by Fr. Joe Nassal, C.PP.S., Provincial Director
As the missionaries from the Kansas City Province gathered on Monday afternoon, January 25, 2016 at Marillac Conference Center in Leavenworth to begin three days of dialogue, there was some apprehension. But our uneasiness gave way to appreciation and affirmation later that evening as we began to reflect on our hopes and dreams for our time together.
Dr. Kevin McClone of Catholic Theological Union in Chicago guided us in establishing a safe place through a process of Contemplative Conversation to speak to one another on a deeper level marked by openness and trust. Among the hopes and dreams brought to our awareness on that first evening was how we need to “clean out the stables of fear” as we focus our energies on our spirituality that stresses “mercy, acceptance, and ministry to the marginalized.” We held up for one another “our giftedness as individuals and as a community” while also challenging each other to “stretch our boundaries” and to see each other with new eyes. Though we wanted to be “realistic about issues of aging, diminishment, and vocations,” we also wanted to find ways “to connect with one another” on a deeper level as we seek to promote “our charism and spirituality.”
The tone of our gathering was set that first night as we sought to create an environment of trust, with space in our schedule for prayer and liturgy, individual conversations, table discussions, and socializing. Throughout our days together, we reflected on our ministries, community, and the challenges we face as a province. Members were open about their fears for the future but there was a strong consensus that fears waste energy and what is needed is hope as we sense the stirring of the Spirit and draw upon the inspiration of St. Gaspar to create something new.
As we gathered for our final session on Wednesday morning, the members committed themselves to a process of renewal and dialogue with one another, with companions, and with other provinces. Several members volunteered their time and gifts to be part of a Futures Task Force to be appointed by the Provincial Council to help move the process forward.
The Vision Statement from the XX CPPS General Assembly in July, 2013 challenged “every missionary to embrace the responsibility of shared leadership for the well-being of the community.” For these three days at Marillac, members brought this vision into reality. Now, the work of transformation continues with a renewed energy, enthusiasm, and hope for our future.