Thursday, June 23, 2011

Ideally, Marianist leaders, deeply rooted in prayer, encourage the gifts of the people with whom they work in order to work towards a common vision in a way that is essentially collaborative and consensus building and strongly dependent on the action of the Spirit.
~ Me :)

It's only been a week since the last time I posted and yet I feel like there's so much to say! The day after my "trifecta celebration" (vow renewal, birthday, graduation party) I left for a workshop on Leadership in the Marianist Tradition. The picture at the top of this post is our group on the last day of the workshop.

Three years ago the Marianist brothers of the United States began a process of training the "next generation" of Marianist leaders. It is a two year training process that includes 2 summer workshops, an assessment of individual strengths and areas for growth, readings on leadership, sharing "best practices" and designing/implementing a "change project."

The first cohort finished their two years last summer. The second cohort, my cohort, began the process in September 2010 with readings, conference calls, and the individual assessment. Over the next academic year we will each be working towards the implementation of a change project with a mentor. My mentor is the brother on the back row in the yellow shirt... and I am blessed to work with such a brother!

I entered our time together in Fremont, Ohio a little intimidated. Not because I was the only Sister... I'm pretty used to that and don't mind. But because I was the only one there who is still in formation and is not and has not been in a position of leadership in the "Marianist world." The brothers in the above pic are community directors, former novice directors, former provincials, area coordinators for a region of Marianists, and a vocations coordinator. Our facilitators for the program are the former president of the Univ of Dayton and a former member of the Gen. Admin and current director of an international center for Marianist formation for the brothers. And here I was... just plain old Nicole.


If you know the Marianists at all you know that they (and I guess we) are a humble bunch of folks. I felt at ease within a day or so because there was no sense of separation among us. My voice and opinion was just as valuable as everyone else's. And... I learned A LOT. We all did, I think.

I do not want to bore you with the details of what I learned, but I would like to share with you our communal list of attributes of a Marianist leader. The definition above is one that I wrote on our first day together. On our last day, we all contributed to a list of what characterizes a Marianist leader.

This is what we discerned:
Marianist Leaders are... consultative, communal and personal, reflective listeners, anchored in goodness (preserving the core), faithful to the charism of our founders, modeled on Mary, collaborative - valuing all voices at the table, passionate for the mission, able to maintain a healthy balance, providers of options and alternatives, looking to meet the needs of the Church, making contributions to something larger than the "Marianist world," consensus building, Magnificat people ("My soul proclaims the greatness of my God!"), quintessentially feminine, modeled on Jesus washing the feet of the disciples, empowering the giftedness of others, deeply rooted in prayer - people of God, discerning risk-takers, persevering, compassionate, transparent, and people who embody an incarnational spirituality.

May each of us, and all leaders in the Marianist family, seek the Spirit's guidance to grow in these ways.

Many blessings to all who read this!
Sr. N

Friday, June 10, 2011

By the profession of the evangelical counsels

we intend to live our Baptism more fully.

Thus we unite ourselves, freely and lovingly,

to Christ’s saving mission.

(Rule of Life I.10)

Yesterday was a big day for me... Not only was it my 36th birthday (3 DOZEN YEARS OLD! When did that happen?!)... But I also renewed my vows yesterday in our Dayton community... and we celebrated both of those along with the completion of the M.A.... It was a "trifecta celebration!" A few close friends who are Marianist brothers joined our community for evening prayer followed by a social, casual dinner and conversation. It was a fantastic day!

Yesterday morning during my time of private prayer I was filled with gratitude for the year gone by... It was a full year, to say the least! Let me share with you a few of the highlights (in chronological order, of course)...
  • Last summer I joined the Marianist brothers in Louisville, Kentucky for a gathering of those of us who were temporary professed at the time... followed by their assembly at which I was a panelist in one of their discussions. I blogged about it at the time. It was such a grace-filled gathering!
  • I completed my ministry with the Marianist LIFE South program last summer and handed over the coordinator role to my friend Kristin. I worked with the LIFE program for 10 years... and they were blessed years...
  • Marianist brothers Bob Jones and Andy Kosmowski professed final vows in St. Louis in October. Sr. Laura and our two contacts made a road trip down for the celebrations... It was a weekend I will not soon forget! Beautiful! And the four of us had a great time in the car and at the retreat center where we stayed...
  • El Salvador in January... wow. What a eye-opening and graced trip...
  • LA Religious Ed Congress in March... always a blessing!
  • Marianist Women's Summit in March in San Antonio. I never blogged about that... it was the weekend before my comprehensive exams, so I wasn't doing much on line those days. We had over 50 Marianist women gathered in San Antonio - both lay and vowed, ages 20 through 82... from several states and Canada... That weekend was filled with the Spirit of God. That's the best way to describe it. Here's a link to a slide show from that weekend...
  • Celebrated the first profession of two novices and good friends - Bro. Jose Julian and Bro. Joe....
  • Spent 2 weeks in Cape May, New Jersey in May... followed by a week in Texas...
And here I am. While you might not be able to tell... each of the above bullet points was a time of great grace and a moment/event for which I am extremely grateful. There are others, of course, but these are "representative sample." :)

It has been a whirlwind, blessed year. I pray that all who read this might also take the time to make a list of events/moments for which you are grateful.... It's a wonderful way to begin the day.

Many blessings to all who read this!
Sr. N

My dear friends, I wish you the peace of the Lord, and I embrace you with all my heart.

Adéle, Letters, 192.8

Happy 222nd birthday to Mother Adele de Batz de Trenquelleon - foundress of the Marianist Sisters!

Since it's been several months now since my last post, I thought today would be an appropriate time to start again... to recommit to posting on my blog... to reconnect with you... to reconnect with me as a writer... and to celebrate this life to which I've been called.

There are many things that I admire about Adele... her spunk, her courage, faith, compassion, vision... and her ability to really connect to people and maintain those connections through the years... just to name a few. Each of the Marianist Sisters in the world have been gifted by the Spirit with a portion of the spirit of Adele - our charism. And at times I can sense that Adele is walking with me... encouraging me when I'm tempted to remain silent... smiling as I try to articulate a vision... and standing next to me as I discern possible next steps.

Adele was a woman of deep prayer - a true contemplative in action. I'm not sure how much sleep she was ever able to get... waking early to pray... writing endless letters to her "Dear Friends"... teaching... and being mother & sister to those with her. Thank God for her dedication, prayer, and spunk!

Oh, that I might have a little more of her spirit - especially as I prepare to make a transition in ministry. Yep... I have resigned from U.D. and accepted a position at one of the Marianist high schools. Officially I will be serving as Assistant Director of Ministry and Service... and also teaching 1 or 2 freshman theology classes. I have to admit, this transition is very exciting to me - I think I'm finally ready to step back into the world of secondary ed... with a new sense of purpose, vision, and maturity (praise God!). But, at the same time, I'm a little nervous. Teaching is such a vulnerable ministry, I feel.

So, that's one piece of the excitement of the past few months. Other news: I passed my comprehensive exams and now have a 2nd masters degree... I will renew my vows next week... I'm going to Rome in July (No worries, I'll blog!)... It's been a FULL few months.

Well, I must be going. Please know of my prayers... and I hope that I can depend on yours!

Many blessings to all who read this,

Sr. N