Sister Joyce Lehman • President, Sisters of the Precious Blood
Wow, was everyone busy this summer! There was the culmination of the months of preparation for our nearly weeklong Assembly, where we set our directions for the next four years and elected the Sisters who would lead us in this stage of our journey. That gathering was bookended by the celebration of Sisters’ jubilees and their years of service to God’s people, and by the profession of first vows of one of the women discerning to join us in her commitment to be one of those serving God in the Church and the world in the future. There were, of course, the civic holidays of the Fourth of July and the “unofficial end of summer,” Labor Day. We definitely kept our staff at Salem Heights busy preparing and cleaning up as our Sisters from Chile, Guatemala, California and the other states in between joined us for many of these events. We owe the Salem Heights staff a real debt of gratitude, along with all our other staff and Sister volunteers for all their preparations along with making everyone feel at home and anticipating their needs.
Family reunions, parish festivals, school alumni get-togethers, and community picnics are all important to maintain connections that feed our souls and make it possible to return to what can easily become the humdrum of daily life. Recalling our stories of growing up with siblings, at the same time watching children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren interact and play, blends past and present and can fill us with joy and gratitude for the gift of life so easily muted with the concerns of the day-to-day. Gathering with others who are part of our larger “family” can also trigger gratitude, joy, expectation and energy.
These celebrations for us Sisters are just as important in helping us rejoice in the Lord, helping us remember who we are and Whose we are, and helping us be energized so we can continue to engage fully in the mission God has entrusted to us. They allow us to step out of ordinary time to enjoy each other’s company, to celebrate our common past and anticipate a common future. The Jubilee celebration allowed us to honor our Sisters who were, incredibly, celebrating 80, 75 and 60 years of vowed service to God’s people and to the building up of our own communion together. The first profession of vows of Sister Juliana Wuur gave us the opportunity to dream of a future filled with hope, the hope that our mission and ministry will continue through the brave women joining us at a time in history where the future feels unsure and a bit scary, as it seems so very few are answering the call to religious life.
As one of the new leadership team called forth to guide the Congregation for the next four years, I see the tasks ahead of us as both daunting and exciting. There is no lack of confidence in the God who first called each of us to this life. While the world around us is undeniably not as it used to be, we recognize that it doesn’t mean God is not still calling, still has a place in the Church and the world for women and men consecrated to the vowed life. How those who come after us will live out that life will definitely look very different from how we lived it in our time. Indeed, the world in which they will live out their vows is already radically unlike the community Mother Maria Anna Brunner founded 189 years ago.
So as we venture into the unknown, we need to continue to create times of celebration, of stepping out of the ordinary to touch and be touched by the ExtraOrdinary One who invites and celebrates with us, the God who gives us all we need and Who goes forth with us into the mystery ahead.