Virtual ICA sets tone for transformation

For the first time in the history of Good Shepherd, the Inter-Continental Assemblies are being conducted online through the Zoom platform. They are taking place across the globe by region. The virtual ICA (vICA) for Mid-North America began on September 21 and ended on September 25. It included provinces of New York/Toronto, Central South, and Great Britain.

Eight vICAs will have taken place by the time the last one ends on October 16, 2020. The purpose of the 5 day virtual experiences is to continue developing the theme and agenda for the 2021 Congregational Chapter – Radical Transformation. The essence of the next Congregational Chapter will be shaped by what is said, shared and discovered during the eight virtual assemblies.

Virtual ICA format

VIrtual ICA
Congregational Leader Sister Ellen Kelly opened each of the virtual ICAs with a recorded video message.

To ensure continuity across the vICAs, the same facilitators lead each assembly and follow identical agendas and presentations. Contemplative dialogue and ritual form the core of the assemblies so that participants are centered in prayer. The atmosphere invites reflection and deep listening to the inner self, each other, and to the Holy Spirit.

“Christ, who is love and is always loving us into goodness, is with us at this time,” said Sr.Ellen Kelly, Congregational Leader of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd and member of Good Shepherd for 55 years.

Sister Ellen opens each of the virtual ICAs with a recorded video message. In her welcoming remarks, she states:

“We come together to reflect, pray and learn together in a sacred space. ICA is a time to dream about what God has in store for us, and for all those entrusted to us.

“Radical transformation is a call into mystery and to the margins. That requires courage and trust in God and each other. As much as we may value our past and are grateful for it, we must look towards the future, where God is calling us.”

Sister Madeleine Munday, Province Leader for Mid-North America, said, “The vICAs will be a foundation of planning and development in the province and Congregation for the next several years.”

2021 Chapter

More than 75 Partners in Mission participated in the vICA for Province of Mid-North America, New York/Toronto, Central South, and Great Britain.

The virtual Inter-Continental Assemblies play a critical role in preparing for the 2021 Congregational Chapter scheduled for June 11 – July 2, 2021. vICA participants are offering wisdom and insights related to four themes chosen by the Congregation as significant topics for the 2021 Chapter Agenda. If fully embraced, these four themes hold the power to radically transform the Congregation:

  1. Movement from an international to a global learning congregation;
  2. Movement to being an inclusive community;
  3. Movement to Partnership being mission-centric;
  4. Movement to develop a Global Congregational Culture that embodies mission and values consistent across all units.

Throughout the 5-day ICA journey, participants explore these themes in depth through input, reflection, and dialogue.

Governance models

In addition to examining the themes, vICA participants are studying and discussing three prototypes for reconfiguring the Congregation’s governance structure.

Sister Brigid Lawlor with the Life Seekers Committee presented brief overviews of the potential models for deliberation and feedback. Each model has a different characteristic for helping the Congregation move into the evolving future.

“One thing that is clear for all of the models is that governance’s primary purpose is to foster the charism, enable us to be about mission, and to keep us united, both as Sisters and Lay Partners together in mission,” Sr. Brigid said.

The models are future-focused for both expansion and/or contraction. The Life Seekers Committee will take the feedback from the eight vICAS and refine the models for consideration at the 2021 Congregational Chapter.

“Our work for now is to focus on the concept and a general structure for each model,” Sr. Brigid said.

The completion of the virtual ICA phase on October 16 opens the door to the next expression of the Chapter topics and will ultimately lead to setting Chapter Directives that will guide the Congregation into the future.

The Danville Community of Sisters were one group of more than 75 Partners in Mission who participated in the 2020 virtual Inter-Continental Assembly in September.

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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