By Molly McGettigan Arthur, Associate, San Francisco
The Associates gathering July 6-7, 2021 was revelatory and transformative for me. For the two days, I met in a small group with all Religious of the Sacred Heart (RSCJ) who I had not met before: Marina Hernandez, Helen O’Regan, Ann Taylor and Marie Louise “ML.”
The talk given by Carol Zinn, SSJ, executive director of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), held clarity and insights about being an Associate that opened my own identity as an Associate.
I have been an Associate for the last 20 years. I went to Schools of the Sacred Heart San Francisco (Broadway) for 12 years. My mother and
three generations of girls in my Irish Catholic family were educated in
Sacred Heart schools in California.
Over the past 20 years, I had discerned that my Association was a vocation, not just an association with the nuns or the Society. Sister Zinn’s strong statement that Associates have a vocation to the charism of the Society (to discover and reveal God’s love in the heart of the world) was a revelation for me. I feel it is true for me and it broke open my heart more. This experience clarified my identity as a related person to the Beloved Sacred Heart of Jesus. Understanding this vocation to the charism as a gift of grace, unearned, and as God’s call, I felt reassured and lightened of burdens that I had been carrying about my role as an Associate. I felt joyous, which my sisters in Sacred Heart told me is an essential aspect of a vocation.
I asked the RSCJ, women who have been vowed members for decades how to better understand , fell and know this charism Here is what I learned:
Be authentically yourself using the charism as a prism.
Do your own interior work, be open to revelation.
The charism informs my conscience.
Realize that fear comes up in resistance and discomfort about change, lowering of status, loss.
Love drives out fear.
In addition, these are questions that arise when we steep ourselves in the notion that the Society’s charism is foundational in our relationship between Associates and RSCJ:
How can we be be accountable for living the charism?
Who could be our accountability partners?
What helps our collaboration, reciprocity and mutuality?
What do we do to nourish and deepen our connections?
I was inspired to understand that we Associates are our own community, separate from the RSCJ, with our own vocation to the beautiful charism that the Spirit gifted to Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat. How exciting to now look to creating a stronger community with our fellow Associates. We will discern how that looks on our path together, empowering each other in inner transformation. Our gifts are to be given in service through the charism to our world- how does that look? I feel a new life in myself and eagerness to get to it, together!
Blessings to all who are discovering and bringing the love of the Sacred Heart to our world.