Some of the Associates at the 2017 CSSJ Associate Retreat.

By: Andrea Pearson Tande

The Associate Interest Group — which was formed after the 2016 Federation Event in Orlando — has since then had a core working committee of about six people: Kerry Rusak and Sr. Rita Woehlcke of Philadelphia, Judy Swett and Kathy Tighe of Boston, Kay Komotos of Carondelet-St. Louis, and Andrea Pearson Tande of Carondelet-St Paul. Andrea also serves as the point person for the group.

This working group meets about every 4-6 weeks over zoom, communicates occasionally over email with individual congregational Associate Leaders, and has hosted three ZOOM conferences for Associate Leadership over the course of the past year

Highlights of the past year in the Associate Interest Group Community

Feedback Concerning Ongoing Formation Handbook

In the early summer, the Associate Interest Group working committee organized Associate leaders in order to give substantial feedback to the committee creating the Ongoing Formation Handbook. To do this, we communicated over email and hosted a ZOOM conference dedicated to the feedback. Beyond producing a number of good comments, this conversation also put this document in front of Associate leaders in a very intentional way. We imagine it will be a tremendously helpful document for Associate communities across the Federation.

Identity Statement

This grew out of our work reviewing the Ongoing Formation Handbook. Pages 3 and 4 of this Handbook include an excellent description of what Associates are, how they relate to the Sister community. Pages 5 and 6 outline terms like charism, mission, ministry, and vision, and offer essential elements of statements that would describe these terms on behalf of a specific group. As Associates reading this document, we felt this was an invitation for us as a group to create an Identity Statement for Associates—something that came from the Associate community itself.

To create this statement, Andrea went back to the results of the survey conducted by the working committee in 2017 (Click here to view this survey and results). This survey was conducted to learn more about our congregational identities as Associates, what is important to us, and what we want to work on together in the future. Drawing from the results of the survey, Andrea chose items and language had had been affirmed by a large majority of the responding congregations and formed it into a statement. She then sent this statement out for comments and edits first to the working group, then to the larger group of Associate Leaders. After incorporating the edits and gaining approval, the statement reads:

Federation Associate Identity Statement

Following the call to universal holiness, we Associates of the Sisters of St. Joseph are people of faith who, after a period of intentional learning and prayer, make a public commitment to live the charism of unifying, inclusive love within the context of our ordinary lives and responsibilities. We are committed to prayer, spiritual growth, and social justice. Along with our Sister partners, we move always toward profound love of God and neighbor without distinction and our living the charism is central to the vitality of the mission in the world today. We are invested in working together to create a strong future for our collective community by sharing resources, empowering future leaders, and supporting the Federation.

Feedback Concerning Interest Group Language

Most recently, the Associate Leadership community was engaged in providing feedback to the committee working on language and identity of Interest Groups in the new Federation structure. After soliciting feedback over email and in a ZOOM conference, it is clear that Associate Leaders are not satisfied that the term “Interest Group” is an accurate way of describing the Associate relationship to the Federation (especially as we move into the new structure). Associates prefer the language “Core Collaborators for Mission.”

In summary:

The Associate Interest Group working committee members have been working to engage congregational Associate leaders in the past year. Working committee members find email and ZOOM to be effective methods of communication between far-flung congregational groups.

This report is respectfully submitted by Andrea Pearson Tande (Carondelet St. Paul) on behalf of the Associate Interest Group working committee on October 12, 2018.

[Andrea Pearson Tande is the director of consociates for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet- St. Paul. She serves as the point person for the Associates Interest Group]