2018 2018 Novices back row Jennifer Berridge Sally Koch Sarah Simmons front row Joann Caramanico Chizuru Yamada and Tram Nguyen 2

By: Sr. Patty Johnson 

On August 1, six novices traveled from across the country to Rochester, N.Y. to begin their 10-month Federation canonical program.  They are Jennifer Berridge (Congregation of St. Joseph- Wheeling, W.Va.), Joann Caramanico (Philadelphia), Sally Koch (Carondelet-Los Angeles), Tram Nguyen (Orange), Sarah Simmons (Congregation of St. Joseph- Kalamazoo, Mich.), and Chizuru Yamada (Carondelet-Los Angeles- Japan). Get to know more about each of our novices by viewing the video they have prepared.

The novices join in prayer with their novice directors and congregational leaders.

The novices were accompanied to the orientation by their novice directors or congregational representatives. Upon arrival they were greeted by the novice directors, Srs. Barbara Staropoli (Rochester) and Michelle Lesher (Philadelphia). Sr. Sharon Bailey, president of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Rochester, formally welcomed the novices to their new home.  Sr. Barbara shared that she understands what it takes to be open to a brand new experience. She told the novices that "to slow down will be an adjustment. You will have the time to take 

The novices and their directors received an overview of their next ten months. Sr. Marie Benzing (Congregation Of St. Joseph) — who will be accompanying Sr. Sarah — said the schedule included "engaged speakers who have a passion for the topic."information in, process with us and within yourself and to just be. The gift of this year is that space." Sr. Michelle added, "this is the group that was meant to be here… sisters, companions on the journey, and supportive presence. This is who God has brought together."

"It is a combination of input for the head and the heart," Sr. Marie continued.

On our novitiate page, you will be able to see information about the various presentations that are being offered. We will feature a general outline of what is being offered, in six-week increments, for people to follow along with.

Sr. Barbara Staropoli and Sr. Michelle Lesher, our Federation novice directors

Sr. Jane DeLisle (Orange) — who will be accompanying Sr. Tram — shared that she especially appreciates the travel portions of the curriculum.  The novices will have quite a travel schedule: an inter-congregational novitiate experience in Pennsylvania on "Social Analysis and Theological Reflection;" a Religious Formation Conference program on "Intergenerational Living" given by Sr. Anne Letourneau (Congregation Of St. Joseph); a visit to the lovely shores of Lake Ontario, Canada for "Charism in Light of All Creation," a program given by two of our Canadian Sisters of St Joseph Mary Rowell and Linda Gregg; and an immersion trip in New York City which will expose them to our work at the United Nations and other ministries that serve those who are marginalized by society. 

New this year is the engagement of intergenerational teams (seasoned member listed first, followed by newer member) presenting on the three vows and "Religious Life in the 21st Century." Srs. Charlene Diorka (Philadelphia) and Anita Kurowski (Rochester) will be presenting on the vow of poverty in October. In November, Srs. Jane DeLisle and Thuy Tran (Orange) will present the vow of obedience, followed by Srs. Janet Mock (Baden) and Mary Lou Mitchell (Rochester) who will present the vow of chastity.  In January Srs. Kathleen Durkin (Congregation of St. Joseph) and Colleen Gibson (Philadelphia) will be presenting on "Religious Life in the 21st Century." 

Also new to this year's novitiate is the concept of "deepening days." The novitiate will offer three "deepening days" the following week after a presenter. These days will provide an opportunity for further discussion on the previous week's topic, additional reading or just more time to go deeper with the material that was presented. The "deepening days" allow some flexibility for the group — it can also include time for the presentation of information on a related topic or allow the novices to integrate artistic expression into their reflections.  Sr. Jeanne Marie Gocha (Carondelet- Albany), who served on the Life Long Formation Committee and is now the Carondelet congregational novice director shared, "you can see already in this 10-month program the space for integration. There is room for flexibility and deepening that has been so much desired." Srs. Jeanne Marie and Carol Brong (Carondelet- Los Angeles) will be accompanying Srs. Chizuru and Sally.

Sr. Jeanne Marie Gocha chatting with Sr. Sally Koch.

It is interesting to note that six of the presenters went through the Federation novitiate. Sr. Miriam Ukeritis (Carondelet) reflected on this.

"In the late 90's, I was part of the Federation Governing Board [today's Leadership Assembly]," Sr. Miriam said. "I recall the meeting in Orange where we, as Federation Governing Board, dared to commit to sponsor a Federation Novitiate program. Being in Rochester this week on behalf of the Leadership Council as we welcomed six women to the ten-month Federation Novitiate, I gave thanks for all who pioneered those first gatherings, planned the many programs and participated in the evolution of what we now celebrate."

Sr. Christine Riley (Congregation of St. Joseph), who will be accompanying Sr. Jennifer, said, "I'd like to stay for this program and be part of it. It is very exciting with enough time for reflection and integration. It is holistic in its' approach."

For a video tour of the new novitiate in Rochester click here.

[Sr. Patty Johnson is executive director of the U.S. Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph]