people will come
once again
to our way of life.
They have in the past;
they will in the future—
have no doubt.

                                     Adapted from Brother Sean Sammon, FMS            
"Totally dependent on God's grace, we are led by the Holy Spirit to identify with Jesus in his self-emptying, so that, drawn ever more fully into the mystery of his death and resurrection, we may die to self and live in God and for others. "
                                                                                — SSJ Constitutions #7

Editor, Sister Carole Pollock SSJ | 215.248.7269 | |