Wednesday, December 31, 2014

To All that is to come, Yes!

From the Blog Team

Photos by Mallorie Gerwitz

Sunset over the Indian River near West Palm Beach, FL
As we come to the end of 2014, we give thanks for the many gifts of this year and look forward with excitement to all that 2015 will bring.  

We hope you've enjoyed meeting our bloggers over the last month.  Our regular blogging schedule will begin in January with more insights into the lives and musings of younger, newer religious in the Sisters of Charity Federation.  We invite you to continue to walk with us into the new year.

Thank you for your support.  We are grateful to be who we are, where we are, and at this moment in time.  As we continue our journeys, hoping to "wake up the world," a favorite Dag Hammarskjöld quote comes to mind:

“For all that has been, Thank you. For all that is to come,

Sunrise over Nettles Islands at Jensen Beach, FL

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Christmas in Community, Part II

By Sr. Tracy Kemme

Late night prayer time
with Millie
'Twas the night before Christmas [Eve], and all through the house, not a creature was stirring...except for myself and Millie the cat.

I had just finished wrapping a few gifts, and as I gathered up the scraps and the tape, I was taken by the peace and silence of the room that is so often filled with conversation and laughter.  I looked at the lovely Nativity scene and the lights, and I smiled.  I felt like God was inviting me:  Just sit down for awhile.

I climbed into the chair facing the Christmas tree and took a breath.  Millie even scurried up my legs and settled into my lap.

African Nativity set
in our living room
Gratitude flooded my heart as I basked in the quiet night.  I thought about the family and friends for whom I had just wrapped gifts.  I thought about the way our house community had celebrated Christmas and Advent together.  I thought of my recent visit to the formation house in New Mexico where I had lived for three years.  I thought about the congregational, family, and friend gatherings to come over the next days.

It has been a bustling time, but a prayerful time imbued with wonder.

Becoming part of the Sisters of Charity family has deepened my experience of these seasons.  What a gift it is to pray daily with my community, feeling together the movement of the liturgical year.  What a blessing it's been to gather with my Sisters around the table of the Eucharist as we yearn for the One to Whom we've given our lives.  In my short time as a sister, I've been introduced to new insights, new ways to pray, and new traditions that compliment the treasured ones with which I've grown up.  All of it expands my heart.
Clowning around with my fellow novice as we make Christmas gifts

Celebrating with the children at Proyecto Santo Nino during my NM visit

Andrea and I at the Motherhouse Christmas Eve Mass, 2013

Nativity on the Motherhouse grounds on a snowy night

Caroling at our nursing home, Mother Margaret Hall
The SC Chime Choir performs in our beautiful chapel.  Some of these musicians are in their 90's.  Go, girls!

Being part of a religious community has made my life fuller and richer, and I recognize it more at this special time of year. 

"Thank you," is the only prayer I could offer as I sat, gazing at the tree.  I didn't try to say anything else.  I just savored the stillness in this threshold moment of Advent giving way to Christmas...

Monday, December 29, 2014

A Child's Christmas in Guatemala

By Sr. Cecilia Harriendorf
Sisters of Charity of New York/Hermanas de la Caridad de Nueva York

Here are some snapshots of my Christmas in Novillero, Guatemala.  In a place where there is a lot of darkness and struggle, Christ is truly born each day in the resilience and joy of the Guatemalan people.  His light shines especially bright in the faces of these precious little ones...

Girls play a traditional party game - don't let the orange fall!
Bread broken and shared

Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas in Community

By Andrea Koverman

Bayley House, the Novitiate Community for the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, celebrated with an outing to the beautiful Christmas display at Krohn Conservatory followed by a nice meal and prayer time together at our home.   May we be a blessing to others because truly, we are so blessed! Merry Christmas, everyone!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Dr. Who Christmas

By Laurie Parker

Christmas fun with Dr. Who and the SCL's!

Christmas for this Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth community was bittersweet as Laurie Parker prepares to move out and into novitiate in January.  They celebrated with one of Laurie's favorite themes -- Dr. Who.  Merry Christmas!  Celebrate the way you love best!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Soul felt its Worth

By Annie Klapheke

Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
‘til He appeared and the soul felt its worth.”
-          lyrics, O Holy Night

For families who constantly live in the face of poverty, violence and struggle; many of their days are spent pining.  Pining for opportunity.  Pining for peace.  Pining for relief and security.  During the Advent and Christmas seasons, we are reminded that all of us live in a state of yearning - a yearning that can only be filled by the coming of Christ.  At the Christmas celebration at Proyecto Santo Niño in Anapra, Mexico, Emmanuel had come.  God was among us in the laughter of children, the joy of mothers, the singing and dancing, and the sharing of delicious food.  He had appeared in this blessed community, and each soul truly felt its worth. 

Celebrating Christmas with the children of Proyecto Santo Niño in Anapra, Mexico.

Mary and Joseph in the traditional Mexican posada.  Entren santos peregrinos!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Deck the Halls!

By Paris Slapikas

Enjoy some photos from the decorating party at the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth's House of Hospitality.  Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas Novena

By Kara Davis

As a pre-postulant, the initial stage of formation with the Daughters of Charity, this has been my first Advent in community.  There have been plenty of new experiences, including putting up the Christmas tree together and deciding on a tree topper (Angel, Star, or Bow?), to watching National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation together as a house and sharing my favorite quotes.  However, the greatest new experience I have encountered during this journey through Advent has been praying the Christmas Novena together.  The richness of this tradition and the sacredness of this prayer is apparent as Sisters from across generations come together to sing in preparation for the coming of Christ.  I am in awe each evening as  I listen to the voices of the Sisters around me, and reflect on the many years that Sisters before my time came together to pray these same words.  I am filled with hope, hope that this Novena tradition will continue for all time, and hope in the Future of Charity.

Come Lord Jesus, COME QUICKLY!  

To learn more about the Christmas Novena, check out Sr. Lisa's video on Youtube:

To check out audio recordings of the Christmas Novena and pray from your home, click HERE!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Encounters that Awaken

By Sr. Tracy Kemme

God's initial, unexpected nudge to explore religious life felt like a rude awakening; a bucket of cold water rousing me from a comfortable sleep!  Even so, I couldn't ignore the idea.  My discernment led me to move in with a community of Sisters of Charity near the Texas-Mexico border.  I knew very few Sisters growing up, so I needed an up-close encounter with religious life.  I was curious at first, as if watching a National Geographic program: Observe the Sisters in their natural habitat!

Our community of Sisters and discerners, Christmas 2011
I soon discovered that they ate, slept, and brushed their teeth like everybody else.  But I found something extraordinary, too.  We started each day in prayer together, talked often about faith and justice, and served together in places of great need.  They opened their hearts and home to me and other discerners and freely accompanied us through critical, formative years of our lives.  This generous, shared commitment to community and to the Gospel lit a fire in my heart.   

Something in the Sisters moved me deeply; I somehow desired what they had.  As I spent more time with them, I discovered that this something was already in me.  The wick was there, waiting; the encounter was the match that ignited it.  I awakened to a sense of deep purpose and great possibility in God’s invitation. I had to respond: “YES!”

Since then, the call continues to awaken and deepen.  I look forward with great joy to professing first vows in 2015.  Now, as a young religious, I want to help other young seekers discover similar joy.  Our call to wake up the world starts with encounter.  We must put our energy into places and spaces for these encounters to happen.  We walk with others, one at a time, as that which is already in them ignites, awakens, and sets aflame!  What might God be stirring up?

Name: Sr. Tracy Kemme
Congregation: Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati
Stage of formation: Second year/Apostolic Novice
Hometown: Fairfield, OH
Current Ministry: Catholic Social Action Office, Archdiocese of Cincinnati; Writer for Global Sisters Report

Thursday, December 18, 2014

I'm in; are you?

By Sr. Paris Slapikas 
December 1st of every year, the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth celebrate our foundation day.  This marks the day our community started in 1812.  How wonderful that this year, not only are members of our SCN family celebrating, but all religious as we begin the year of consecrated life.

The Nazareth SC's come from humble beginnings on the frontier in Bardstown, Kentucky, when a few young women arrived to start a religious community in response to the bishop's request.  I imagine they had some of the same questions I had when I entered:  is this really what God wants from me and for me?  Can I commit to this?  Where am I being called?  I'm here, now what?  
While I can't know for sure what their thoughts were during those early days, I am certain that they couldn't have imagined how their numbers would grow or the diverse ministries that the community would become engaged in. They couldn't have predicted the places we would go within the U.S. or that we would start missions in India, Belize, Nepal and Botswana.  As SCN's and associates celebrate our founding, we remember special moments in our history where we responded to God in the pioneering spirit of our foundress.  We also know that our founding continues and will go wherever we are as we continue to creatively respond to God's call.

Similar to our early sisters, I don't know what the future of religious life holds.  However, I am confident that if we continue to walk in the footsteps of the sisters who have gone before us, 
if we continue to build on their wisdom, 
if we continue to respond in faithfulness and love, 
and above all, if we trust in our God, 
we will help to bring about the reign of God in ways and in places far beyond our imagination.  
I'm in, are you?

Name: Sr. Paris Slapikas
Congregation: Sisters of Charity of Nazareth
Stage in vows: Temporary professed
Hometown: Tuscaloosa, AL
Ministry: Supervisor of domestic violence and sexual assault shelter in Louisville, KY