What is partnership for Mission? Partnership for mission is not like a conventional business transaction. Partnership for mission is not the same as a deal struck when two parties recognize how their individual self-interests can be achieved through agreements made principally for that purpose. Rather, partnership for mission is a way of being in relationship with others which enables the mutual exchange of learning, resources, wisdom, and values, so that the interests, needs, and capacities of others can be realized more fully.
The relationship between and among partners in mission bears the distinguishing characteristics of transparency, mutuality, commitment to learning, and to achieving, through collaboration, what cannot be achieved by going-it- alone. Furthermore, through the practice of partnership, we are helped “to exercise care not to impose upon persons of other cultures our own cultural values and traditions.” (General Directory, 33c).
At the dawn of this 21st century, women religious are exploring the terrain of this new frontier called partnership for mission. We know that we are being challenged, and yes, even called through our demographics, to reconsider the traditional mission responses we have made to social and ecclesial needs such as building and staffing universities, schools, hospitals, and orphanages. We are all intuiting that we must search for new ways and new relationships through which we will continue, in our SSND foundresses words ,to “Go out into the whole world, into the poorest dwellings wherever the Lord calls us, to announce to children who are poor, the good news of God’s reign.” (Blessed Theresa).
Partnership is also a spiritual practice. It is indeed a journey in faith. It involves a willingness to explore a call, to befriend the unknown, and trust that God-is-with-us.
In 2012 the School Sisters of Notre Dame made a commitment to "direct our resources and ministries toward education that transforms and calls all to eliminate the roots causes of injustice." The Atlantic-Midwest Province responded with four concrete actions. One of them is to partner with organizations which are addressing needs in Haiti. We have partnered with the organization Beyond Borders to help the people of Haiti.
Partnership serves a very practical need. Partnership provides for SSND the mentorship and collaboration of an intermediary organization serving in Haiti—an organization with experience and credibility in Haiti, in order that we might learn about Haiti, learn about ourselves as partners in Haiti, as well as explore how best to “read the signs of the times, risking innovative responses to the needs….” (Constitution Prologue p. 19).