News and Info

News and Information

News and Information for members of and people interested in the North American Conference of Associates and Religious.

We just received the following news from Amy Kulesa, Director of Associates, Sisters of Bon Secours USA:

Jean SonnenbergIt is with sadness that I write to share that former Director of Bon Secours Associates (1995 - 2006), and one of the founding members of NACAR, Jean Sonnenberg, passed away Saturday afternoon, around 3:30 p.m. She died with her daughter at her side, who was holding her hand and singing Amazing Grace. She received a visit from three Baltimore-area Bon Secours Associates earlier that day. Jean shared so much of her deep spirituality during her many years as Director and treasured the years she served the Associates and Sisters of Bon Secours. In addition, she was instrumental in the founding of NACAR and its early development as a member organization (see NACAR History).

Her daughter has communicated that a memorial service will be held in two weeks or so. As we receive those details we will be sure to pass those on to you.

Please pray for Jean, as she passes into Eternal Life, and for her daughter and extended family and those who mourn her passing from this life.

Cards could be sent to her daughter, Kaiya.

Kaiya Larson
2815 Sagewood Drive
Glenwood  MD  21738

Read Jean's Prayer for a Labyrinth Walk here.

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Have you ever stopped in the middle of something and puzzled over what you are doing and asked why?  I can get so caught up in daily projects and a narrow mentality just robotically doing things.  I lose a sense of direction on what is becoming in the grander scheme of things—the big-picture perspectives of purposes and whys.   

Organizations, no matter what their size, customarily ponder similar questions.  You see them discussed at retreats, workshops, meetings and other occasions when people come together to take a deep breath, refocus and reenergize.  Amid these structured activities, leaders urge their groups to keep in mind the fundamentals of their organization like core values, mission and vision as easy ways of keeping centered on purposes and whys.  Take NACAR’s dedicated activities, for example:


The North American Conference of Associates and Religious is a membership organization that acts as a catalyst to serve, empower and promote the Associate-Religious relationship.


Becoming a vibrant, viable organization that collaborates with regional partners to promote association in all its forms.

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Advent WreathToday marks the beginning of Advent! It's the start of a new liturgical year and twenty-four days of preparation for the celebratory coming of Jesus—an occasion for peace and renewed hope through the feast of the Nativity of Our Lord on Christmas Day. And so we prepare ourselves for rejoicing.


The board of directors had its fall gathering last month to begin formulating a strategic plan. We agreed NACAR's Mission statement adequately describes our purpose and mission activities. Next was attention given to the question, "what does NACAR want to become as a result of its mission?" In other words, what do we want NACAR to look like at some point in the future? This is what we came up with:

A vibrant, viable organization that collaborates with regional partners to promote association in all its forms.

The statement's words/phrases such as vibrant, viable, collaborates, regional partners and promote association provide excellent substance for planning goals. For starters, we brainstormed these: resolving the need for an executive director; broadening benefits and services; outreach, development, and recruitment of members; promoting relationships among regional associate groups; expanding board and board committee memberships to include regional representation; and exploring fundraising prospects.

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Sisters of St. Dominic of Tacoma 125th Anniversary Logo On behalf of my board colleagues, permit me to be among the first this day to wish you that this New Year be filled with hope, happiness, and success for your leadership.

My particular hope for all of us who are affiliated with NACAR is that during this New Year, we will come closer towards achieving our vision:

A vibrant, viable organization
that collaborates with regional partners
to promote association in all its forms.

Here are a couple of announcements for your consideration:

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Tree in the fall with changing colorsI was vividly reminded of the fall season about two weeks ago when my board confrere Conni Dubick and I traveled to Wisconsin where we met with a group of Midwest Kindred Spirits associate leaders in Fond du Lac. While "back there," I noted the amazing variety of fall colored leaves ever so beautiful. "Out here" where I live, urban Californians the likes of me don't experience the richness of fall colors; rather, the landscape is more like dead-looking brown leaves cluttering the ground, or trees simply remaining forever green.

My goodness! The Thanksgiving holidays are just around the corner.

Have you had an opportunity to review the results of the 2013 Associate Leadership Survey published last month? The full report provides data around roles and compensation for those in associate leadership positions within religious congregations. pdf Registered users can download it here (210 KB) .

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