Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity Novice Sister Leslie Gonia shares a thoughtful summary about a recent Formation Weekend January 13-14, 2012 for Temporary Professed Sisters (Sister Elena Gonzales, Sister Pamela Catherine Peasel), other Novices (Sister Monica Martin, Sister Regina Rose Pearson), Postulant Regina Lehnerz, with Directresses (Sister Elaine Turba, Sister Natalie Binversie) and Formation Coordinator, Sister Mariadele Jacobs. Photographer Sister Regina Rose creates more memories with assorted images.
January might not seem like a very eventful month after the excitement of the New Year dies down. It could be a time for the doldrums. It might seem that the only action is the play offs, but there was more to be excited about than football at Holy Family Convent this weekend. It was Formation Weekend which means that all of the people in initial formation come together for a weekend of reunion, recreation, renewal, and reflection.
Fr. Joachim Studwell, OFM (Fr. Kim) presided at Mass and lead a morning talk on Celibate Chastity. Fr. Kim, somewhat surprisingly, chose to use the story of the Samaritan Woman at the well from John’s Gospel to illustrate Celibate Chastity. As it turns out, this isn’t a very surprising choice. Jesus speaks to the Samaritan woman and asks for a drink. This is surprising on many levels. She is a woman; they were alone. She is a Samaritan, and Jews regarded Samaritans as heretics. Also, the Samaritan woman is an outcast in her society, which is why she went to the well at the noon of the day though it was intensely hot. Jesus engages her in conversation and she recognizes him as a prophet. In the end, the entire village comes to believe. This is an example of chaste celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom. Chaste Celibacy only makes sense in a prophetic vocation. Jesus doesn’t just prophecy to and about her. He makes Himself known to her. Then though one flawed person, He makes Himself known to the whole village and, thus, salvation is brought to the Samaritans. This was a generative act of giving life to the people. Likewise, celibacy is a gift given to individuals for the life of the church. It is a minority gift. For those who are called to live a celibate life it is the way that they are most able to give life. Freedom comes from living the life to which one is called and thus allows one to give life generously.
All Christians are called to be prophets, that is, to announce the Word of God by the way we live. All Christians are called to be chaste, which is to have integrity in spirit, soul, and body. We are all called to give life. Some are called to give life through the gift of Celibate Chastity.
In addition to Fr. Kim, Mrs. Judy Roemer led an afternoon discussion about relationships. Judy’s talk connected very well with Fr. Kim’s topic because we give life through relationships with others. Our relationships require appropriate boundaries to protect ourselves and those around us. The discussion was very helpful in identifying ways to develop boundaries and techniques for healing when our boundaries have been broken. Furthermore, there was discussion about how to maintain “who you are” in community. There is always a risk of losing oneself when one is trying to live with and accommodate others. One must be self aware and true to oneself because that is the person God made you to be.
The weekend was filled with opportunities for growth, reflection, fun, and restoration. It think all would agree that this time was abundantly blessed.