Welcome to the first publication of our e-newsletter, Mission Possible.
We look forward to sharing a closer look into the life of our Congregation, our latest news, upcoming events and links to our work.
We want to stay connected to friends like you who have a special role in our ministries, and a special place in our hearts. We are grateful to be walking together with those we serve, good friends and partners in ministry who make our work in the 21st century possible.
Charity Rising Now More Than Ever
Transfer of Leadership: Not a Map but a Doorway
The following reflection was offered by Sr. Mary Mc Cormick at the Transfer of Leadership.
What we need today is not a map but a doorway.
A doorway that opens into our preferred future, discerned by us, chosen by us, shaped and molded by us, by who and what we are, what we have become, in this time of Charity Rising.
A doorway, blown open by the wind of God’s spirit, that leads us along the trail of transformation we pledged to walk together during Assembly 2019.
With the poet Mary Oliver we say, “No, we’ve never been to this country before. No, we don’t know where the roads will lead us. No, we don’t intend to turn back.”
Time runs differently here. We experience the mystery of the presence and prayers of the generations from the past and the yet-to-be, affirming and supporting us.
It is a kairos moment: a time when God’s Spirit will re-create in us new flights of energy, new soarings, new travels into the known and unknown.
And so today we gather here, Sisters, Associates, Companions, family and friends, and colleagues, to thank those who have served as leadership for the past four years. They accomplished in that short space of time, and against great odds, all that had been asked of them, and more. Much more: the unexpected, unsought- after situations demanding often immediate, sometimes painful—but always life-affirming responses. They did it all with grace, courage, and compassion.
We thank our God for them and rejoice in the way they continually helped to promote the Good News of the gospel of Charity from their very first day.
And we celebrate with joy the installation of our newly elected leaders, grateful for their willingness to take on the work of the next four years.
You are the ones called to navigate this new time of charity rising.
May you learn to value the things that really matter; may you be rich in the harvest of justice Jesus Christ has ripened for you.
And may you ask one another, may you ask us—are we, together, ready to respond to the challenges that lie ahead?
Challenges that urge us:
- To appreciate the wisdom we have garnered from our past, to learn new lessons from old experiences, to be grateful again for all that has been, for all the turns our life in community has taken.
- To be present to the NOW moment unfolding before us and receive gratefully its gifts. To take seriously the call to name and make real the bold choices of how we want to move forward.
- To deepen our relationships as we listen—really listen—to one another’s stories and share them, share our moments of light and shadow, our hopes and our purpose.
- And finally, the challenge to trust in the providence that continually calls us forth to a fresh and unexpected future…alive with possibility and the promise of Charity Rising anew.
Our holy founders journeyed with us during our time of Assembly this year. Let them have the last words to us today:
Elizabeth Seton reminds us that now is time to go out and meet our grace.
Vincent urges us daily to ask the question: what must be done?
Louise wants us to make our own her mantra: it is the charity of Christ crucified that urges us onward, that leaves us no option.
And Elizabeth Boyle reveals her Vincentian heart to us as she declares, “We are the children of saints…. Love one another, love those entrusted to your care. Everything depends on your love.”
No, we’ve never been to this country before. No, we don’t know where the roads will lead us.
No, we don’t intend to turn back.
Christmas Traditions Remembered
What Christmas traditions do you remember? Were they part of Advent, Christmas, or “Little Christmas” on January 6? Were they about food, decorations, or simply how you celebrated the birth of Jesus? At the Congregation gathering on December 7, Sisters and Associates were asked to recall some of their traditions. Here is what they shared:
Universal to most was the “surprise” that Sister Novices had for postulants on Christmas Eve. The Novitiate chapel was closed most of the day, so it was obvious that something was going on in there. Some postulants believed that their families were hiding behind closed doors while others believed that the room contained Christmas presents stacked up high. The unveiling happened before (or after?) Midnight Mass, when all were invited in to see a life-sized creche and figurines depicting the Nativity scene. Everyone recalled Midnight Mass and the Mother General walking up the aisle carrying the Infant Jesus. “Oohs” and “aahs” could be heard throughout the chapel!
Many remembered setting up Advent wreaths. Some families created an Advent calendar that included performing an act of kindness for someone every day of the Advent season. In large families, the tradition of Silent Santa provided a gift for each family member. School children were often part of Christmas pageants, so parents created angel, shepherd, and three kings’ outfits. Being selected to play Mary or Joseph was certainly special! Some remembered wearing the pageant costumes for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day family gathering.
Remembrances about holiday meals were aplenty! In the Italian tradition, Christmas Eve involved the preparation of the “Seven Fish” meal. Traditionally, Christmas Eve was a day of fasting so the meal included many dishes without meat: filet of sole or flounder, crab, “baccala” or cod (usually prepared as a stew), salmon, clams on the half shell —sometimes served with spaghetti— (usually not lobster, although that might be a nice substitute today!), calamari, and scallops. In the Italian tradition, arancini (rice balls stuffed with cheese and meat) was not prepared until the family returned home from Midnight Mass.
Extended families often lived in the same neighborhood so walking home after 2–3 a.m. was common. All gathered again —usually at another relative’s home— on Christmas afternoon. Typical meals included roast turkey, ham, pasta al forno, and delicious baked goods (like oplatki —Polish communion-like wafers), home-made cookies, and, of course, mince, apple and pumpkin pies. Christmas pudding and eggnog may have rounded out the Christmas meal!
Some families created Gingerbread Houses. Those whose heritage included the United Kingdom remember a Christmas cake made of marzipan, fruits and nuts. Italian Panettone is often given as a Christmas gift for families and friends.
If the family was large, there was a grown-up table and a kids’ table. It was usually a feat to be seated with the grown-ups…although some still preferred being with cousins, brothers, and sisters.
Many honored an Irish tradition wherein families placed a tall, thick candle on the sill of the largest window after sunset on Christmas Eve. The candle burned all night as a welcoming light for Mary and Joseph.
The Christmas tree was usually “real” with lots of tinsel and homemade ornaments —often made by the school-age children— decorated with cranberry and popcorn strung as garland. If families were brave enough to “fight with the lights,” they were strung around the tree for an added warm glow! The tallest person in the household, often Dad —or the youngest hoisted up— placed the star or the angel on top of the tree. In some families, the children did not participate in the decorating of the tree; they believed Santa did it when he came to visit on Christmas Eve.
Wreath making traditions included decorating wreaths with ornaments, pinecones and poinsettias. The wreath scent was always the best part of the activity! Others remembered creating wreaths from candies and candy canes.
Stocking were hung on mantels; those without mantels thumbtacked stockings to a wall near the tree. Placing an orange in the toe gave the stocking some form and helped encourage Mom to make breakfast after presents were opened on Christmas morning.
Everyone remembered the Christmas movies, most especially the black and white version of The Miracle on 34th Street, It’s a Wonderful Life, and A Christmas Carol—the original with Reginald Owen or George C. Scott.
Memories of taking a trip into Manhattan during Christmas week were shared by many. Destinations included the tree at Rockefeller Center, Horn and Hardart Automat, or Howard Johnsons. If they were lucky, they got to stand on the interminable line at Radio City Music Hall to see the Christmas Show and a featured movie. Those who saw the show were always amazed to see the live animals prance across the stage and the beautiful formation of a cross, staged by the angels with lilies bowing in front of the manger.
Recalling Advent and Christmas family traditions created much happy chatter among Sisters and Associates. What were some of your traditions? We’d love to hear them!
What a Day!
On Tuesday, December 3, 2019, #GivingSisterTuesday, we raised $13,775 toward providing hot meals and clothing for those living in poverty, school supplies for children to help them succeed in school, supermarket cards to feed families, and distributing Metro Cards for those in need. Although we didn’t reach our #GivingSisterTuesday target, we made significant strides that will have a lasting impact. We did this together, and we did this with the help of Sister volunteers who answered the telephones during our telethon and spoke with our supporters.
We understand that many deserving organizations ask for support on #GivingTuesday, so we thank you for championing our mission during this exciting campaign.
Please know how much we appreciate your partnership. You make our work possible, and your generous spirit will cheer us on through the rest of our year-end fundraising season. May Advent continue to be a time of blessing and hope-filled waiting for you and all whom you love!
Share Your Story
Please tell us about a Sister of Charity who has influenced your life. Share Your Story.