Spotlight on Associates

Anchored in charism, we recast our nets   
By Barbara Bacci Yugovich, Associate Co-Coordinator

(L-R) Sister Annette Beecham, OSP;
Esther Sanders, OSP Associate;
Barbara Yugovich, IHM Associate;
and Marie Wicks, OSP Associate

Among the 38 sisters and associates attending the recent North American Conference of Associates and Religious (NACAR), Sister Annette Beecham, OSP, and Oblate Sisters of Providence Associates Esther Sanders and Marie Wicks and I gathered for a retreat for associate leaders, at Loyola on the Potomac, in Faulkner, Maryland. NACAR, a membership organization, “acts as a catalyst to serve, empower and promote the associate-religious relationship.”

Presenter, Judith Gomilla, MSC, invited us to do what Jesus directed Simon the fisherman to do in the Gospel of Luke: to “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” Like these fishermen, we too cast out into the deep in our desire to serve the sister-associate relationship. We then set our sails, reflecting on how we bring our prayer and life together, recognizing that without daily prayer we will begin to “drift.” We reflected on how our prayer spaces feel most like “sanctuary” to us.

In these spaces of quiet and stillness, we can gain new insights that help us to reconnect with what “anchors” us. Sister Annette Beecham, Esther, Marie and I shared delightful conversations together about the 2015 Tri-IHM and Oblate Sisters of Providence Days in Scranton, Pa., particularly about how we are anchored in charism – then and now.

We recalled the relationship between Mother Mary Lange, the foundress of the Oblate Sisters of Providence, and Theresa Maxis Duchemin, who had been the fourth founding member of the Oblate Sisters of Providence. Together, with Ann Shaaf, also an Oblate, and Theresa Renauld, the IHM community was established; invited by Rev. Louis Florent Gillet, CSsR, these four women settled in Monroe, Mich., on Nov. 10, 1845.

We then battened down the hatches, for open discussion on the blessings and challenges of associate leadership. The blessings identified were the importance of being invited; hearing how associates experience the call and the charism of their communities; the desire for spiritual relationships, and breaking open the concept of community. The aging reality; ways to recruit and the desire for “moving forward together” were some of the challenges that were also shared.

With renewed spirits, anchored in charism, and filled with deep gratitude, we were sent forth to recast our nets in our call to serve the sister-associate relationship.