By Sister Marilyn Ketteler, SSSF, U.S. Provincial Team Member
Last July, Alverno College in Milwaukee played host to a historic moment in the history of two religious communities.
For three days, members of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis (SSJ-TOSF) and the School Sisters of St. Francis (SSSF) came together at a Spirituality Conference for a formal reconciliation of the division that occurred between their two communities in 1901. The leadership teams of both communities sought forgiveness of one another for the hurt and misunderstandings that caused their congregations to go their separate ways 112 years ago.
Having embraced this reconciliation, Sister Marjorie White, the SSJ-TOSF President, told the assembly of nearly 300 sisters and associates that "we are no longer cousins, but now we are truly sisters to one another."
The next step on this journey of reconciliation took place August 28, 2013 at the School Sisters of St. Francis' motherhouse in Milwaukee. Sister Marjorie and SSJ-TOSF Central Board member, Sister Michelle Wronkowski joined with members of the School Sisters' International Leadership Team and U.S. Provincial Team to further explore possibilities for the future. Thanks to the facilitation of Sister Rosemary Huddleston, OP, the group brainstormed and prioritized possible activities and identified some next steps for continuing the collaboration. The leadership teams will gather in February 2014 for a retreat facilitated by Sister Fran Ferder, FSPA to deepen our sense of knowing one another.
As the prayer of Archbishop Oscar Romero reminds us, "it may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord's grace to enter and do the rest." These are exciting times for both communities. We look forward to wherever it is that God's grace takes us!