In January the members of the Kansas City Province met at the Marillac Center in Leavenworth in response to needs arising during the April 2015 election Assembly. Members expressed a desire to gather and talk about how we were with one another and how we might move into our future together.
Dr. Kevin McClone facilitated the meetings for those three days together. Talk at the tables during formal sessions and afterwards in an informal environment were rich and lively. One aspect of the discussion was possible province reconfiguration, but the emphasis was on our future and ourselves as a province.
Out of that experience, the provincial leadership appointed a Future Task Force chaired by Fr. John Wolf with members Mark Yates, Lac Pham, Al Ebach, and Alan Hartway; Fr. Joseph Nassal joined the task force in their meetings. The task force has met for two day-long meetings together in prayer and process in late February and early May to develop ways for the members to continue the Marillac conversations through lectio divina prayer and a presencing process. Our goals are to deepen the dialogue and extend our dialogue to engage the Companions about our future.
During April, the members were asked to form dyads and were given a dialogue starter of prayer and questions to stimulate deeper conversation. Based on a verse cited several times in his Circular Letters, we chose a verse used by St. Gaspar from the Song of Songs 2, 13:
“The vines in bloom give forth their fragrance. Arise my beloved, my beautiful one, and come!”
Task Force developed three questions for reflection.
- Where are the best things happening among us, in the sense of most tender and filled with mercy?
- What is our work? Where and how do we best promote our work?
- How should our community live over the next ten years and where should we be in ministry in ten years?
Thirty-three of the forty-four members formed dyads, met, and submitted a brief paragraph summary of the conversation. The Task Force then organized their responses around the Three Pillars (mission, spirituality, and community) of the characteristics of the Precious Blood missionary and also around a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and challenges lens that were expressed by the members in their dyad responses. We may use this resource for reading the signs of what we see, do we do what we say, and see what we do. These two analyses will help and direct us to go to the next deeper level. Reading together the signs of the times we can discern our future. Another aspect of our conversations asks what it means to be a member of a Society of Apostolic Life in the Church.
At this time the Task Force is recommending that we take our dialogue to the whole community of companions and members; at the Assembly in June the Task Force will have some time on Wednesday afternoon to model a deeper dialogue for the whole community and bring everyone up to date with a presentation and an opportunity for questions and answers.
The Task Force has further recommended to the provincial leadership that the members meet again. The province has scheduled a members gathering at the Marillac Center, August 22-24, again with Dr. Kevin McClone as facilitator to pursue our questions about our future more deeply. Members need to add these dates to their calendars and save them for this important opportunity for community. A letter from the provincial leadership announcing this gathering of members has already been sent.