By Associate Lisa Shay
At the December 12, 2015 Congregation gathering, we were blessed with a day-long reflection by the internationally-acclaimed author and speaker, Fr. Anthony Gittins, C.S.Sp. Introduced simply as “Tony” and wearing civilian clothes, he further impressed me by personalizing his talks for our calls to mission and transformation. He presented a challenging message — a call to repentance by thinking and acting differently. Yet despite the challenge, I and everyone at my table left the day inspired and encouraged.
I found his talks riveting: He spoke with energy, humor and passion, using marvelous images and metaphors, the overarching one being that God’s mission is like God’s breathing. God breathes out life, sustaining all of creation. God’s breathing in is a gathering in, a continual call to us to come back.
The most challenging message for me personally was the call to transformation through the letting go of the dominance of one’s ego and not being obsessed with productivity. As a faculty member and Army officer, my career has been defined by how productive I have (or haven’t) been. Yet the mission is God’s, not ours, and we are called to respond to God’s initiative.
I am grateful to Sr. Kathleen Byrnes, the rest of the leadership team, and everyone who was involved in organizing the day of reflection and the celebration of the Eucharist which was a recapitulation of the day: we were gathered, revitalized, then scattered out on mission.
Editor’s Note: At the conclusion of Congregation Day, Sisters and Associates reaffirmed their vows/commitments at Mass. Fr. Gittins presided.
Colonel Lisa Shay is an Academy Professor and Director of the Electrical Engineering Program at the US Military Academy at West Point. She became an Associate with the Sisters of Charity in 2014.