In Our Own WordsIn August, the Novices were asked to read "In Our Own Words: Religious Life in a Changing World," edited by Juliet Mousseau, RSCJ, and Sarah Kohles, OSF. Specifically, the novices were asked to read the chapter written by Sister Thuy Tran (Orange) entitled, "Searching for Identity through the Paschal Mystery."

We're asking our sisters throughout the Federation to please "Read Along with our Novices" and share their insights below utilizing the comments section. Feel free to share how this reading has touched you or how you plan to implement it or how this relates to your own lived experience or whatever else you feel called to share with our novices.

The book can be found at Liturgical Press, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.


0 # Sr. Patty Johnson 2018-09-10 20:46
I had lived in Hawaii three years as a child. So when I returned as an adult to live for what would be 14 more years, I knew enough to understand that one of the benefits of living in Hawaii was to be exposed to other cultures. Much of what Sr. Thuy Tran, CSJ, wrote in her chapter of In Our Own Words resonates deeply with my experiences in Hawaii. As I now complete my vacation in Hawaii- I came to celebrate the Sisters being here for 80 years- I continue to be amazed by what I don’t know.

I most often choose to ask curious questions when I don’t understand what is going on. When I first arrived 20 years ago, I would attend whole meetings where I thought I knew what was going on. I always debriefed after the meeting with a Japanese American colleague who helped me understand what was really going on. I began to appreciate the insights that others shared in new ways as our conversations deepened. I was aware how much I was missing because I really did not understand the cultural context.

I value Thuy’s sharing of her experience…it takes a long while and a real relationships before people are going to trust and share about their real perceptions, how they feel, and why. On this trip, a friend of mine engaged me in a discussion about the after-life and Confucianism. Although death has been an important factor in his life which we have discussed many times, this was the first time he shared what his family taught him and his ponderings about it.

Communication is often indirect here in Hawaii. Although at first it drove me crazy, I really began to see the benefits of managing anger, frustration, or any strong emotion in new ways. It takes a lot of practice but it really is the most effective way to communicate here. In fact, although I am usually pretty direct, I find there are times that I choose indirect communication because I think it will be more useful to the situation even when I am on the mainland.

I think the patient listening that I learned here in Hawaii has greatly aided me in my international work. Anyone who knows me knows that patient listening is not my usual stance- it’s not my cultural way. However, there are times now when it is my most valued practice. If you listen long enough, what needs to be said does get said.

It was good to be back eating all the local foods that you don’t get on the mainland, listening to local music, and to “talk story” with old friends. I am culturally different from my friends here. In many ways we have bridged the cultural gaps which are as Thuy indicated much deeper that food and family customs. Yet, I am aware that after living here for 17 years, there is much that I still don’t even know about to ask. I am grateful for the opportunities that I have had and the relationships that I have formed here. I am happy that our novitiate will have the opportunity to explore this chapter and later in the year have the opportunity to meet Thuy who has so much to offer.
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