Cabrinian Lay Leaders Join MSCs As Together We “Widen the Space of (Y)our Tent”
Traveling from points near and far, lay leaders in the Stella Maris Province gathered June 4-6 in North Jersey to meet and confer with the Missionary Sisters regarding the formation of the new canonical entity with the region of Central America and Mexico (CAMEX) which will become official in December 2017. Missionary Sisters, representative of both the Stella Maris Province and CAMEX, were present for the MSC Leadership Conference.
Facilitated by Arturo Chavez, PhD, the President and CEO of MACC, the Mexican American Catholic College in San Antonio, TX, the goal of the leadership conference was to focus on, discuss and distil the cultural heritages and influences that will be so much a part of this new entity.
Dr. Chavez emphasized that we must come to recognize what is conscious and what is un-conscious in our minds and hearts and to be aware that there is the potential for cultural clashes as this new entity comes into being.
How can we create a new space? Using the image of the tent, a space in the desert, those assembled were reminded that there will be real challenges in this process, yet, there will be in this coming together, spaces of true grace.
The conversation about these realities began with a panel discussion headed by Sr. Pietrina Raccuglia, MSC, Provincial, Stella Maris Province; Sr. Catherine Garry, MSC; and Sr. Diane Olmstead, MSC. To provide a context for discussing the new entity, Sr. Pietrina related that currently there are 67 MSCs and 9 Cabrini Lay Missionaries (CLMs) in the Stella Maris Province. In CAMEX, there are 13 MSCs and 2 CLMs. Therefore, the new entity will have 80 MSCs, 11 CLMs and approximately up to 6,000 plus, lay collaborators – employees, boards of trustees and volunteers – in our institutional ministries.
The governance structure will consist of one provincial and three councillors. This proposed structure is now being finalized and will be sent to the General Council for their approval. Additionally, a name for the new entity will be decided upon.
Sr. Diane related that as the new entity is formed, there will be a sharing of resources: people, expertise, property and finances. Already, there have been exchanges of information and communication among the MSCs and laity. This will lead to a growth in solidarity.
Sr. Catherine said that there will be no major changes in institutional structures. She added, that there are three different countries that comprise CAMEX: Nicaragua, Guatemala and Mexico. The MSCs interface with a different governmental structure in each of these countries.
Sr. Pietrina assured all that, “the Spirit has been working. All of our lives will be transformed by this new entity.”
Following the panelists’ remarks, those assembled were invited to ask questions of the Sisters.
Cabrini Health Trustee Sylvia Falzone inquired, ‘by coming together, what can we do more of?’ The Sisters responded that we look toward a deeper understanding of theology, social justice, and solidarity. Sr. Pietrina commented, “the CAMEX MSCs have moved my soul. They work among the poorest of the poor.”
Affirming Sr. Pietrina’s statement, Sr. Antonina Avitabile, MSC said that in attending recent meetings in Central America that her “horizons have been broadened.”
Sr. Maria Elena Plata, MSC, from Guatemala, noted, “we are about creating new life. We are all part of a larger project, dreams and hopes. Our lived experiences will add more richness.” We will see “more of an internal transformation.”
Sr. Maria Concepcion Vallecillo, MSC, from Nicaragua, commented, “Integration is not easy. We could each stay in our own place, but we need to improve. This is not about numbers. This is about quality and resolving problems.” Sr. Concepcion went on to say this this is also an intergenerational experience of Cabrini, that communion will make us stronger. She offered a theological reflection on the image of the tent and the desert, stating that each institution should expand its own tent. We need to find and trace new roads and invent new ways of being with one another. We need to generate new leadership. We need to share our strengths. We should say “no” to fear and “yes” to the Providence of God and “yes” to hope. Let us walk together.
To broaden horizons and deepen the level of understanding about the various cultural realities that will becoming one, presentations were given on the historical and geo-political dimensions of Mexico and Central America given by Sr. Concepcion; of Australia given by Mary Anne Gallagher, Cabrini Health, Executive Director on People and Culture; Cath Garner, Cabrini Health, Executive Director of Mission and Strategy; and Dr. Michael Walsh, Chief Executive of Cabrini Health; and on the United States, presented by Dr. Jeff Gingerich, Provost and Academic Vice-President, Cabrini University. Each presentation served to “widen the space of our tents” in order to think and act in greater solidarity.
Throughout the conference, Dr. Chavez reminded the Sisters and laity to personally consider, ‘how wide is my tent? Where do we find ourselves with these changes?’ The lay leaders have been entrusted with this Cabrinian mission and we are challenged to see the world where we live as a global society. How do we express who we are today? How will we be formed? What opportunities will be provided for employees so that they can learn and demonstrate the charism? Together, we are people of hope. We are Cabrini.