This article is the second in a series of three articles written by a member of The Arcan Communications Committee.The first article , written by Cora Shebib sc Associate, was circulated to the Atlantic Religious Congregations and Associates Network(ARCAN) in the fall of 2015. This article repeats some of Cora’s reflection, takes a brief look at ARCAN’S beginnings and shares with you the fruits of the October,2015 meeting at The Barat Residence,Sacred Heart Convent, Halifax ,N.S.
ARCAN first met in the CND’s Stella Maris Convent in Pictou , N.S. in 2002.The following congregations and associates were represented at that first meeting:PEI Marthas, Antigonish Marthas, CND’S, SCIC,Saint John, SC, Halifax, Assumption Sisters,Yarmouth,and Filles de Jesus, Moncton. Thirteen years later at our October,2015 meeting five congregations of religious and associates were represented, CSM PEI, CSM Antigonish, SC Halifax, ,Mercy N’fld and RCSJ, Halifax and representing the CND’S are two Associate co- directors. Might this be the future of other associates’ groups?
Peg Madigan cnd Associate and co-founder of ARCAN, suggested that the goal at our first gathering was to share where we have been and where could we go. Could it be a worthwhile gathering? And so we continued to meet. Our focus has changed over the years to meet the changing needs of the religious communities and associates. We wanted to build a strong and self reliant network that will help enrich and sustain the Associate experience in Atlantic Canada. To this end The Steering Committee, usually comprised of a religious and associate, meet in Halifax twice yearly to facilitate sharing among sisters and associates.The Executive committee, comprised of Chair Margie Gillis sc, Secretary Peg Gorman rcsj Associate, and treasurer Cora Shebib sc Associate, coordinate work between meetings. By 2015 the Steering Committee had worked out a vision and mission statement. They bear repeating.
Arcan’s vision is to be a mutually supportive network of associates and sisters in Atlantic Canada living a new and dynamic expression of religious life and spirituality for the 21st century, supporting and inviting each other to a wider
embrace of Gospel values, and living a commitment of Love, in relationship with all creation.
Rooted in Gospel values and inspired by the charism of our religious congregations, the mission of ARCAN is to provide a supportive network for sisters and associates from Atlantic Canada that is devoted to learning, seeking , diversity, inclusive actions, and aware of the new truth that all life is sacred and connected.
And how we live our mission is shared at our twice yearly meetings in Halifax.This networking is a valuable aspect of our gatherings as we share the highlights from our individual monthly Associate gatherings. Some highlights expressed at our Oct.2015 meeting were:1. a) Prayer flowing from Book Study of Merton’s Bridges of Contemplation b) Pope Francis Laudato Si ,c) Enzler’s My Other Self-Conversations with Christ on Living Your Faith 2) Dr Nuala Kenny’s DVD On Aging, 3) Reflection on Charism of a particular congregation and how it is lived, 4) Retreat and Reflection days, 5) Outreach Projects, 6)building associate leadership with book Rookies Rock, 7) prayer partners for sick and elderly,8) attending congregation’s assembly, 9) Creation Spirituality and 10) monthly newsletters
At our October 2015 meeting we continued to focus on three areas of our Strategic Plan ie.Executive (Succession), Communications and Finance.
EXECUTIVE: Maureen O’Keefe r.s.m. joined the group. Some topics discussed were: a) how do we replenish the executive, b)orientation for new members c) what role each member plays, d)how do we connect with members at large so that ARCAN is a visible, viable organization, e)how do we create an environment where the history and the strategic plan are widely known, and f) the need to create a membership list.
COMMUNICATIONS: Anna Rowley, cnd Associate, joined the group.We are working to increase awareness of ARCAN with articles from each member of the Communication group, through a blog , through newsletters,and with large group
conferences. We would like to attract younger members. Would youth respond if we had a justice issue?
FINANCE:The Steering Committee talked about the various ways costs are covered for associates to attend semi-annual meetings. Some congregations give Associates a budget. Others pay to send Associates to Assembly. Still others make a donation to Associates and some have access to a Legacy Fund.We do need a long term sustainable policy.Our short term goal is to send a letter to congregational leaders stating the need for financial support with a follow up letter requesting funds.
ARCAN faces some challenges. Geography can be a challenge. The CND Associates Co-Directors travel to 3 provinces to visit the Associate groups and N’fld and Cape Breton groups have geographical challenges as well .The turnover of The Steering Committee needs to be addressed. Another challenge is financial.The aging of Associates is also a concern.We will be looking at these challenges at our June 2016 meeting.
CONFERENCE PLANNING The CP Committee comprised of Cora Shebib sc Associate, Peg Gorman rscj Associate ,Margie Gillis sc and Claudette Gallant csm Antigonish were successful in booking Delores Hall, a Spiritual Director and an Associate with the Iona Community in Scotland for June 2/3, 2017 at Mount St. Vincent, Halifax.Delores shares the Iona’s Community’s passion for peace, justice and oneness of creation.
And so I ask blessings on each of us as we gather to address the challenges, to reap the fruits of each gathering and to thank you for your support as we live a commitment of Love in relationship with all creation.
Submitted by: Aline Reid csm PEI Associate
Communications Strategy Group
Which also includes
Cora Shebib sc Associate
Norma Heffernan rscj
Anna Rowley cnd Associate