Monday, January 21, 2019

SCC Chapters: A Brief History (continued)

Our last post mentioned the November 23, 1878 letter that Mother Pauline sent to her brother, George, and his wife, Diene.  This letter contained such an easily understable description of a General Chapter that we are including an excerpt of it here:

"The purpose of this letter, dear George and dear Diene, is to inform you about something that greatly interests me and affords me much joy.  The decision has been made that the first General Chapter of the Congregation is to be opened on Pentecost, 1879, and indeed, here in Mont St. Guibert.  Mother Gonzaga and her companion from South America, and Mother Mathilde and her companion from North America have already been invited.  I am exceedingly happy about the prospect of seeing both of them again.  The companions of the Provincial Superiors will be elected in each province at a regional meeting preceding the General Chapter.  There will also be a discussion in these regional meetings as to what is to be presented and considered in the General Chapter in regard to each province.  In recent times the Congregation has spread to such far distant countries, that mutual deliberation about many affairs seems desirable.  The set-up of the foundations, habits, customs, etc., etc., in the various regions of the world are, as is well-known, very diverse; and written communication is, of course, entirely different from a verbal exchange of thinking.  Then, too, the election of the Superior General of the Congregation and her Assistants must take place according to the provisions of the Constitutions.  Times are indeed still distressing, but they are such at present, that we can get together and the considerable amount of money required for the trips is far outweighed by the benefit that the Congregation derives from the General Chapter.  I have asked the Sisters to bring along the reports of the various bishops in each diocese concerning the status and activities of the Sisters, so that they can be submitted to Rome with the report about the General Chapter."

Do you have questions you would like us to address in these posts?  Please reply to this post and let us know!

The Sisters of Christian Charity of the North American Eastern Province will hold our Provincial Chapter from February 14-18, 2019.  Please join us in praying the prayer for our Provincial Chapter.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

More from the March for Life

Thanks to Sister Donna Brady, SCC, Catechetical Leader at the Church of St. James, Basking Ridge, NJ,  for sharing these photos of St. James parishioners participating in the 46th annual March for Life in Washington, D.C.

Friday, January 18, 2019

"Vikings for Life"

We are grateful to Sister of Christian Charity Sophia Marie Peralta, Assistant Director of Campus Ministry and ESL teacher at Allentown Central Catholic High School,  for sharing these photos from the March for Life in Washington, DC.  Our prayers accompanied the faculty members and students from ACCHS (home of  "the Vikings"), who filled five buses to travel from Pennsylvania to D.C. to join an estimated 200,000 marchers at this 46th annual peaceful demonstration.  Thank you, "Vikings for Life," for your pro-life witness!

Thursday, January 17, 2019

SCC Chapters: A Brief History

As early as 1869, Mother Pauline's letters reflected that she wished to convene a General Chapter.  She wrote to Sister Johanna, "Probably in a few years, we shall, with God's kind assistance, hold a General Chapter" (December 24, 1869).   On February 21, 1877, Mother Pauline wrote to Sister Mathilde [Provincial Superior in North America], "I would have liked to propose having our first General Chapter here [Mont St. Guibert near Brussels, Belgium] and to have invited Sister Gonzaga and the dear North Americans to it, but His Excellency [Bishop Conrad Martin] thought that we should wait a little longer until everything is more firmly organized.  I realize that he is right.What a joy it will be to see you all again."  She wrote similar letters to Sister Gonzaga [Provincial Superior in South America] in February, August and October of 1877.

Finally, in November, 1878, Mother Pauline could begin to inform her Sisters of the decision to convene the first General Chapter of the Congregation  on Pentecost 1879.  By the end of November 1878, invitations were sent to Sisters Gonzaga and Mathilde, and to Mother Pauline's assistants, Sisters Anna, Walburga and Augustine. Letters were sent to the Sisters of the various provinces to inform them of the need for regional meetings (Provincial Chapters) to take place prior to the General Chapter. Mother Pauline was so joyful about the prospect of the General Chapter, that -- on November 23, 1878 -- she even wrote to her brother and sister-in-law, George and Diene, to share the great news!

Astute readers of this blog will note that our previous post indicated that, in 1859, the Sisters of Christian Charity served in one territorial region, Germany.  But, today's post refers to the year 1877, when Mother Pauline lived in Belgium and had Sisters in North America and South America.  What happened in the almost 20 years in between?  Why was Mother Pauline in Belgium?  Why were Sisters in North and South America?  When did they leave Germany?  What were the conditions that prevented Mother Pauline from convening a General Chapter in the early 1870's?

While we could spend a great deal of time going over the historical events that led to the spread of the Congregation beyond Germany, we direct you to the website of the North American Eastern Province (click here) and the North American Western Region (click here) to learn more about the history and heritage of the Sisters of Christian Charity.

Do you have questions you would like us to address in these posts?  Please reply to this post and let us know!

The Sisters of Christian Charity of the North American Eastern Province will hold our Provincial Chapter from February 14-18, 2019.  Please join us in praying the prayer for our Provincial Chapter.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Only Justice

The theme of this year's Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (January 18-25) is "Justice, Only Justice, You Shall Pursue" (Deuteronomy 16:20).  More information is available from the USCCB here and from the Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute here.

Also, please remember in your prayers all those participating in the 46th annual March for Life on Friday, January 18 in Washington, DC.  Click here for more information about the March and here for pro-life prayers and resources for the Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children (January 22). 

What is a Chapter? - Part II

The Sisters of Christian Charity of the North American Eastern Province will hold our provincial chapter from February 14-18, 2019.  In a previous post, we asked you to join us in praying the prayer for our Provincial Chapter,  In yesterday's post, we shared with you the historical meaning of chapters as a function unique to the governance of  religious orders.  Today we would like to begin to share with you the history of chapters in the Congregation of the Sisters of Christian Charity.

The summary at the beginning of the first Constitutions of the Sisters of Christian Charity (in 1859) states, "A general chapter convenes for the election of the superior general and her assistants, and on certain other occasions."

Part 3 of the same Constitutions indicates that a general chapter should not be convoked frequently so as not to be a distraction to the Sisters.  Rather, communication of the superior general with the Sisters through letters, through her assistants and through other Sisters is seen as an effective method of governance.  (Mother Pauline von Mallinckrodt, the founder and first superior general of the Sisters of Christian Charity, wrote close to 3,500 letters that exist to this day.)

According to these Constitutions, then, the reasons for a general chapter would be to elect a new superior general and to "discuss lasting problems of great importance or matters that affect the whole Congregation and the way of dealing with them" (Part 3, Chapter 3, Article 2). 

Although the Congregation consisted of one "territorial unit" at the time (that is, Germany), the Constitutions pointed toward a future time when the Congregation might be divided into a number of provinces: "Therefore, whenever a general chapter is to be convoked, it shall be preceded by a provincial chapter in each province" (Part 3, Chapter 4, Article 3).


Do you have questions you would like us to address in these posts?  Reply to/comment on this post and let us know.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

What is a Chapter? -- Part I

The Sisters of Christian Charity of the North American Eastern Province will hold our Provincial Chapter from February 14-18, 2019.  Yesterday, we asked you to join us in the "Prayer for Our Provincial Chapter."  Today, we begin a series of posts to share the history of Chapters in religious life, in general.  Subsequent posts will journey toward the specific goal of sharing the meaning of a Chapter for the Sisters of Christian Charity in 2019.

We are grateful to the Wheaton Franciscans for this description of the "History of Chapter in Religious Communities":

"Preparing for Chapter is a function unique to religious orders.  A Chapter may be held at a general, provincial or local level depending on the structure of the religious community; whether general, provincial, or local, Chapters have a long and respected history within vowed religious life.

The term 'chapter' originated with the early monks who gathered daily as a community to listen to a reading from the Rule of St. Benedict.  Little by little this gathering of the monastic community became known as 'the chapter' of the monastery and the place where it met the 'chapter hall.'" 
. . . 
"The term "General Chapter" was established by the Cistercian Monks in 1195.  All the Cistercian Abbots, from their various locations, met once a year at their founding Abbey in France.  In 1215, the fourth Lateran Council established that all religious Orders should celebrate 'Chapters' at regular intervals after the example of the Cistercians as a means of promoting the reform of the religious life."
"In the early days of the Franciscan Order, St. Francis would call his brothers together at the Portiuncula in Assisi for the purpose of formation, support, reflection and renewal.  During its founding years the Franciscans held a 'General Chapter'' twice a year:  at the feast of Pentecost (May-June) and at the feast of St. Michael (September 29).

"In 1216, St. Dominic decided his Dominican friars would govern themselves through regular chapters.  In the early years, the Order was small enough that all the communities of brothers could gather together, but by 1221, the Order had grown to a size that the General Chapters were no longer able to address all the issues from the various parts of the world.  That year a decision was made to divide the Order into provinces, or geographic regions."

Do you have questions you would like us to address in these posts?  Reply to/comment on this post and let us know!

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Prayer for Our Provincial Chapter

The Sisters of Christian Charity of the North American Eastern Province will begin our Provincial Chapter on Thursday, February 14.  In this month leading up to our Chapter, we invite you to pray this prayer with us.  (Email subscribers, if you do not see the photo of the prayer card below, please click here to visit the blog.)

Saturday, January 12, 2019

9 Days for Life: January 14-22

"9 Days for Life" -- January 14-22 --  is a multifaceted novena for the respect and protection of every human life.  Each day, a different intention is accompanied by a short reflection, suggested actions and related information.  You can sign up for email or text notifications, or find a pdf of the entire novena here.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Human Trafficking Awareness Day

Since 2007, National Human Trafficking Awareness Day has been observed annually on January 11, during National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.  The 2019 Interfaith Toolkit on Human Trafficking is available here.  A prayer to end human trafficking is provided by the Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth here.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

National Migration Week 2019

"Building Communities of Welcome" is the theme of this year's National Migration Week (January 6-12).  From Justice for Immigrants: "For nearly a half century, the Catholic Church in the United States has celebrated National Migration Week, which is an opportunity for the Church to reflect on the circumstances confronting migrants, including immigrants, refugees, children and victims and survivors of human trafficking. . . . Regardless of where we are and where we came from, we remain part of the human family and are called to live in solidarity with one another.  Unfortunately, in our contemporary culture we often fail to encounter migrants as persons, and instead look at them as unknown others, if we even notice them at all.  We do not take the time to engage migrants in a meaningful way, as fellow children of God, but remain aloof to their presence and suspicious or fearful of them.  During this National Migration Week, let us all take the opportunity to engage migrants as community members, neighbors, and friends."

A booklet of resources for National Migration Week  is available here.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Stop Trafficking Newsletter for January

January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.  The January 2019 issue of the Stop Trafficking newsletter (available here) highlights websites that provide education and action options around the issue of human trafficking.