From October 15 – 21, 2017, I was blessed to be able to attend the Federation Grassroots Retreat at St. Joseph Motherhouse, Sisters of Charity in Cincinnati, Ohio. The weather was beautiful and provided an incredible backdrop to a wonderful week of sharing, friendship and conversation!

As we know, the Sisters of St. Martha are members of the Charity Federation. The Sisters of Charity Federation is an organization of 14  Congregations of Religious women in the Catholic Church who are able to trace their lineage ( or associations ), back to St. Elizabeth Seton, St. Vincent de Paul and St. Louise de Marillac.

The purpose of the Sisters of Charity Federation is to facilitate collaboration in projects related to Ministry and other areas of common concern.

The Federation was founded in 1947, in part to advocate for the canonization of Elizabeth Seton, but has since expanded its role. The Federation became better organized  with the Decree on the Adaptation and Renewal of Religious Life proclaimed October 25, 1965 by Pope Paul VI which stated that…” independent institutions and Monasteries should……..form Federations if they can be considered as belonging to the same religious family”.  In 1997, the Federation gained recognition as a Non Governmental Organization (NGO) of the United Nations, where it serves as an advocate for the Sisters concerns for the poor.

The week consisted of 5 days of Retreat and 2 days of a workshop. The facilitators for the week were Sr. Judy Metz, SC Cincinnati and Sr. Alice Ann O’Neill SC Cincinnati.  Each morning we gathered for early Mass, followed by prayer. The morning presentation was focused on a different aspect of the Sisters of Charity Charism, so there was a talk on simplicity, humility, charity, care and candor. Following the Charism talk, there was a presentation on contemplative conversations. The information shared with us was based on a book by Judith Glasser entitled ; Conversational Intelligence.  “ Conversational intelligence allows us to connect, engage, navigate with others, and it is the single most important intelligence that gets better when “WE” do it, meaning our individual capacity. Conversational intelligence expands when we practice it with others and when we all focus on it altogether……Conversations are the golden threads, albeit fragile ones, that keep us connected to others.” ( J. Glasser)

There were approximately 30 participants for the Retreat of which only three were Associates. Myself, as well as two Sisters of Charity (Halifax) Associates. A fourth Associate from SC Cincinnati joined us for the workshop.  In total, there were 5 Canadians, the three Associates, Sr. Jovita MacPherson, CSM and Sr. Pat Poole, SCIC. Sr. Alice Ann O’Neill SC was born and raised in St. John, NB and was included as one of the Canadians as she has dual citizenship. Sr. Alice Ann brought the total of Canadians to 6!

Sr. Jovita as well as Sr. Pat were members of the Grassroots planning Committee. The Committee worked very hard. The participants were grateful for all of the planning and preparations. It was a wonderful week!