Chapter is a Verb

Sister Mary Jo Radey, CSJ


In the midst of this never-ending pandemic, we held a pre-chapter retreat in October.  The highlight for me was that we were able to get together.  To see each other, to talk to each other, to share meals and laughter once again.  After how many months?  It seemed like a hundred.

However, it was a serious affair as well.  This Chapter will be about transforming ourselves into a new reality in a yet unknown future.  That sounds a whole lot better than being about coming to completion.  As Sister Sandra reminded us, “God is always calling us to grow and change.” According to science, no energy comes to completion; it is always transformed. Yet, we must also be realistic as we await the surprise of Providence.

The Leadership Team has hired a wonderful person and canon lawyer, Sister Bonnie MacLellan, the present Superior General of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Sault Ste. Marie, to be our facilitator.  How good does that get!  Sister Bonnie was accompanied by another Sister of St. Joseph, Sister Mary Jo Radey, who led us in a beautiful process where we reflected upon and shared in table groups our personal call, our covenantal commitment and our communal transformation as Sisters of Providence.  Sister Sandra, our own General Superior, challenged us to say “Yes” to this journey of transformation together with imagination and creativity, sensitive to the needs of the world; that the congregation’s future lay in our hands.

During this retreat we pondered the life of a butterfly which begins with the hatched and hungry caterpillar that eventually munches its way into the larva stage where it rests in its own soup for a period of time.  Who would ever believe that a beautiful butterfly would emerge from that mess to make gentle flying visits here and there pollinating flowers in order to make our world so colourful and beautiful?

After working for many years like busy caterpillars ourselves, in our various ministries, are we now in the soupy stage?  If so, what will emerge in order for us to continue to serve the world in a different way than before?  Through this gathering and this process, I think the stage was set for the important work of Chapter ahead of us and – don’t forget, the Surprise of Providence!

Sisters of Providence sitting in groups for discussion.