Sr. Anne Karges, right, current congregational leader of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Hamilton, gives Sr. Lucy Godrey a scarf. This is a symbolic gesture of becoming part of the new Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada. Photo courtesy of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada

Sisters of St. Joseph move forward in unity

  • December 2, 2012

MARKHAM, ONT. - The newly formed Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada are moving forward with a direction statement reflecting the unified congregation.

“In the state of God’s evolving design, we embrace this new moment by opening ourselves to ongoing conversion, rooted in a graced evolution of consciousness,” said Sr. Margo Ritchie, speaking via telephone as the order’s chapter in Markham, Ont., wrapped up Nov. 24.

From this foundation, the sisters have committed themselves to discern and engage in the transformation that is needed to move toward a more just world.

“We’re trying to recognize how we’re part of the system in our world that needs changing so how we’re interacting in those systems also needs to change,” said Sr. Sue Wilson. “It’s not just about changing things out there but changing how we are in relationship to those bigger systems.”

The congregation officially formed Nov. 22 as an amalgamation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Hamilton, London, Peterborough and Pembroke.

“We’re pretty committed to not just having a nice statement that we get framed,” said Ritchie.

As well, in their new philosophy statement, there is a focus on elimination of poverty and ecological justice, she added.

“We recognized that in those issues, women and indigenous people are disproportionately affected.”

Their partners, such as KAIROS, the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace and Citizens for Public Justice, will be an important aid in helping the sisters to decide which of their “transformational energies” need to be released, said Sr. Joyce Murray.

“We don’t work alone any more,” said Murray. “We used to run hospitals and schools on our own. Those days are long past. Now, we work with others.”

Elected at the chapter, the new leadership circle is Srs. Jean Perry, Congregational Leader Veronica O’Reilly, Joan Atkinson, Anne Karges and Loretta Manzara.

But not all of the former congregations have a delegate on the leadership team, including Peterborough and Hamilton, said Ritchie.

This was a choice made after much discussion, she added.

“It’s just a sign of how we’re working together.”

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