By Sisters Mary Beth Moore
Bridge: a noun and a verb. The group so named in the congregation reflects that reality. We are the Sisters who entered from 1965 to 1992, when the last woman to remain in the congregation began initial formation. Participation is optional. About twenty-eight sisters have joined ad hoc meetings since we began in 2019. The Congregational Leadership Team at that time thought it would be good to gather this unique cohort with the goal of creating a space where we could get to know each other better. At that first brief gathering, we dubbed ourself, “The Bridge Group,” desiring to be a bridge to the future as our congregation aged.
We met as a whole once again on the afternoon of June 1st, taking advantage of the free afternoon before the start of Assembly. We have gotten to know each other better over the years. This time, the planning committee, Sisters Mary Beth Moore, Jolaine States and Mary Sweeney asked participants to prepare a “genogram” or family tree to share with each other. The planning committee hoped that exploring our family history would deepen gratitude for those who came before us. Sharing this detailed personal history would also lead to a greater appreciation of one another. Part of the small group exploration also included a reflection on foremothers in the congregation—Sisters whose witness has strengthened and inspired us over the years.
The hope that the meeting would draw us closer was fully realized. The question for the plenary session was,
We have each constructed our own genogram … Our ancestors—both familial and religious–have informed us of their powerful contributions to the society of their day and time, as well as to our present cultural, ethnic and religious identities. In this way, these ancestors have helped prepare us for our own time.
We constitute a unique cohort of Sisters of Charity – Halifax. As we face our present–a time of reckoning–what resources do we bring and/or need to meet the challenges now and into the future?
In responding to the question, ably presented by facilitator Sister Elizabeth Bickar, we focused squarely on the present. We expressed gratitude for the support we have received. We were amazed at our own diversity simply noting the wide variety of ethnic backgrounds that we come from. And we were able to see more clearly the diversity of our congregational backgrounds as well. From 1965, when the last group of American and Canadian Sisters did their formation together, through the brief experience of a double novitiate in Wellesley and Canada, and then on to a plethora of formation locations in Halifax, Ontario, New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts, we saw how the ground was shifting under our feet, even when we first embraced out vowed commitment to the Sisters of Charity.
We of the Bridge group, ranging in age from early sixties to late seventies; conscious that several of our members struggle with serious health challenges; aware that we have an important role to play in this moment of completion; affirming that our membership in the congregation is deeply cherished–join with the whole in committing ourselves to “give joyful witness to love to our last breath.”