News and Info

News and Information

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

Sisters of St. Louis LogoOn behalf of NACAR, I offer a BIG WELCOME to our latest new congregational member—the Associates and Sisters of Saint Louis. Their mission primarily engages a variety of ministries, including community development, education, healthcare and pastoral care. The community's charism is Sint Unum—May all be One—which is shared among 800 associates and religious worldwide. There is additional information about the Sisters of Saint Louis by visiting their website at

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David and Ellen LavenderThe Summer 2013 issue of The Associate has many wonderful photos and articles! Hope you take the time to read it and respond to the main article posted on our website. Conni Dubick, OP-A and Elizabeth Avalos, BVM and the Communications Committee, have recently taken responsibility for this publication. We are grateful for their time, energy and expertise.

For over 6 years, David Lavender served NACAR as the Editor of The Associate in a volunteer position. He created layouts, edited text and photographed many of the subjects you saw in past issues. He was present at every Conference behind the camera and taking notes. We are grateful for his years of expertise and for serving NACAR members in such a tangible way. We are grateful to his wife, Ellen, as well, who was a member of NACAR for many years. Blessings, David and Ellen!

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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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With this edition of The Associate, which is available to registered users for download here , 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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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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