Recently, another Ministry Formation Session was held in-person at Villa Assumpta in Baltimore, Maryland. We had a total of seven participants which included leaders from the Academy of the Holy Angels, Notre Dame Preparatory School, Corazón a Corazón, the Atlantic-Midwest SSND Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Department and the Communications Collaborative.
Topics engaged on Friday were Catholic Social Teaching (CST), Synodality and Catholic Identity. Jens Mueller, PhD, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Notre Dame of Maryland University provided an overview and a context before detailing the principles of CST and engaging participants on how they are lived out at their place of ministry among administration, students, faculty and boards, as well as personal applications. This conversation naturally flowed into learning about the Synod on Synodality currently going on, with Synodality being a major pillar of Catholic Identity.
As an exercise, participants looked at the Directional Statement of the 24th General Chapter, Love Gives Everything, and lifted up elements of Catholic Identity contained in the statement. One hoped for outcome of this session was to deepen the sense of Catholicity in one’s ministry or department and to have an enhanced ability to promote it in one’s ministerial and departmental culture.
Saturday was marked by exploring the province’s commitment to Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation. Celeste Reinhart, SSND, developed the theme by inviting participants to identify their place in the world by way of a question of the Tsimshian Chief of the Pacific Nothwest, British Columbia “Why Are You Here?” Situated in the Big Bang and the cosmic reality, participants explored their place in the universe and the land that formed them as the basis for their calling to ministry.
As a group, in the spirit of Synodality, we told the story of the landscape that formed Mother Theresa. Through highlights of past General Chapter statements, we explored how Mother Theresa’s legacy continues to emerge by responding to JPIC issues today. S. Celeste highlighted Pope Francis’ integral ecology in the encyclical Laudato Si’ and integrated it with SSNDs striving for universal communion. She circled back to Friday’s topic on Synodality, emphasizing Synodality as a fundamental principle for JPIC. She further invited participants to deepen their calling, to include in their calling, the SSND charism as expressed in the theme of the 25th General Chapter: Living into a Prophetic Witness of Universal Communion and the five focus areas of SSND’s JPIC work.
In addition, to honor ‘Notre Dame’, she lifted up Jesus as foundational for JPIC through the Magnificat. In table conversations throughout the day, leaders were given an opportunity to practice synodality by exploring a given topic and listening to each other’s differing voices and experiences. Thus, people left the weekend with strengthened skills and a deepened personal call to the work of JPIC in their leadership roles at their place of ministry.
Prayer, shared meals, and laughter were an integral part of the weekend. The opportunity to network among ministries allowed for building relationships in support of advancing the mission into the future.
Prior to the session, a smaller group took advantage of the opportunity to visit Caroline Center to have an experience of how the mission is lived out there. A tour through the center, connecting with various staff members and volunteers showcased how an SSND sponsored ministry educates in the broadest sense. Lunch with some of the CAN/GNA and PT students and hearing their stories of participating in the programs and their dreams for the future was a special highlight.