Congregational Chapter goes into the deep

The Congregational Chapter is a go! It is scheduled to take place from November 18 through December 5, 2021, at the Motherhouse in Angers, France, if COVID subsides. Preparation for Chapter will occur online through regional Zoom calls, resource gathering and sharing now through September. The Congregational Leadership Team will monitor reports of the coronavirus pandemic to determine whether travel to the Chapter is possible.

Our Congregational Chapter deepens the work of the virtual Inter-Continental Assemblies (ICAs) that were held in 2020. Goals of the Chapter are to elect a new Congregational Leadership Team and make decisions on a new governance model for the congregation.

Congregational Chapter and the Life Seekers process

Format for Chapter preparation will be very much like the virtual ICAs, with everyone welcome to participate. This includes all Mission Partners and learning groups; and like the ICAs, Life Seekers material will feed into the process. Maureen Jenkins and Brigid Lawlor, RGS, will again lead discussions on the governance model for the Congregation.

The Life Seekers Committee received more than 100 pages of recommendations for the three governance models that were discussed at the virtual ICAs. The committee has reviewed those materials and from them developed a second Theological Reflection, which will be available as an online resource on February 8.

Several appendices will serve as background reading for the Theological Reflection. For example, one appendix lists the key features strongly supported by the ICAs. Another appendix contains an article on the canonical issues to consider, and a third appendix reports on updated demographics.

Governance model

Congregational Chapter
“Into the deep” has been added to the Congregational Chapter theme “Drawn by Love, Passionate for Justice.”

The following process will lead to a comprehensive model that can guide the congregation into the future:

  • Each community (Sisters and lay partners invited by the community) will complete individual and then a communal reflection.
  • Each community sends its report by March 1, 2021, to the Unit Leader, who then synthesizes the reports into a single unit report.
  • Unit Leaders participate in a Circle of Unit Leaders with invited guests to share each unit report and use them to complete a continental report. This takes place between March 15 and April 15, 2021.
  • Continental reports will be sent to the Life Seekers Committee by April 24, 2021. 
  • The Chapter Planning Committee on governance will then organize intercontinental Zoom calls so that all continents can share their perspectives on the continental report.  
  • The Life Seekers Committee will use the continental reports to prepare a single graphic, job descriptions and guidance for implementation.
  • Everyone will receive a draft of the continental report, and several focus groups will form to review the graphic.

(Please note that the three governance models presented at the virtual ICAs are now defunct after serving as a means of gleaning the key features desired.)

Feedback from ICAs

  1. Contemplative Sisters will provide their input into the continental reports during the Congregational Chapter for Contemplative Sisters (CACS), which will take place at the Motherhouse from November 4-14, 2021.
  2. A final draft of the continental report will be presented for approval at the Congregational Chapter.

“The experience of the virtual ICAs and the amount of feedback received from them has been very rewarding and hopeful for the Life Seekers,” said Sr. Brigid Lawlor.

“We feel that the ICAs gave fantastic feedback and clear direction. We plan to create a model that has consistency across the continents and provides a lot of room for diversity. Details about it will come from the Theological Reflection,” Sr. Brigid said.

Sister Madeleine Munday, Province Leader for Mid-North America, said, “I am excited about the transparency and inclusivity for the process, and I am thrilled that we can go forward with chapters at the congregational and province levels – pandemic notwithstanding.”

Dedicated website for Congregational Chapter

Congregational Chapter
Landing page for the website dedicated to the 2021 Congregational Chapter.

The Life Seekers process synchronizes with other processes that the Congregational Chapter Planning Committee is preparing, including a series of videos to help move the congregation “into the deep,” following up on the work of the virtual ICAs and Life Seekers. All resources are available on a newly designed website and are easily accessible according to individual schedules. The URL for the website is https://rgs.gssweb.org/chapter2021.

Those engaged in the process for organizing the Congregational Chapter are the Congregational Chapter Planning Committee and facilitators, Congregational Leadership Team, Life Seekers Committee, and Communications.

Mid-North America Chapter

The Province of Mid-North America (PMNA) Chapter Planning Committee began meeting on January 11 to resume its work to schedule and design a province chapter to select the new Province Leadership Team. The province chapter will be held online. The province chapter must be completed by June. Dates remain to be scheduled.

Members of the Province Chapter Planning Committee are Sisters Patricia Marie Barnette, Barbara Beasley, Gayle Lwanga Crumbley, Mary Carol McClenon and Liz Schille. Maureen Jenkins facilitates the committee with advisor Sr. Brigid Lawlor.

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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 veganstoryteller.com