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IHM Associates: staying connected during this pandemic
By Anne Crimmins, IHM, and Barbara Bacci-Yugovich, IHM Associate

Associates have found creative ways to stay in touch! Here, Associate Council members meet, in person and via Zoom (masks went back on right after the photo). (L-R): Ruth Meiring, Barbara Bacci Yugovitch, Chuck VanVleet, Pat McCluskey, IHM, (on Zoom) Anne Crimmins, IHM, and Kate Keever.

Someone asked not too long ago how the IHM Associates are weathering the pandemic. Our response is that associates are doing what they always do: living the IHM mission in their daily lives and participating in Mission Circles and Wisdom Circle groups, as are many of the sisters. They are faithful members of the Blessing Circle, remembering all involved in the IHM mission in their prayer. They are signing up for Zoom conversations to participate in holiday conversations or to engage with others around topics such as IHM Spirituality.

Associates employed at the Motherhouse line up
with the other IHM employees to have temperature
checks and to respond to questions about the
virus prior to moving on to their workspaces.

There are currently five associate candidates accompanied by IHM mentors. A key part of candidacy is to meet other IHM Sisters and Associates. Since the traditional options for helping this to happen are curtailed, we invited these candidates and their companions to Zoom afternoons of reflection focused on elements of the Associate Candidate Journal. The first event took place in November 2020. The second took place in January and the third in February 2021.

Occasionally, associates ask about an opportunity to connect with other associates. Currently, the traditional ways are not options. So, the Associate Office is sponsoring a virtual tea. Associates who register will receive a Zoom link to connect with other associates for prayer, socializing and possibly some shared reflection on the phenomenon of associates as a vital part of the present and future of religious life.

At their December meeting, the Associate Council members mused about concern for their peers during this time. From this concern came the plan to do phone outreach to associates to inquire about their wellbeing. After the initial contact, they are asked about their current involvement in the IHM mission. Support is offered to facilitate connections as needed. Associates, along with the rest of the community are encouraged to watch for community announcements, sign up and attend. We hope for in-person celebrations this summer: Assembly/Celebration of 175 Years of IHM Sisters, Jubilee, Associates’ lifelong commitments and having associates well-represented at all these events.