“Receive, Give Thanks, Break, Share” – Precious Blood spirituality and the Eucharist at work in Sisters’ hearts and lives

The Eucharist has been at the heart of the Sisters’ spirituality since their founding by Maria Anna Brunner in 1834. Inspired by the book Our One Great Act of Fidelity: Waiting for Christ in the Eucharist by Ronald Rolheiser, Sisters of the Precious Blood recently undertook a variety of activities to “live out the Eucharist in daily life.”

Rolheiser’s book outlines a “spirituality of the Eucharist” in four phases: receive, give thanks, break, and share. A newly formed Eucharistic Explorations Committee within the Congregation called on small groups of Sisters, called Clusters, to determine action plans for living out the fourth phase: share.

Sharing the presence of God

Some Sisters collected blankets or donated money and supplies for immigrant families new to the area. Others decided to write letters to political figures and to Pope Francis to thank them for their courage in taking action in the face of resistance. Some Sisters visited the St. Vincent de Paul Dayton shelter to pray with staff and guests there.

Sisters also enjoyed special prayer times and Eucharistic adoration together and read books and articles to deepen their understanding of the Eucharist and its relationship to Precious Blood spirituality, which can be expressed in the Sisters’ mission to be “a life-giving, reconciling presence in our fractured world.”

Eucharistic Revival

Sister Joyce Lehman, president of the Congregation, explained that Sisters discussed the connections between spirituality and mission at last summer’s congregational Assembly.

“As our discussions on this topic during the Assembly progressed, the ‘Eucharistic Revival’ initiative of the United States Bishop Conference was referenced a number of times. Since we are a Congregation founded, in a sense, in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament with a focus on the redeeming blood of Jesus, it seemed appropriate to commit to exploring the Eucharist along with the Catholic Church in the United States,” she said.

She continued, “Shortly after Assembly, we invited Sister Maryann Bremke to lead the charge. We invited her and the committee to provide various opportunities for Sisters, individually and in groups, to read about, reflect on, discuss with each other and others, and appreciate the role the Eucharist plays in our lives. They were encouraged to lead with heart and soul work rather than head. Obviously, they are fulfilling their mission.”

The call to action for the Congregation comes within the context of the Church’s National Eucharistic Revival, which will culminate in the National Eucharistic Congress, held in July in Indianapolis.

In addition, many Precious Blood Sisters will attend the convocation “An Infusion with the Precious Blood of Christ: A Dynamic Force for a Lasting Eucharistic Revival,” held in June in St. Louis and hosted by the Missionaries of the Precious Blood.

The essence of mission

In addition to Sister Maryann, committee members included Sisters Arlene Hirsch, Rita Rogier, Anna Maria Sanders and Nancy Wolf.

Sister Maryann emphasized the central role of Eucharist as “the essence of our mission as vowed religious women.”

“It is Precious Blood spirituality poured out as a life-giving, reconciling presence wherever there is a hurt or need for birth in our fractured world,” she said. “Our recent Cluster explorations of the meaning and power of the Eucharist were meant to give direction to how and with whom we collaborate in mission. I believe it would be a common consensus that our study and recent activities related to these explorations have deepened our understanding of Eucharist immeasurably.”

Exploring the Eucharist and our spirituality

In September 2023, Sister Joyce Ann Zimmerman presented two lectures for Sisters and staff highlighting Precious Blood spirituality as the gift of self. The presentations are available on the PBSI website.

In September 2023, Sister Anna Maria Sanders prepared and led a prayer service titled “Gift of the Eucharist.”

Sisters and congregational staff members were encouraged to watch a video presentation on the Eucharist by Father Joe Nassal, CPPS. Presentations by Father Joe and others are available on the PBSI website.

On Dec. 8, 2023, Sisters and congregational staff members enjoyed a prayer service titled “Woman of the Eucharist.”

On Feb. 16, a Lenten prayer service was held that focused on Precious Blood spirituality.

On March 10, the Sisters at Salem Heights watched a video of Sister Joyce Lehman’s presentation on Precious Blood charism and spirituality, which was delivered at the Precious Blood Spirituality Institute in Liberty, Missouri, in 2023. The presentation is available on the PBSI website.

In April, a retreat was held at Salem Heights, our central house in Dayton, directed by Father Joe Nassal, CPPS. The theme of Father Joe’s retreat was “The Crucible of the Blood of Christ: Communion and the Cross.”

At the Congregation’s Spirit Days, June 27-30, 2024, the Eucharistic Explorations Committee will hold an afternoon session of prayer, reflection, discussion and experiences focused on the Eucharist.

Additional resources

In addition to the Rolheiser book, the committee also recommends these valuable resources:

  • Waiting on the Beloved: The Eucharist as Self-giving Love by Precious Blood Sister Joyce Ann Zimmerman (Liturgy Training Publications, 2024)
  • Pope Francis on Eucharist: 100 Daily Meditations for Adoration, Prayer, and Reflection (Liturgical Press, 2023)
  • Precious Blood Spirituality Institute website (pbspiritualityinstitute.org); click on “More” to access videos, prayers, articles and other resources

— Story by Mary Knapke; contributed photos.

Top, the Prophetic Voices Cluster purchased household supplies for a family that has come to the Dayton area as refugees. Sisters Jean René Hoying, Nancy Kinross, Judy Niday, Cecilia Taphorn and Della Mae Meyer display their purchases. Second, the Leaven Cluster collected 18 blankets for families that live in Dayton as refugees. Sisters Noreen Jutte, Florence Seifert, Beverly Bodnar, Martha Eckstein, OSF, Barbara Brown, Anna Maria Sanders, Mary Ellen Lampe (seated) and Marla Gipson look at the blankets before donating them. Third, Sisters Anna Maria Sanders, Maryann Bremke, Marla Gipson, Jean René Hoying and Barbara Brown set out to deliver donated blankets. Fourth, the Sojourners Cluster shared a common hour of prayer from six locations; in addition, they collected household supplies for immigrant families. Sisters Rita Rogier, Mary Lou Schmersal, Patricia Gist, Linda Pleiman and Nancy Wolf display their purchases. Fifth, Sisters Noreen Jutte, Florence Seifert, Beverly Ann Bodnar, Martha Eckstein, OSF, Barbara Brown, Maryann Bremke, Anna Maria Sanders, Mary Ellen Lampe (seated), Marla Gipson and Jean René Hoying prepare blankets for donating. Sixth, Sister Nancy Wolf participates in an hour of common prayer. Seventh, many Sisters incorporated special prayer times into their action plan. Sisters Dorothy Koenig, Catherine Lett, Rae Marie Ratermann, Elizabeth Westgerdes and Berenice Janszen pray together in the Salem Heights Eucharistic Chapel. Eighth, some of the items donated to local immigrant families. Ninth, Sister Joyce Ann Zimmerman delivers a presentation at Salem Heights. Bottom, Sister Joyce Lehman delivers a presentation at the Precious Blood Spirituality Institute.

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