By Sr. Regina Bechtle, SC
“When you’re planning to take a long hike on a road you’ve never walked before – you’d better take a backpack with you.” That was the suggestion that Sr. Donna Dodge offered at a meeting of our Congregation last September. On our journey into the future, she said, be sure to make room in those backpacks for hope & trust, faith & conviction, courage & daring.
Plus some risk pills, a little curiosity and a lot of humor. Some music, too, to lift our spirits, songs like “Be Not Afraid”, “Strength for the Journey,” “We Are Family”. We could well add the songs from today, “My Shepherd is the Lord,” and “You Are All We Have.”
You, Sisters, our new Leadership Team, will help us navigate the next stage of the road.
It continues the path that Vincent & Louise shaped in 17th century France, the path that Elizabeth Seton & Elizabeth Boyle adapted & honed in America, the path that literally thousands of Sisters of Charity have followed for over 200 years.
We already know that the road leads to self-giving service, to dying in all kinds of ways.
It leads to the Cross – no way around it. BUT there is more. (There is always more!)
That path also leads to Resurrection. That is our sure and certain hope.
The future by definition is unknown.
But THIS WE DO KNOW: Each of you is a seasoned leader. You know the territory.
You know that our lives are in the hands of a God who gives us what we need – all the time.
And when Providence upsets our plans, as it often does, you know how to pivot, how to be “inventive to infinity” (as St. Vincent urged).
You know (as Elizabeth Seton did) that in each new challenge, if we “only do our best and leave the rest to our dear God,” if we only take the risk and “hazard yet forward,” then the One who began the work of Charity among us will bring it to completion, to fulfillment, in God’s good time – because the mission belongs not to us but to God.
Here, now, while we have life and breath, there is still so much work – God’s work – to be about.
We count on you to keep urging us on, impelled by the Charity of Christ.
As Sr. Donna ended her talk last year, “Remember that we are on this journey together.” We count on you to build on the energy of this “togetherness,” this solidarity, communion, interconnection, among us, beyond us, embracing our Earth and all its peoples, all created things. [We share it with one another, with our partners in ministry, with those on the margins whom we serve, with Mother Earth and its billions of humans, plants and animal species.]
You are women of faith in the Resurrection. Every rocky, blessed step on our journey leads to Christ who is risen and goes before us.
We count on you to keep pointing us toward that light, that hope, that truth, on which we and thousands before us have staked our lives.
Our prayer for you echoes that of St. Paul in today’s reading: “May your love overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you determine what is best”.