A summer of celebration, prayer and decisions
Sister Joyce Lehman • President, Sisters of the Precious Blood
The summer of 2015 has been packed with celebrations, lots of activity and times of serious discussion and decisions. Shortly after the first day of the summer season our Sisters gathered to celebrate jubilees. Two celebrated 50 years, 10 were honored for 60 years, and one Sister represented her diamond jubilarian class of 75 years. Another Sister, aged 101, was honored for her 85 years as a Sister of the Precious Blood in service to God’s people. You’ll have a chance to meet and learn more about these amazing women in the following pages.
Immediately after our Jubilee celebration, 79 Sisters went to the University of Dayton for the quadrennial General Assembly, known also as a Chapter. For a week, we prayed and worshiped together, discussed, worked hard, and concluded with directions for the next four years and the election of the Council or leadership team to hold us to our decisions. If there is one thing that is evident when we gather like this, it is that the Holy Spirit takes advantage of our openness to God’s will and takes us places we may have never imagined.
The day following the close of Assembly, quite a few Sisters traveled to the Maria Stein Shrine of the Holy Relics where they had the opportunity to participate in the blessing and dedication of the newly renovated Heritage Museum. The lead article will speak more about it, but as someone who has been part of the process from the beginning, I can say it was wonderful to see our history as Sisters told in a refreshingly new manner. It is all too easy for us to take for granted the sacrifices of the early Sisters and forget the great risks they took leaving home and family, immigrating to a foreign land as a response to a call and making a home here with the rest of those early pioneers. If you get the chance, a visit to the Shrine’s museum is well worth your while, as is a stop in the Relic Chapel and in the Adoration Chapel for a bit of quiet prayer and inspiration.
During July the transition from one leadership team to another began, and at the beginning of August the new Council was installed. The following week we went to the National Assembly of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious held in Houston, Texas. This annual gathering of the leadership groups of most of the congregations of women in consecrated life in the United States is always an inspiring event, and we were not disappointed this year. We experienced moving liturgies, inspiring speakers and time to connect with old friends and make new ones.
We came back early from the National Assembly to attend one of the celebrations of the 200th anniversary of the founding of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood by St. Gaspar del Bufalo. Our “Blood” brothers do know how to celebrate and it was an honor to be with them and their thousand plus followers for Mass, speakers and, of course, a meal. St. Gaspar had once prayed: “I wish I had a thousand tongues to endear every heart to the Precious Blood of Jesus.” Well, on August 15, 2015 he got that wish and more.
Now that the meetings and celebrations are over and things quiet down, we move forward in openness to where the Spirit is calling us. Summer will be “unofficially” over by the time you read this. School will have started, harvesting will soon begin, and we continue in Ordinary Time, both of the liturgical year and our work. If we keep ourselves open to hear the cry of blood in the poor and forgotten, and to hear the call of the Precious Blood to respond with healing and reconciliation, as Pope Francis invites us to do, there will be nothing “ordinary” about it. Glory to the Blood of Jesus!