The Dubuque Franciscans entered into Chapter of Affairs a little differently this year. For the first time in the congregation’s history, the event with the theme, “Empowered by Our Common Heart” was held virtually via Zoom the week of November 23.
Chapter of Affairs is a process of communal discernment and decision making that emerges from community/personal prayer, contemplative listening, and conversation.
“It is a time in the community’s life where we set our goals,” said Sister Pat Doody, who was part of the Chapter Planning Committee. ”It’s a business meeting, but yet we set our intentions for how we want to focus our lives and live the Gospel for the next six years.”
Preparation for the event consisted of monthly meetings of contemplative discussion from July through October. Sisters and Associates entered into conversations centered on charism, mission, religious life, and leadership.
The event was facilitated by Sister Cathy Bertrand, SSND. She began Chapter on November 23 by inviting and encouraging the Sisters and Associates, “to listen…to open your heart to the perspective of others…to practice humility and genuine curiosity.”
During the week, the Dubuque Franciscans recommitted their mission for the next six years: “Rooted in the Gospel and the Spirit of Francis and Clare, the Sisters of St. Francis live in right relationship with all creation. In our personal, communal, and public lives, we commit ourselves to ongoing conversion as we:
• Deepen our relationship with Mother Earth and Sister Water;
• Stand with persons who are poor;
• Make peace and practice nonviolence.
This is who we are. This is what the global community can expect from us.”
These coming years will especially include attention to systemic racism, the climate crisis, and the underlying issues revealed by the pandemic.