NACAR Board Messages

NACAR Board Messages

Each month, the NACAR Board President or another member of the NACAR Board of Directors sends a brief message to all members of NACAR. You may read those messages here.

Summer Beach with umbrella and surf board and sand castleAs the North American summer hits mid-stride, it is easy to think of the leisurely change of pace that many of us look forward to every summer. July 4th celebrations, afternoon games at the ball-park, a visit to grand-parents for the kids, and vacation from work. 

While it may be true that we in the world of Religious Life also take time over the summer for retreat and vacation, at NACAR the summer's “to do list” looks an awful lot like it does throughout the year.

First and foremost, our Member Relations office keeps the renewal information up to date, and encourages those who have not yet responded to consider how NACAR serves the Religious/Associate movement through its resources and communication network.  If you have not yet sent your dues for 2017-2018, I hope you will do so very soon.

FireworksIn Canada and the States, we begin July celebrating our self-governance and the freedoms available to us all. We are truly blessed!

There is a lightness about Summer as we are encouraged to relax, rejuvenate, and recreate. As we step away from packed calendars of deadlines, meetings, and projects, let’s take the time to re-energize our commitment to the charism and mission that grounds us in God’s Love. Let us reflect at leisure on the joys of the associate relationship and how it shapes our perspective and actions. Let us open ourselves to the possibilities of sharing our blessings by inviting others to experience their own call.

Man with eyes closed being blessedSince April 7, I have traveled from my home in Illinois to Ohio, Wisconsin, Indiana, Kentucky, and Iowa. The travel included being with three regional groups of Associates and/or Directors of Associates ...Tri-State, Midwest Kindred Spirits, and CARMA.  Although these travels are not cross country or across continents, I can attest that with this area, the Associate call is Alive Today!

Doing something different always helps me “see with different eyes.” In my travels I noticed the degree to which spring had come and I was able to recognize God’s on-going creative work in the beauty of the budding trees and in the hearts of the people. In my native Illinois this same beauty is unfolding, but somehow it is easier to see when I am not in my familiar surroundings.

Sometimes I am surprised at how easy it is to be blind to what is “right in front of us,” from the beauty of springtime to the grace and gift of the people in our midst.  In a world filled with fear, anger, and destruction, it may be safer to stay in familiar surroundings, but is that our call?

Keith Payne wrote on June 11, 2013, in Scientific American:

We cannot get to know or learn from people if we look right through them. The modern world might magnify these effects ... because the power of the unconscious is greatest when our attention is under the heaviest demands.... It makes you wonder who you have looked at today and have not seen.

As Associates and Religious we are invited to take the time to see with new eyes what is right before us. How are we called to be co-creators of God’s dream for tomorrow? How are we called, each in our own way, to share our congregational charisms for the sake of our world? Who is right in front of us ready to be compassionate collaborators? Let’s take the time to see what it is good!

Pentecost dove over flamesOn June 4th, we celebrate the Feast of Pentecost, the birthday of our church. It is not the birth of Christ, the Crucifixion, nor the Resurrection that marks the birth of the Church. Pentecost is the day when the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles in the form of tongues of fire, and Peter and others began to tell the story of Jesus to all those gathered.

In much the same way, religious congregations listened to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit and began inviting women and men to share in the charisms of their communities. Associates, affiliates or companions, were invited to join this new movement with vowed members. As time went on, leadership for this group was needed so directors were named to assist the growing numbers of associates, much the same way as the early church. More than 20 years ago it was realized that the associate movement needed to have guidance and leadership. Thus, the North American Conference of Associates and Religious (NACAR) was born. It can be said that the associate movement is the best kept secret in the Catholic Church!  Let's not keep it a secret any longer.  Invite and empower women and men by sharing your story as the apostles did on Pentecost.

Forsythia SpringSpring is the season of hope. It brings us through the last days of Lent to the glorious Alleluia of Easter. In Toronto, the crocuses whisper of its coming until one morning the burst of bright yellow on the forsythia bushes gives full voice to spring’s arrival.

But this year, not only from the burden of late winter snow but from uncertainty about our future, spring somehow feels heavy rather than hopeful. Again the forsythia has something to tell us.

Gardeners know that the forsythia bush is sometimes propagated through layering. A weight is placed over a branch to keep it on the ground. As the branch touches the earth, it sends out new roots. This portion of the branch can then be separated from the main. When re-planted it will grow and bloom.

The 2017 NACAR theme: Associate Call: Alive Today, Co-Creating God’s Dream for Tomorrow challenges us to be like the forsythia. Alive today we are rooted in Christ and watered by the vision and mission of our founders and congregations. Yet sometimes we feel weighted down by the force of our present circumstances. Encumbered like this it is difficult to see how we can ever again flourish and flower.

The forsythia reminds us that the weight which brings us low contains within it an opportunity to connect once more with the holy ground that has rooted us. It is because we bend under pressure that we will once more flourish and flower; for as we bend to touch all that has sustained us, we reconnect with the deep richness of our charisms, the long history of our companions. We will send out new roots that allow us to live and grow even if we become separated from the main branch.

This Spring we are called to become co-creators of God’s dream for tomorrow. We are called to hope, called to respond to the pressures we feel by preparing ourselves to be re-planted. So that whenever and wherever we find ourselves, we will, like the forsythia, continue to grow and bloom.