“Living in community” is key for me.
Many sisters today talk about “living in community” as gathering regularly for sharing prayer and sharing meals yet living singly. I don’t quarrel with that choice for them, but it’s not for me.
For me, living in community means gathering regularly for sharing prayer and sharing meals AND living in the same house with other sisters.
Community is “something people do now.” It’s like we’re rediscovering what we’ve always known. But in this case choosing it deliberately. Maybe in the whole development of religious life and planetary life, some had to choose to live singly so that we could make this rediscovery.
The thing I would add is this. If there is to be a future to this thing we call religious life as Sisters of St. Joseph, then I think it’s important that some of us choose to live in community (in the same house) with sisters. I think it is these communities of sisters that hold the key to sustainability for the life, the key to attracting, and sustaining new members. And sustaining our lives as well.
Living in ‘intentional community that may or may not have other sisters’ can also be good. But my concern is the relationship between identity, boundaries and sustainability. In the intentional community movement, people acknowledge that there’s a tension between boundaries and sustainability. It’s great to include everyone, to open the doors, to open the community. But that isn’t sustainable in the long run. The intimacy and identity of the group are dissipated.
Sustainability of the Sisters of St. Joseph isn’t everything, but personally I feel called to live this life, and to do what I can to ensure its sustainability for the next generations.
–Amy Hereford, csj (Carondelet, St. Louis)