This past weekend, nine participants attended the ministry formation session at Villa Notre Dame. Among them were six new women entering the formation process as lay leaders in AMSSND sponsored ministries, as well as three returning participants. For the first time since the inception of the sessions in 2014, lay campus ministers were included, to strengthen the relationship between their ministry leadership and the SSND component on campus. Other participants hold a leadership role in a province department, in healthcare administration for a province facility, as a board chair, as executive director and program director, and as an assistant head of school for academics.
Topics covered in this first session were Blessed Mother Theresa and Mother Caroline. A new goal for this session was to ‘train the trainer’ through the materials offered, to enable the leaders to more readily share and implement the content of the sessions at their place of ministry. This goal is being pursued by exploring the spirit of Theresa’s and Caroline’s leadership with our leaders. Sister Joan Penzenstadler, who serves as vice president for Mission and Identity at Mount Mary University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin shared the story on Mother Theresa and portrayed her as a charismatic leader attracting others for God’s cause. Through storytelling, she elicited leadership characteristics of Mother Theresa and subsequently engaged the participants in discussing Theresa’s leadership and management style and applying that to their own ministry settings.
Sister Miriam Jansen, also from the Central Pacific Province, who has been involved in teaching, administration and congregational leadership, shared the story of Mother Caroline through the lens of a wholesome pedagogy and mission leadership. She highlighted characteristics of SSND education in today’s world and the importance of the role of the mission leader in SSND sponsored ministries. She called attention to the important connection between a mission leader’s own values, natural gifts and dispositions, and acquired competencies. In a poetic way, she described mission leaders as artisans for the common good .
In addition, she pointed out the evolution of a model of pedagogy utilized by SSND. First, Mother Theresa employing the pedagogy by Pestalozzi in the context of a democratic and individualistic society; second Mother Caroline adapting this pedagogy to the American context and today, SSND engaging and applying a pedagogy of solidarity – meaning engaging the mind and the heart and acting for the common good, thus transforming the world through education and hope-filled ministry.
Yvonne DeBruin, Director of Ministry Services, offered a context for these ministry formation sessions and pointed out resources for mission leaders on the AMSSND website. Sister Judy Schaum, associate director, set up and facilitated the weekend, and Sister Joan Vianney arranged for exceptional hospitality, which included being spoiled by the VND food service department.
The next session in the cycle will be in March at Villa Assumpta and will focus on the Spiritual Heritage of SSND and the impact of Vatican II and recent General Chapters on our ministry.