F A L L 2 0 0 8 P A RT N E R S H I P S
POSSUMUS We Can
A Publication of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet Ministries Foundation
Being human always points, and is directed, to something, or someone, other than oneself— be it a meaning to fulfill or another human being to encounter. The more one forgets himself— by giving himself to a cause to serve another person to love—the more human he is and the more he actualizes himself. from Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl
Possumus is Latin for we can. It sums up the drive and willpower that identifies the Sisters of St. Joseph as one of the most influential non-profit organizations working in Minnesota in the past 150 years.
In order to do our chosen work and fulfill our mission, the Sisters of St. Joseph form a multitude of partnerships with others inside and outside our organization. Many people, working together, can accomplish far more than one person can alone. That much is obvious. But when you hold our partnerships up to the light for closer examination, you see facets and depths in them that might surprise you. Perhaps that’s because the Sisters of St. Joseph define partnership in a less conventional way than the rest of the world does. To the Sisters, a partnership is not just a collaboration or even a networking alliance. Instead, our partnerships are grounded in human relationships ——transformative relationships. People on both sides of the relationship grow and are changed. Their former selves cease to exist. And for our work to be sustainable, we must be transformed by the relationship. In a partnership, we seek mutuality of interests. That mutuality is transformed not by doing for but rather by doing with the other. A true partnership should lead each of us to say, “I went to help, but in the end, I was the one helped.” Our work is to create relationships that transform all of us, so that the human faces we see and the stories we hear help us move past the fear of the other, and we begin to trust one another. That’s what this issue of Possumus is all about. Continue the conversation at www.csjministriesfoundation.org/partnerships. Thanks for reading. Possumus. We can! Sister Irene O’Neill, CSJ Executive Director Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet Ministries Foundation
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WORKING ON A HEALTHIER COMMUNITY. It was an auspicious moment for Twin Cities’ health care when Sister Mary Madonna Ashton, then the Executive Director of St. Mary’s Health Clinics, sat down for breakfast at the Minneapolis Club with Michael “Mick” Johnson, President of the Park Nicollet Foundation. “I talked about our desire to serve the community, and she talked about the needs of St. Mary’s Clinics,” Mick tells us. Over toast and coffee a transformative partnership was born between St. Mary’s Health Clinics and the entity known as Park Nicollet Health Services. But what was it that brought this nun and this Foundation leader to the breakfast table in the first place?
To answer that question, we must look at the original purpose and business model of St. Mary’s Health Clinics. Way back in 1853, during a cholera epidemic that claimed thousands of lives, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet saw the need to open a hospital in St. Paul. They called it St. Joseph’s. The Sisters were teachers. They knew nothing about delivering health care or running hospitals, yet their can-do attitude prevailed. In 1992, the Sisters finally relinquished the bricks and mortar of St. Joseph’s, when they sold the hospital to HealthEast. At the same time, they set out to find a new way to fulfill their mission: to provide health care services free of charge to those who are medically underserved and uninsured. This time around, they took that mission to the streets and neighborhoods of the city. “They went where the need was,” says Barbara Dickie, Executive Director of the clinics.
Born of necessity The first St. Mary’s Health Clinic (SMHC) opened in 1992. It was staffed with loyal volunteers, many from the medical staff at St. Joseph’s. You might say those 30 volunteers were SMHC’s first partnership ever. Today 11 free community clinic
sessions, staffed by 200 volunteers, operate in nine sites throughout the Twin Cities metropolitan area ——three in St. Paul, two in Minneapolis and four in the suburbs. Rather than owning these clinic locations, the Sisters borrow them for a few hours each week from schools and churches (and even other clinics) that generously donate their time and space. One of these CSJ-operated clinics is located in the Midway area in St. Paul. Every other day of the week, it is the Seton OB/GYN clinic. But Tuesday afternoons St. Mary’s Health Clinic sign goes up and uninsured patients who have nowhere else to turn for primary care are welcomed in. A visit to the SMHC clinic is remarkable mostly for how unremarkable it is. In the small outer lobby, a middle-aged woman waits for her son who is in with the doctor. Later, a young mother comes in with two little girls in tow, who immediately are drawn to the marble maze in the corner. Beyond the waiting room door, there are two exam rooms. Today a doctor, a nurse practitioner and two RNs are in attendance. They volunteer their time, but there is nothing about the care here that screams free, poor, second-rate
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volunteer clinics as part of their community connectivity mission. Eventually, one of the physicians who had been helping out at the clinic came to talk to Mick. “We’d rather not see a poor patient or a rich patient. We’d actually just like to see a patient,” the doctor explained. Then he asked why he couldn’t simply see St. Mary’s patients at his own clinic, mixed in with his regular paying patients. “At the same time,” Barbara Dickie tells us, “SMHC was looking for new geography, a way to bring our clinics to areas of town where new populations in need were growing.” Putting St. Mary’s patients into existing Park Nicollet clinics turned out to be just what the doctor ordered. Literally. Mick explains how the partnership works at Park Nicollet clinic locations: “St. Mary’s triages the patients. They take the call, find the transportation, get reimbursement lined up, and locate a translator if one is needed. We want to serve these populations, but we’re not equipped here to do any of that.” Regardless of which type of clinic a St. Mary’s patient eventually goes to, SMHC has full responsibility for screening them in advance. The admissions staff fields 26,000 calls a year. The staff members talk to the potential patients on the phone. They assess the medical problems and check the callers’ financials to make sure they are indeed uninsured and unable to obtain health care anywhere else. When they are found to be eligible for government programs, the social services staff helps them apply for MNCare or county medical assistance, to defray some of the cost of care. It cost Park Nicollet $2.3 million to see St. Mary’s patients last year. But because they can
or handout. “To us, these aren’t poor people or uninsured people or minority people. They’re just patients, sick people,” says Sandy Morisette, RN. “I know they’re grateful for the support of the CSJs, and I certainly am, too. Without it, they’d get no care at all.” Dr. Bradley Heltemes is a doctor of internal medicine. Most of the time, you’ll find him behind a desk assessing insurance needs at ING. But, for nine years, he’s been volunteering once or twice a month at SMHC. He says it’s his chance to practice hands-on medicine. “We may have limited resources to work with here,” he says, ”but we also have very appreciative patients.” For many of his repeat patients, Dr. Heltemes is their family doctor, and he knows very well how vital his care is to them.
What the doctor ordered But not all St. Mary’s Clinics patients receive care at clinics the Sisters manage. That breakfast meeting between Sister Mary Madonna and Mick Johnson soon resulted in a new business model for SMHC, one that exists today alongside the 11 volunteer-staffed clinics. At SMHC, it’s known as the Park Nicollet model. Like all the Sisters’ partnerships, it works to the benefit of both parties involved. Mick Johnson remembers how it began. Park Nicollet had been staffing one of St. Mary’s
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track those patients in their database, that expense doesn’t get written off as bad debt. Instead, it goes into Park Nicollet’s books as charitable giving——an important distinction for a nonprofit health care provider to be able to make.
Strength in numbers While SMHC’s partnership with Park Nicollet is a valuable one, it’s not the only one. Local hospital systems Fairview and HealthEast also partner with the clinics to help extend their reach into previously underserved neighborhoods. Seven hospitals in the metro area offer outpatient and in-patient services at discounted rates. Local pharmacies help, too. “So let’s see, to hold our clinics, we partner with the county, the hospitals, the clinics, the specialty practices, the volunteers, the churches and schools ——have I left anyone out?” asks Barbara. In fact, she has. SMHC also partners with the Minnesota Department of Health on a program called Healthy Connections, which bestows federal grant money on those willing to deliver preventative health care to ethnic populations. Because of the strong CSJ presence in their neighborhoods, SMHC chose the Latino population as their focus. “Uninsured Latinos should be able to benefit from whatever preventive care is available,” says Barbara, ”just like the rest of us.” To help prevent the diabetes so prevalent among Latinos, SMHC provides regular screenings at churches. That’s just one example of the care SMHC delivers regularly to this underserved population.
When all this began, the Sisters envisioned that the need to provide health care for the uninsured would be temporary. In fact, they planned to operate the clinics only until universal health care was enacted. Sadly, there is still a need for St. Mary’s clinics. A huge need, it seems. During the 12-month period that ended June 30, 2007, 5,320 patient visits were recorded in the volunteer-staffed clinics and 7142 patients were seen at Park Nicollet clinics. There were also 7246 prescriptions filled at partner pharmacies and hospitals, 703 hospital referrals made, and 1131 first time specialist physician visits scheduled. All of this cost SMHC only $250 a year per patient. Remarkable, when you consider the cost of health care these days. “We know how to stretch a dollar,” Barbara says. They do indeed. An impressive 93% of the SMHC budget goes to patient services; only 7% to administration.
A win-win-win-win situation But of course the real beauty of this CSJ partnership story is that, in the end, everybody wins. It’s obvious that the patients get quality health care they couldn’t get otherwise, and for that they are very grateful. As for the volunteers, “they’re given the opportunity to practice medicine the way they idealized originally,” says Barbara. Park Nicollet and the other clinic partners get invaluable ——yet cost effective ——help achieving their community outreach goals. And what do the Sisters gain? Well, let’s just say any day is a good day when you can involve hundreds of people who aren’t Sisters to help you in your mission--to improve the quality of life for the “dear neighbor.” ✝
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artnerships transform us.
A Chinese proverb says, “If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach him how to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.” But either way puts you in a superior position rather than in a position of mutuality. What if you went fishing together instead, and during your time together you told stories, developed a relationship, perhaps even came up with a more creative way to fish? We might call that “partnership.” That is what Sisters of St. Joseph do naturally. It is also the spirit of the United Nations Millennium Development Goal #8, which calls on first-world nations to partner with developing nations. In the beginning, the Sisters of St. Joseph “divided the city” and went out to discover what the people who were poor needed. Then the Sisters would work with those people to alleviate the need, or else find others who could accomplish what was beyond their capability. A story that has come down to us pictures the early Sisters sitting in a circle making lace with prostitutes and other women in need of a marketable skill. Together, they engaged in “sharing of the heart,” our CSJ tradition of sharing personal stories. In the process, both groups of women were transformed. Today the “city” has become the whole world and the sharing might be called “deep listening.” Our partnerships use new language and methods, yet the process is relatively the same.
For example, Sister Rosita Aranita, CSJ, and two St. Joseph Workers recently traveled to Kenya to explore ways to help Kenyans access clean water. They went there thinking new wells would be at least part of the answer. However, by working with the people and their leaders, they uncovered two other central needs: 1) the education of young women, and 2) help for grandmothers who struggle to care for grandchildren orphaned by AIDS. Their transformation was extended to our entire CSJ community. As a result, we initiated the Grandmother Project to help the courageous Kenyan elders. Of course, the CSJ charism to serve the dear neighbor without distinction calls for working toward eradicating poverty of all kinds: poverty of health care, education, and work; poverty caused by discrimination, sexism and religious intolerance. Worldwide poverty is so great that it threatens to overwhelm our best intentions. We cannot do it alone. We never could. That’s why our charism calls us to form partnerships and transform relationships. Through our partnerships, people on all sides share, grow, work together for sustainable change, and are personally changed in the process. ✝ Sister Liz Kerwin, CSJ
earning about the other.
Other than becoming a CSJ, I’d have to say the call to work with immigrants at Annunciation House in El Paso, Texas, was a powerful turning point for me. That was in 1986. As a Family Nurse Practitioner, I began working with Spanish speaking people who were in migration. I found a culture I loved, and felt so at home with the elderly Hispanic folks. But a book called Enrique’s Journey that I read in the spring of last year brought me first to tears and then to the Albergue Jesus el Buen Pastor in Tapachula, Mexico. At the Albergue, a shelter on the border with Guatemala, we care for people who have been injured on their journey north. These are people who have had traumatic injuries and amputations. As a volunteer, I do whatever I can to keep the Albergue going. Caring for guests, doing social work, earning income, maintaining the shelter itself. I work for Doña Olga Sanchez Martinez, the founder of the Albergue. I live with her family, too. I don’t know if you would call our relationship a partnership, because I work for her. I think of a partnership as people working as equals. Each person doing the part he or she is most suited for. We all have a piece to play in this world; we’re all a part of the same story. The
Albergue guests are recipients, but at the same time, they serve others with their support and encouragement. They demonstrate to us what can be. There are no pity parties here! There is a lot of loving and caring and expectation that everyone participates in making this work. I feel good when we sit around the table at night and talk about what happened that day and plan for the next day. At those times I see how we’re all interconnected. I’m learning from our guests how to be more trusting and generous, that what I have will be enough for what is needed. What do they learn from me? I have no idea. I never know what effect I will have. I do know that we learn from each other’s lives. And each of us is not here building the reign of God alone. There is a story of a man who laid tiles for church buildings. When asked what he did for a living, he did not say he laid tiles. He said he built cathedrals. In the same way, by contributing our gifts to the world, all of us do our part and eventually the cathedral gets built. ✝ Sister Lilly Long, CSJ
In a field behind Carondelet Center, past the vegetable garden, there is a labyrinth 77-feet across, its form etched permanently into the earth by the many feet that have walked its winding path over the years. One fine summer morning, a small crowd of men and women gathers here to celebrate the Feast of Mary Magdalene with spices and scripture, music and sacred movement. As they stand together around the circle, all the participants in this annual ritual—— nuns, consociates, organizers, performers and guests —— are spinners of the web of spiritual partnerships that is known to the Sisters as Wisdom Ways.
In fact, the Wisdom Ways Center for Spirituality began life as a partnership. In 1994, the College of St. Catherine saw the need for a theology center, a sort of adult education program revolving around matters of the spirit. In a collaborative effort with the Sisters of St. Joseph, they initiated an outreach program focused on feminist theology——an area of study often neglected by churches. In 2004, the Sisters of St. Joseph took over Wisdom Ways, making it one of their own ministries. Today, Wisdom Ways operates a full year-round calendar of seminars, events, retreats and celebrations that attract spiritual seekers of both sexes, all ages, and all walks of life. Not content simply to show up at Saturday or Sunday services, these spiritual seekers come to Wisdom Ways hoping to find more knowledge, more fellowship and a closer relationship with the divine
in a place that’s credible and safe. Our participants say they enjoy the ritual —— the color, the music, the poetry ——as well as the in-depth scholarship. They say all that makes them feel more connected.” The connection that participants speak of refers to the relationship between the individual and his or her own spiritual source. At Wisdom Ways, that source may be called God with a capital G, or Allah, Jehovah, life force, light, energy, what have you. In fact, only about half of all Wisdom Ways participants claim to be Catholic; many claim no religious affiliation whatsoever. “If you’re comfortable with people of all faith backgrounds,” says Julie, “then you’ll be comfortable here.” But whatever form or name their particular spiritual source may take, people come to Wisdom Ways looking to heighten their connection to it. It’s no coincidence that the Sisters define this intensifying of the spiritual connection in their Acts of Chapter (see page 14), where it is referred to as
Connection to the core Julie Remington, Associate Director of Wisdom Ways, describes the kind of people who attend the varied programs. “They’re curious about a different viewpoint than the one they’ve been taught. They want to explore beyond the known
“participat[ing] in the Mystery of Transformation.” In other words, the Wisdom Ways ministry exists at the very heart of what the Sisters are all about. You might say its core purpose is to enhance that singular transformative relationship with the divine on which all other CSJ partnerships are built.
Spirituality for the real world But if you’re picturing a group of people sitting around a campfire contemplating their innermost selves, think again. That’s certainly not what the Sisters have in mind when they talk about spirituality and transformation. They don’t want spirituality to take people to another world. They want it to ground them in this one. “Wisdom Ways has created a community of people who have an interest in integrating their spirituality with their work and their lives,” says Sister Joan Mitchell, who teaches classes every year for Wisdom Ways. “In that sense, it is totally external. In our classes, we always ask: ‘What do we carry from here into the world?’ We challenge people to use their spiritual knowledge to become leaders in the community, to do what’s right for the dear neighbor.” “I think the spirituality of Wisdom Ways lets you see what’s around you. What’s concrete, what’s real,” says Wisdom Ways Director Barbara Lund. “It helps you connect. It takes down the barrier between you and the rest of the world,” Recently hired by the CSJs to run the Wisdom Ways Center, Barbara also happens to be an ordained Lutheran
minister. She’s another testament to the Sisters’ ecumenical approach to spirituality. In order to better apply spiritual knowledge to the world, Wisdom Ways offers educational programs that are relevant to the time and place in which we live. “Programs on the leading edge of spirituality,” Julie calls them. One good example of “real world” programming is the fifteenth Annual Soul Conference. This year, Wisdom Ways will partner with renowned Irish eco-theologian Nellie McLaughlin, RSM, to present a 2-day program ripped from today’s headlines. Sister Nellie will invite participants to look at their relationship to Creation, as well as at the practical matters that relate to it. For instance, she’ll talk about land stewardship in the Twin Cities, as well as community-based agriculture and the sustainable food movement that has become such a hot button topic lately. “A two-day event like this shows the holistic nature of the CSJs spiritual thinking,“ says Barbara. She adds: “Nellie McLaughlin will share her scholarship with us. But at the same time she will continue her own learning as those who gather at the Soul Conference share back with her.”
A panoply of partners It’s clear that Wisdom Ways could not put on programs like this without dozens and dozens of supportive partners. Partnerships with peace alliances, with restorative justice organizations, with arts councils, with community-based non-profits, with colleges and universities, with other churches and spiritual direction centers, with experts, with musicians and dancers, with volunteers ——all are necessary to fill out the Wisdom Ways calendar.
The end is the beginning
In the coming year, Wisdom Ways sessions and events will cover such diverse subjects as: drum making, conflict transformation, the roots of ritual, the voice of the Earth, living with dying, inspiring social action, Celtic spirituality, the feminine divine and, last but not least, peacemaking (which is the focus of this year’s Men’s Spirituality series). One regular participant in the Men’s series, John Gries, tells us why he appreciates Wisdom Ways and its many unique partnerships. “You can’t beat the relevance of the topics and the quality of the presenters. They’re always pertinent to where I am in my life. Because the experience is always worthwhile, I keep going back. I enjoy sharing with the other people there. We find out how similar we all are, men and women, in both our spiritual questioning and our journey through life.”
We end our story about Wisdom Ways at the same place it began: the labyrinth. In all the ancient places around the world where labyrinths are found ——in Britain, France, South America, Greece, Asia, southwestern United States —— they follow the same basic pattern you see in that field behind Carondelet Center. The pattern serves Wisdom Ways as a logo. But it also serves, in a deeper sense, as a metaphor for the ministry itself, and for the spiritual transformation it engenders. Julie explains: “There’s a mystery to it. You can’t tell exactly where you are on the path. But you know if you keep going, through all the twists and turns, you will get to the core, the core of the earth, the core of your heart, the core of your mind, the core of the issue. Stay on the path again, and you’ll come back out ready to put your newfound spiritual knowledge to good use in the world. ✝
ide by side.
Diane Gardner is experiencing the closest kind of partnership with the Sisters of St. Joseph that a layperson can experience. She is a Consociate, one of 125 men and women who have made a commitment to help carry on the mission of the CSJs in their lives and in the world. That anyone who is not a nun would choose to dedicate her or himself to this calling is remarkable enough. Even more remarkable is that Diane is, at the same time a Commissioned Minister for Spiritual Direction with the United Church of Christ, where she offers one-on-one spiritual direction and sometimes preaches.
Q What finally made up your mind? A It was at the Wisdom Ways’ Fifth Anniversary dinner, where I was seated at the same table with two of the Sisters, Eleanor Lincoln and Catherine Litecky, who were compiling a book about the history of the CSJ St. Paul Province. They started telling those old stories and that night I heard them with different ears. Something in me said “yes.” I called the Consociate office the next day, and started my candidacy. I made my commitment in 2001.
Q How did you get from United Church of Christ spiritual director, which seems like a fulfilling enough thing to be, to CSJ Consociate?
A Along a circuitous route. I didn’t grow up knowing nuns. I believed a lot of the usual nun stereotypes ——which, of course, the Sisters of St. Joseph blasted out of the water. But I did my graduate work at the College of St. Catherine and met some of the CSJs there. I started doing some volunteer work with Wisdom Ways, a CSJ ministry. At Carondelet Center, I met more Sisters. The then-director of Wisdom Ways was herself a Consociate. Eventually, the idea of becoming one occurred to me, but it seemed like a pretty big leap. So I moved toward it and back and toward it and back for almost four years.
Q Was it surprising to you that the Sisters would welcome a non-Catholic into such a close fellowship?
A They welcome not only non-Catholics, but also women and men both. It’s a community where the great love of God is the important thing.
P U RP O S E
Q After all the equivocating, what really
Q And what do you think you bring to the
motivated you to become a Consociate?
partnership with the CSJs?
A Two things. It was clear to me that the Sisters
A I bring both my reverence and my irreverence,
in no way walk in lockstep. But the amount of respect they have for each other, the degree of listening that goes on, the consensus decisionmaking ——well, I was in awe of that. And the CSJs’ guiding document, the Acts of Chapter, was so —— well, the only word I can think of is cosmic. They were so forward thinking. I knew I had to become a part of this.
Q Even though you’re a Protestant? A The Sisters know they live and serve in an ecumenical world. They’re very progressive about that. And they’re very open to outside ideas and counsel.
Q What is the process of becoming a Consociate like?
A There’s a two-year discernment period. You get to know the Sisters and the other Consociates, and they get to know you. Candidates and Consociates are invited to all the rituals, province assemblies and parties. Some Consociates serve on the boards and committees of the CSJ community. I’m incredibly honored and blessed to be the Consociate Consultant to their governing council.
my love of God, my open mind, my willingness to learn. I bring 20 years of non-profit management and organizing and volunteering. And I bring a different voice, that of a mainstream Protestant tradition.
Q In this issue of Possumus, we’re talking about partnerships as transformative relationships. In other words, their association somehow changes both parties. Do you think that’s true of your relationship with the CSJs?
A It’s not only true of my relationship with CSJ, but it’s how I see them doing business in the world. How they go about their ministry. It’s not only “How can we work together?” It’s not only “I’ll give this percent and you give that.” It’s “What is God calling us to do here?” It’s really something more. I see it at St. Mary’s Clinics, at Sarah’s…an Oasis for Women, at Learning In Style. I see it in the Working Groups of the CSJ Justice Commission. It’s not just paying lip service; it’s way beyond that. It’s becoming part of the systemic change you seek. The way the CSJs do partnerships is the way we wish all partnerships would be. ✝
VO I C E S
We all think we know what partnership means. Most of us practice it at least now and then in our daily lives. We refer to marriage partners, business partners, even partners in crime. But do we take even a moment to reflect on exactly what a mutually beneficial partnership is all about? Well, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondolet do. Every six years, Sisters from all the provinces meet to elect new leadership, as well as to revisit and rewrite a document they call the Acts of Congregational Chapter. The Acts of Chapter 2007, the introduction to which is printed at right, guides each Sister’s head, heart and hands for the next six years, until they meet in chapter to deliberate again. This internal document reveals the deep, insightful, exceedingly spiritual meaning hidden in the simple word partnership. It anchors in the Divine the Sisters’ partnerships with creation, with the Church, with the dear neighbor and with each other, and it describes the exceptional nature of those partnerships. But in spite of its poetic language, the Acts of Chapter is not an ethereal thing. It has urgency in the real world inhabited by the CSJs––a world where the “groaning” of the “disconnected” demands from the Sisters an immediate and transformative response.
With/ Within the Church
In this section of the 2007 Acts of Chapter, the Sisters address the “sacredness of all of life and creation.” Once that is acknowledged, an urgent concern is expressed for Earth and its survival. To transform their concern into action, the Sisters “acknowledge [their] own complicity and call [themselves]…to be just with, not abusive of, Earth’s resources.” Knowing that this is easy to say and difficult to do, CSJs “challenge [themselves] to become stronger leaders and [join] with others in partnership to work for systemic change.” For instance, the Sisters have banned plastic water bottles from their own campus in St. Paul. Everyday, they partner with other interested groups (through the Partners In Justice grant-making board, for example), to make a more sustainable environment for all of Earth’s people.
The Sisters who met in 2007 saw the need to strengthen their voice and their partnership within the Roman Catholic Church itself. Or, as they put it in the Acts, “to fully assume the priesthood of our baptismal call.” The Sisters are determined to open doors to the women within the Church, and engage the Church hierarchy in “honest conversation” about the position women hold within it. By extension, the Sisters of St. Joseph hope to empower women everywhere to live up to their full potential. Called to work for justice within the Church itself, the Sisters examine their own institutions with both “prophetic and proactive voices” in order to be agents of “healing and life-giving change” in the larger world.
Sacred Mystery embraces us in unifying love and we know Communion. The heart of God—a Trinity of Relationship— holds together all that exists in a communion of relationships that constitutes the web of life. We breathe in that Commu union and with it the hopes, yearnings, pains and struggles of creation, each other. the Dear Neighbor and the Church. Urgency to respond to the groaning of a disconnected world fills us. In the rhythm of breathing in and breathing out God’s unifying love— our gift, our charism, our mission— We participate in the Mystery of Transformation.
With the Dear Neighbor The Sisters indicate,
With Each Other This is perhaps the most intimate section of the Acts of Chapter. “Each other” refers to the relationship between Sister and Sister, of course. But it also includes all the interpersonal relationships within the ever-widening circle of the Sisters of St. Joseph: the Consociates, the St. Joseph Workers, the board members, the volunteers and all the partners in ministry. The Acts of 2007 describes the human community, with its joys and tensions. It goes on to say: “Our commitment to community challenges us to share our hearts and to deepen the quality of our life together…to integrate our diverse cultures into deeper understanding and expression of our gift of unifying love.” That unifying love spreads through CSJ and out into the community like ripples on a pond, transforming everything it touches.
in this section of the Acts, their determination to go anywhere and do anything within their power to act for social justice and systemic change. “We will join,” they say, “with other groups in addressing issues, especially those which demean or deny human dignity and those which force the economically poor and marginalized to bear the burden of unjust economic systems.” In this way, the CSJs are motivated to partner with other like-minded organizations to work for “right relationships with and among the Dear Neighbor.” This calling is of their primary concern, and you see examples of this ministry throughout the pages of Possumus. Partnerships formed with others of like mind keep the doors open at St. Mary’s Health Clinics, Sarah’s…an Oasis for Women, Learning In Style and Peace House.
Many thanks to Sister Susan Oeffling,CSJ for her help with this article.
Cretin and Derham Hall were once separate high schools, facing each other across a field in St. Paul. Cretin, an all boys school, was run by the Christian Brothers; Derham Hall, all girls, was run by the CSJs. In the 1980s, the groups agreed to study the idea of a merger of the two schools. Richard Engler, President and Principal of Cretin-Derham Hall High School, tells us about the amazing partnership that, in 1987, brought the two schools together as one. The Christian Brothers and the CSJs came to the table with very strong self-interests. They really argued out that merger. They had a lot to argue about. The Sisters were proud of how they were teaching young women. They didn’t want to lose that, to become absorbed into the male culture that existed at Cretin. The Brothers wanted to make it work, too, but they didn’t want to lose what they had either. So they had to come together and ask themselves, “What is in the common good?” And out of what must have been a painful process came beauty-- a vision statement that detailed the kind of school both these parties could be proud of. In 1990, we derived seven values from that statement: Catholic, academic, leadership, service, equity, diversity and community. They guide us every day. What I’m the most proud of at this school is that the charism of our two sponsors, and the incredible spirit they have, still exists at CDH today Richard Engler, President, Cretin-Derham Hall
After leaving the St. Paul Province of the CSJs in 1972, Harriet Hentges took her interest in environmental sustainability into the secular world. Eventually she began working as a Senior Director in the Corporate Strategy and Sustainability Unit at Wal-Mart, helping to guide it toward a more enlightened worldview. Today she is Vice President for Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability for a Dutch global food retailer. People may think I made a huge leap here, but everything the CSJs taught me is absolutely relevant to what I’m doing now. Of course, the issues of social justice, poverty, and environmental sustainability are too big for one sector to handle -too big for government or business or non-profits alone. So I keep coming back to the need for mutually beneficial partnerships. At Wal-Mart, when I sat down with the business units and heard the problems they were wrestling with, I could identify outside groups that could help them solve what they thought was unsolvable. The units were inexperienced at creating partnerships with non-profits, but they were open to it. The nonprofits of course recognized they could have more impact on their own social cause agendas if Wal-Mart got involved. By themselves, neither party could have gotten what they wanted. These days, corporations are falling all over themselves to plug holes in our world. Job openings in my field are increasing 37% a year. There’s no doubt in my mind Corporate Responsibility has become a movement. Harriet Hentges, Ahold USA
E In 1996, civil law attorney Linda Miller was looking for a way to change her life. Her search led her to found Civil Society, dedicated to helping those victims of crime who are least likely to report one. Civil Society has since grown to 15 legal clinics in the Twin Cites, where minority and immigrant groups find comfort and wise counsel. In 1998, the first human trafficking victim walked into one of Linda’s clinics. This initial act has brought Linda into partnership time and again with the CSJs.
xtending the partnership.
The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet can’t extend the bonds of partnership into the community without the support of friends and neighbors like you who believe in our mission. Sometimes that support is physical or emotional. Sometimes it’s spiritual. And sometimes it’s financial. If you think what we do to bring the community together in bold new ways is important work, please consider supporting us in any way you can. Maybe you can’t be on the front lines of the struggle for health care for all, but you can pay for health care for an uninsured person. Maybe you can’t volunteer your time, working for social justice and equality, but you can open your wallet so we can. Maybe you can’t dedicate your life to becoming more spiritually attuned to the earth and all Creation in fellowship with others, but you can give a generous donation so the Sisters of St. Joseph can continue this work. Your gift makes you one of those important people with whom we partner. And together, we know we can change lives for the better. Right here in Minnesota.
The people we help don’t know the law or the language. They often don’t even know what a crime is or what happens when you report one. Sometimes they’ve been stripped of their legal documents and identities. At our clinics, they can meet with attorneys without a lot of screening or hassle. That engenders trust. We provide legal counsel and social services, too. This is where our programs fit so well with the CSJs. We’ve received grants from the Sisters’ Partners In Justice Fund, and right now we have a St. Joseph Worker, Anna Zares, placed with us as a full-time caseworker. We benefit from our CSJ association because they are a group of people already trained, organized and dedicated to the same goals we are. The Sisters really want to do something about human trafficking and abuse problems. Civil Society helps them do it.
To make a donation to support the programs of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, please visit www.csjministriesfoundation.org Or send your check in the envelope provided to: Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet St. Paul Province Ministries Foundation 1884 Randolph Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55105 Remember, you don’t have to be a saint or a hero, or be rich, to do enormous good. You just have to be willing.
Linda Miller, founder of Civil Society
Thank you. Visit us on the web at www.csjministriesfoundation.org for updates on previous articles you read in Possumus.
Move toward a world of hope, reconciliation, and justice for all people. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. Achieve universal primary education. Promote gender equality and empower women. Reduce child mortality. Improve maternal health. Combat HIV/AIDS malaria and other diseases. Ensure environmental sustainability. Develop a global partnership for development. From the United Nations Millennium Development Goals
Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet Ministries Foundation www.csjministriesfoundation.org
Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, St. Paul Province Ministries Foundation 1884 Randolph Ave. Saint Paul, MN 55105
Step by step the longest march can be done, can be done. Stone by stone can build an arch. Singly none, singly none. And in union what we will can be accomplished still. Many drops can turn a mill. Singly none, singly none. “Step By Step” Adapeted from the preamble to the Constitution of the United Mineworkers of America
Providing quality to build on for over half a century. Since 1949, James Steele Construction has focused on the highest quality workmanship in the construction of commercial, institutional, industrial and residential buildings, including extraordinary projects like this church. We are very proud of our skilled craftsmanship as well the special relationships we’ve forged with our clients. One such relationship is with the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. We recognize the impassioned work the Sisters
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do and we gladly support their network of help and hope for those most in need.
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