If the Chapter opening for the Missionary Catechists of Divine Providence was any indicator of what was to come, this was going to prove to be an exceptional experience. We wanted to do things differently than before, so we placed ourselves in the capable hands of our Chapter planning committee, loaded up our Sisters in a bus and drove to the center of our city of San Antonio, Texas. Accompanied by our fellow consecrated Brothers and Sisters representing various religious communities, we filled the cobblestone plaza grounds in front of the Archdioceses’ San Fernando Cathedral.
The friends who joined us came close and spoke comments such as “We know you are going into Chapter soon—we will be praying for you.” Our response to these prayers was “Thank you—we are trying to do some things creatively—so welcome to the opening of our Chapter.” And thus, we began Chapter—with a rally and public march in the streets of San Antonio—bringing awareness and uniting our voices in solidarity with our immigrant brothers and sisters.
From February 28 through March 2, 2018, we gathered in Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel at our convent to complete the Chapter journey we began one year before. (See Spring 2017 issue of collaboration.) During the year we met during several sessions to pray, reflect, and dialogue about what it means to be community, the power of partnership, and being in-it-together. We studied different structures of governance and spoke about what structures would best fit us. We held any needed discussions about structures of governance before moving into the next steps. We reflected, wrangled, cried, laughed, discerned and came together to begin to create a new future for ourselves.
Our Sisters in discernment for leadership who had walked together in communal discernment shared their experience of discernment and their vision for the future. We then listened to the responses, hopes and prayers of all the community members. When the community was ready to move into the election we proceeded with the process in the sacred space we created in the Chapel. The results were that the seven sisters remaining in discernment were elected/affirmed into a circular model of leadership. While each sister holds a title i.e., Congregational leader, council-or, leader, it was agreed that they would function as a team, each with equal voice and with distinctive areas of authority and responsibility.
The community continued in Chapter by returning to the work of crafting our vision for the following years. We worked at tables and then shared our plans in an open forum. We listened with one heart as we called ourselves to support, work together, be patient and accountable as we live into this new governance structure of congregational leaders. The journey together has not been an easy one; however, we know we are listening to our deepest longing and God’s call to transformation. These times have been grace-filled and sacred indeed. Together in our charism, mission and heart, we continue on this shared journey of transformation.
With a grateful heart to our Provident God and all who offered prayers during our Chapter of Elections, the Missionary Catechists of Divine Providence have a new leadership team for 2018-2024. We will embrace a new model of governance. Circular model leaders: Sisters Carmen Therese Lazo, Delia M. Herrera, Anne García, Mary John Trevino, Guadalupe Ramirez as congregational leader, Esther M. Guerrero who will join the circle of leadership after a year sabbatical, and Elizabeth Ann Guerrero (affirmed to be a leader within the circle).
We go forth trusting in our Provident God.