By: Sr. Patty Johnson

Federation Novitiate directors Sisters Michelle and Barbara."Longing deeply for God" comes from a prayer that resonated deeply with the 5 novices at the opening of the U.S. Federation Novitiate in August 2019. They will spend ten-months together in Rochester, New York with their Federation Novice Directors, Sisters Barbara Staropoli and Michelle Lesher.

Also attending the opening orientation days were Sisters Marie Hogan, Patty Johnson, and the home congregation novice directors.

Sr. Marie Hogan represented the elected leaders of the member congregations at the opening of the novitiate. She will be present at the novitiate at least three times this year to ensure that the program is achieving the important outcomes for which it was designed. Sr. Marie said, "It has been a gift to spend these days with our Federation novices, home directors and novice directors. As they entered into shared prayer and the orientation process, the gift of this experience was evident. They are off to a wonderful start!"

Sr. Marie, who represents the elected leaders, and Sr. Patty, executive director of the U.S. FederationCarondelet novice director Sr. Jeanne Marie Gocha — who had two novices in the Federation novitiate last year and one this year — shared, "I am excited to be here again because this novitiate continues to be a place that invites each person to grow in their discernment as Sisters of St Joseph. The group is diverse and yet they share the common desire to move forward in their discernment."

Sr. Eileen Sullivan, Springfield novice director, noted, "It is truly a gift to have a Federation Novitiate. How powerful it is to have an experience collectively rather than individually, a time for drawing oneself to God."

Carondelet-St. Louis novice director Sr. Suzanne Giblin said, "I see this time at the Federation Novitiate as a gift for me as well as for Kristina [De Neve]. I have a deeper sense of walking with the charism from the inside out and seeing it with new eyes because I am seeing it through Kristina's eyes. In some ways it's like an extended 30-day retreat walking along with her. It's also an opportunity to look back and recall my own faith journey and the fidelity of God in calling me repeatedly. I have great gratitude for God's fidelity reflected in these novices." 

The Federation novices exploring Rochester, New York, their new home for the next 10-months.Orange novice director Sr. Linda Buck shared, "What a graced beginning! This time of orientation and sharing with the five women who are embarking on this new step of the journey is pure gift. I know this time will be a space of growing closer in their relationship with God, one another, and deepening their sense of the CSSJ charism. Barbara and Michelle are wisdom figures for their journey."

"It is such a privilege to walk this path with these women," said Sr. Barbara Staropoli, Federation novice director. Sr. Michelle Lesher added, "As we pray, laugh, and share together, it is so clear that God is here delighting in our being together."

Please keep our five federation novices in your prayers: Rachel Carey (Rochester), Kristina DeNeve (Carondelet- St. Louis), Trish Doan (Orange), Leila Sullivan (Springfield), and Tracy Watson (Carondelet-Albany).

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