CACS planning underway for 2020

The planning committee for the Congregational Assembly of Contemplative Sisters (CACS) met at the Province Center in July to advance their plans for the 2020 Assembly. The committee began its work in Rome this past January. They meet regularly to unify their thoughts into a single focus that they will present at Assembly. The Contemplative Congregational Leadership Team has tasked the planning committee  with clarifying the vision for the Contemplative Sisters moving into the future.

CACS and the new vision of Mary Magdalene

The CACS planning committee believes that connecting the past way of thinking with a new vision for the future can bring new life into Contemplative Communities. One way of doing this is by looking at the new vision of Mary Magdalene, who is being rediscovered as a contemplative woman — something Saint Mary Euphrasia knew all along, according to Sr. Sharon Rose Authorson.

She said, “Mary Magdalene was in full relationship with the Lord. Saint Mary Euphrasia called her the first Contemplative.”

“The teaching of the Church is evolving. We want to bring this vision, the new wine of Mary Magdalene, to the Contemplative Assembly,” said Sr. Sharon Rose.

“This new wine of Mary Magdalene also recognizes that she was a true Apostolic and faithful follower of Jesus, Master of Wisdom,” said Sr. Janice Rushman, who is facilitating the CACS 2020 meetings.

Members of the planning committee are asking themselves a number of questions to help guide discussions at the Assembly. Chief among them are the questions:

  • How are we going to embrace the new vision of Mary Magdalene to enrich our Contemplative Communities?
  • How will we present the dignity
    of this woman to Contemplative

Sisters at the Assembly?

  • How is the new vision of Mary Magdalene relevant to the contemplative lifestyle?
  • How do we share at CACS what we envision with our Apostolic Sisters? How do we ask them, our staff, benefactors and associates to pray for us, to live with us?

“We have to reflect and ask ourselves how the Church is inviting us to see differently what the vision is for the contemplative lifestyle. Reflecting on Saint Mary Euphrasia and Mary Magdalene is growing from the call of the Church,” said Sr. Reina Escobar.

Cosmic Spirituality

Members of the CACS planning committee are also drawn to Cosmic Spirituality as a way into the future. Sometimes called The Universe Story, Cosmic Spirituality is based on the mystery of the universe and the unity of all things. The committee will provide opportunities for Contemplative Sisters to reflect on and integrate this important theme.

“The Universe Story speaks to Jesus as Master of Wisdom and Mary as Mother of the Cosmos. Our Good Shepherd spirituality connects with the story,” said Sr. Janice.

“The Universe Story is at the heart of being a Contemplative because all of creation is centered in each aspect of creation. It is about unity and communion,” she said.

Sr. Sadhani Welmillage said, “The Contemplatives have always lived Cosmic Spirituality, but we didn’t have a name for it until now. Our lifestyle has been a deep well of experience and inner life from the time Saint Mary Euphrasia formed The Magdalenes.”

Sister Cristina Rodriguez wants the Sisters at CACS to feel hope and gratitude for the future of Contemplative Communities. She said, “The young and middle-aged Contemplative Sisters ask, ‘What is happening with vocations? Where is the new life in our communities? How are we as Contemplative Sisters relevant in today’s age?’

Open the heart, the mind, the will

“Our committee is addressing these questions. Pope Francis says to open the heart, the mind, the will. As for me, I have hope in the new life,” Sr. Cristina said.

Sister Maureen Johnson said the planning committee’s task is global. “We are being asked to be impelled by God’s love, to deepen our commitment, and to discover new ways of living contemplative life today.

“If we truly believe our contemplative life is valuable and needed within the world, then we will be energized by the Spirit to live more fully each moment God gives us,” Sr. Maureen said.

The CACS 2020 planning committee sent a survey to each Contemplative Sister in the congregation to help shape the Assembly. The committee will gather and summarize responses in November, 2019.

Jeanette McDermott

Jeanette McDermott

Jeanette is the Communications Coordinator for Sisters of the Good Shepherd Province of Mid-North America. She is a career photojournalist who has served in various capacities of print, broadcast, and corporate communications. Jeanette is devoted to creation and is particularly focused on saving pollinators and other wildlife species and their habitat. She is an ethical vegan and created the website