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An Associate Gathering

It was billed as an "Associate Get-together and Enrichment," and that is exactly what it delivered. On Saturday, August 12, 2017, a group of sixteen people gathered to reflect on their personal journeys with, and as, associates of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis. The morning session of the day-long event gave time to each person to share something about themselves and to reflect on the meaning and value of the associate relationship. The sharing was prayerful and inspiring, drawing the group to a closer relationship.

After lunch, Jeanne Connolly, Ed.D., facilitated the group in a dialogue about the associate relationship. This gave the participants an opportunity to ask questions, make observations, and share insights about the future of the SSJ-TOSF Associates. The focus of Jeanne's input emphasized:

Associates are women and men who choose to make a public and formal commitment (covenant) to embody the charism and mission of a religious congregation within the associate's primary life vocation in society for the sake of all of God's creation.

Jeanne has been a covenant companion of the Wheaton Franciscan Sisters for more than 22 years. She also brought her experience as the Director of Charism and Mission with the Wheaton Franciscans, and more than 30 years of leadership, management, training, and consulting experience. She currently serves as Vice-President of Board of Directors for the North American Conference of Associates and Religious (NACAR).

The day was hosted by a SSJ-TOSF local community which includes four associates and four sisters:

  • Laura and Charles Wells
  • Reneta and Bob Webb
  • Sr. Judith David
  • Sr. Marcella Nowakowski
  • Sr. Dorothy Monikowski
  • Sr. Cecilia Zielen

The inspiration for the day was born in November 2016 when the local community examined the results of the CARA study which was done in 2016 for the North American Conference of Associates and Religious (NACAR). It reports that there are "more than 55,000 associates in 378 religious institutes, eight in ten of them in the United States." The associate relationship is a growing phenomenon in the Church and the SSJ-TOSFs are part of that movement.

The CARA study further revealed that more than 80% of the respondents "agree that the relationship between vowed members and associates is vital to the future of the institute." Sixteen people ended the Associate Gathering agreeing whole-heartedly.

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