Combined, the eighty-three Sisters of Divine Providence in the U.S. Province represent almost five thousand years of religious life (4770 years to be exact). How might this vast well of experience and spiritual wisdom be tapped in an ongoing way as the American Province moves into the future?
Following the close of Chapter at the end of June last year, plans to form an “Advisory Circle” of Sisters began to take shape. However, it soon became clear that the Holy Spirit had something more expansive in mind for the Province.
Originally conceived as a small group that met regularly to consult on topics proposed by the Administration and to bring the ideas and concerns of the Sisters to the table, the vision soon took a form that would embrace all Sisters in a continual flow of conversational give-and-take.
Each Sister of the Province who is able to do so now participates in one of nine “Wisdom Circles,” where she meets in alternate months with six or seven other Sisters in a randomly-formed group. Facilitated by a member of the Advisory Circle, the Wisdom Circle provides a venue for lively and frank discussion around specific issues, both internal and external, that have been surfaced either by the Sisters or the Administration. The Circles are fertile ground where the seeds of new ideas and opinions are received and considered in greater detail by the deeply spiritual and wise women with whom we share life. Each group’s “wisdom” is then brought by its facilitator back to the Advisory Circle, where contributions from all the groups are further pondered, processed, and shared.
The Chapter of 2019 also found the Sisters adopting a mandate to become a Laudato Si community, an element of which calls us to “educate ourselves on its responsibilities and benefits.”
This element also has taken form in the province as a set of small groups meeting bi-monthly. In a process spearheaded by the Ongoing Formation Committee, Sisters reflect on a section of the encyclical in-depth before meeting to discuss and share the many ways their local communities are translating the fruit of their prayer and study into concrete actions that care for Earth, its life community and its resources.
With the Wisdom Circles and Laudato Si groups meeting on alternate months, care for the earth is continually being integrated with the Province’s own movement into a future “full of hope”— a future resourced by and founded on the treasure that five thousand years of walking side-by-side with Divine Providence brings!