Sisters and partners-in-mission have begun reviewing a model for a new governance structure for the congregation, as accepted by the Congregational Chapter in December and put forth in the Direction Statement.

Angela Aufdemberge, President and CEO of Vista Maria and member of the Life Seekers committee.

Governance is one of the six calls to action outlined in the Congregational Chapter Direction Statement. During the organizing process for the Good Shepherd mission, Sisters and partners-in-mission will collaborate, network, and share resources for each of the calls to action.

  • New governance structure
  • International Formation team
  • Universal culture of justice
  • Partnership
  • Congregational Strategic Plan
  • Finance resources

Keyword is flexibility

On January 14th and January 18th, the provinces of Mid-North America and Central South, Brigid Lawlor, RGS, and Angela Aufdemberge, President and CEO of Vista Maria, and Life Seekers committee members, discussed the new governance structure and its framework. Similar conversations are taking place in all regions throughout the congregation.

Carol Pregno, member of the Chapter Liturgy Committee and member of Central South U.S. Province

The keyword that has been used throughout Life Seekers is flexibility. Angela Aufdemberge shared that “As a global organization, the governance structure must meet the needs of growing geographies as well as those that are experiencing diminishment. The options for organizing within the new model provide each area with the flexibility to adopt and implement a structure that meets their unique needs. The other amazing thing is that we have the freedom to adopt one structure today and as circumstances and learning occurs, we can evolve and adjust the structure in new ways, Angela said.”

Models will look different across the congregation and across provinces (soon to be called Regions). While Sisters and partners-in-mission begin to know one another and build relationships with each other and discuss multiple possibilities around the new model, the reality is that the timeline for implementation is still some time away.

The Congregational Leadership Team will transition on April 24, 2022. The team is then tasked with organizing within six months a congregational implementation committee (CIC) to assist the provinces.

David Short, partner-in-mission at Maryhurst and member of the Congregational Chapter Planning Committee

As part of the introduction to the Zoom calls in January, Sister Carol Pregno, a member of the Chapter Liturgy Committee and member of Central South U.S. Province, reminded participants about the journey the provinces and congregation began two and a half years ago:

  • the global call for possible chapter issues and concerns;
  • the Congregational Chapter Planning Committee (CCPC) gleanings of all the responses;
  • the intersection of the 2019 International Coordinating Committee (ICC) report Zeal Calls Us to Respond;
  • the emergence of the chapter themes;
  • COVID-19;
  • adapting to the virtual environment;
  • the virtual Inter-Continental Assemblies (vICA), all 8 of them;
  • three Resource videos;
  • Sisters Under 50 Gathering;
  • Cross-Congregational zooms;
  • Province Chapters and electing delegates;
  • the powerful Congregational Leadership Team Report; and
  • the Congregational Assembly of Contemplative Sisters (CACS).

“What a grace-filled journey!” Sr. Carol said.

The beauty that is coming

Participants of the Zoom sessions felt energized and validated by the interactive process for discussing the action step in the Direction Statement for governance.

Joan Clancy, Companions of Jesus the Good Shepherd

“It’s amazing that a virus that keeps us apart physically actually helped us connect more deeply as the larger family of Good Shepherd. I’ve loved hearing so many new voices.  I know the future will hold challenges, but I can’t wait to see the beauty that is coming,” said David Short, partner-in-mission at Maryhurst and member of the Congregational Chapter Planning Committee (CCPC).

Joan Clancy is a member of the Companions of Jesus the Good Shepherd. She said, “The January zoom calls continued to solidify the surprising Emmaus experience that ICA has been for the Companions.

“Something dynamic has happened within the group that moved us from being committed women on a path together to a deepening recognition of Jesus' presence within each of us, and among us as a group.

“We have initiated Sunday Zoom gatherings, and incredible shared prayer experiences have blossomed. We especially look forward to the ongoing formation the new Direction Statement promises,” Joan said.

Sister Olga Cristobal has been missioned to four countries: Taiwan, Kenya, Albania, and the U.S. She feels good about the creative process that is unfolding for the governance structure.

Olga Cristobal, RGS

“Today in our plans for restructuring we have so many resources to prepare us. We have many materials to read, Zoom calls to participate in, and discussions in the community!

“What is to be feared in experimenting? If it doesn’t work, at least we tried. That’s how I felt in my missions to other countries. There’s always an alternative. After trying and it doesn’t work, then leave it to God,” Sr. Olga said.

Maureen McGowan, Province Leader of the New York/Toronto Province, reflected on the movement of the Holy Spirit in both the Contemplative Assembly and the Congregational Chapter.

Interconnectedness with one another

Sister Maureen said, “The Spirit was with us as we discussed who will be asked to lead the Congregation into the future. There was such a peaceful consensus in the group as we discussed who our future leaders would be.

Maureen McGowan, RGS, Province Leader of the New York/Toronto Province

“I, and the New York/Toronto Province, look forward to our next steps as together, across North America, Sisters and partners in mission plan for our future, a future-focused on our mission and the care of our Sisters as well as the Chapter Direction Statement,” she said.

Sister Brigid Lawlor chaired the Life Seekers Committee, which oversaw the process for developing the draft framework for the governance model. She said, "What has been wonderful about our “Life Seeking” as it relates to reconfiguration, is the beauty of our interconnectedness with one another locally, as a province (now) and moving towards a region, congregationally and universally.

“Together we are focused on the great expansiveness of mission. “Whether we are getting smaller or larger, older or younger, we are producing energy and life-giving hope to and with one another and all who are impacted by our charism. What a precious gift!

“Thank you for being a life-seeker on this challenging journey!” Sr. Brigid said.”

From the Congregational Chapter Direction Statement

Brigid Lawlor, RGS, chair of the Life Seekers Committee

Drawn by Divine Mystery and inspired by the spirit of Saint John Eudes and Saint Mary Euphrasia we commit to respond with a new vision, to cross boundaries, to take account of local and global realities, and, the intense sufferings of our time.

“As never before in history, common destiny beckons us to seek a new beginning… Let ours be a time remembered for the awakening of a new reverence for life, the firm resolve to achieve sustainability, the quickening of the struggle for justice and peace, and the joyful celebration of life.”

(Cited in Laudato Si´ Paragraph 207 - Earth Charter, The Hague 29 June 2000)

Trusting in the grace of transformation we pledge to respond to the new that is emerging. We set directions to be integrated, sustainable, and ecological. Informed by updated theological perspectives, systems-thinking and rights-based approaches, we will implement, monitor, evaluate and adapt accordingly with good policies and practices in relationships and ministries.

Courageously and wholeheartedly, we commit to the Calls to Action.