News and Info

News and Information

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

With this edition of The Associate, which is available to registered users for download pdf here (1.16 MB) , we are once again featuring an article on our website for anyone to read. As with the last issue, we are inviting NACAR members who have registered for the website to submit comments, questions and opinions in response to this article. As before, the intent is to initiate an online conversation where participants are able to see and respond to the article and to one another. To submit responses, be sure to login. Then, go to the bottom of the article and click on "Add new comment" or reply to any comment that has already been posted by going to the existing comment and adding a new one.

Elizabeth Fitting is an Associate of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, BVM 

Charism Diagram

The diagram above was developed after extensive research, discussion and sharing by past and present members of the BVM Associate Coordinating Committee (click on the image to enlarge it). 

Many Associates attracted by the Charism and Spirituality of a religious institute also see the Mission/Ministry of the Congregation as a "fit" for how they want to witness to the Gospel. A religious life or congregation that is sufficient unto itself is no longer appropriate for these times. New relationships of genuine mutuality and autonomy between religious congregations and the laity are invigorating for consecrated life, the Church and the world.

During the 2012 Senate of the BVMs, Associates were given time on the agenda to present a snapshot of the current state of Association. During the Associate presentation, Associate Mary Ann Krems led BVM Associates and vowed members through a presentation of the history and evolution of Association, beginning with its roots in Third Orders of religious institutes.

She described the evolution of Association as a movement from a hierarchical model in which the charism is mediated through the vowed members to a collaborative model in which all of us, Associates and members, are nourished and animated by the Gospel call and the particular charism of the religious institute. This model points out that we all are working together to live out the Charism Foundress/Founder within the context of our everyday lives to be as leaven to bread in the world. A question following the presentation was, "What form do you envision the vowed member and Associate relationship taking in the future?

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Stained glass window depicting Assumption of Mary in Bayeux, Calvados, France. © Jorisvo | Dreamstime.comNot much is happening with the work of NACAR these summer days, or so it would seem. Maybe it's the same with your ministry: fellow volunteers leave to recharge, beat the heat, re-create, meetings turn out to be impossible to arrange and setting deadlines for work output seem pointless during these days of summertime.

Thanks to all who have renewed their NACAR membership lately. I distinctly wish to recognize the Associates and Sisters of Charity – Halifax and the Associate Partners and Sisters of St. Francis of Clinton, Iowa for their sizable donations to NACAR. From a philanthropic point of view, their contributions speak volumes about their congregational leaderships' appreciation and confidence in the mission of NACAR. On behalf of our members, board and staff, thank you for your special expression of support; we deeply appreciate it.

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coffee cupsI arrived at the quaint coffee shop earlier than anticipated! (Pre-supposing I might get caught up in re-routed traffic because of on-going, New Orleans road work, Saenger Theater re-construction or even the filming of a movie, I left Holy Angels an hour prior to the planned meeting time.) Within a mere 20 minutes I was seated at a table breathing in the welcoming aroma of coffee and the mouth-watering allure of cranberry scones.

This was not to be an "eating meeting" but since I was ahead of time I made my way to the counter. Generally, I am not a coffee-house "goer" … but I became a part of a defined ritual of eating and drinking. Back at the table where I had left the agenda folder, I read the Scripture for the next day, Corpus Christi - June 2, 2013. Immediately I was struck by the references to food and drink—bread and wine—body and blood. The actions: take, bless, broken and shared came across loud and clear in 1 Corinthians 11. The Communion Antiphon was the consoling, "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him …" as in John 6:57

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I hope this finds you well vacationed, or vacationing, or simply recreated. I'm serious—associate-religious leadership is arduous. None of us is exempt from being drained or worn out! There's no-one-size-fits-all model for the associate-religious relationship to make things easy. As leaders we are incessantly listening, discerning, strategizing, creating, trying and failing and succeeding, and ... (You get the drift). But the Spirit is with us, we remember.

We just accomplished another successful workshop in the Baltimore area on the subject of Contemporary Spirituality of Association. I gleaned through a list of topics workshop participants suggested for future workshops: empowering and cultivating associate leadership; effectively dealing with divergent personalities; associate formation; networking with associate-leaders; forthcoming prospects of association vis-à-vis gradual waning of religious communities. Can you resonate with these topics? If so, you're not alone. (Now, reread the first paragraph!)

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Year of Faith logo (Cross in a Boat)When Jesus had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Push out into the deep…" Pope Benedict XVI has issued a similar call to the world Church by proclaiming a Year of Faith. From October 11, 2012 to November 24, 2013, Catholics are urged to push to the depth within their personal baptismal call to holiness and to be blessed and surprised by what God—Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier—has to offer. In the year ahead let's rediscover what we truly believe and foster the New Evangelization.

In New Testament times the weary apostles walked many roads to bring the Good News. We read in Acts 27 and 28 how Paul was shipwrecked in his effort to proclaim what he believed. Today we have the information super-highway as a modern means to spread the Gospel. E-mail, Facebook, Twitter, Blogs and other social media afford us the opportunity to share our faith without blistered feet, life jackets or microphones.

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