• 11/01/2020 10:00 AM | Fred Goddard (Administrator)

    Winter Sunset in Pennsylvania

    The sun is dawning slowly these days over the Midwest farm fields. It is its usual bright red and today is particularly striking as it contrasts with the white fields… empty now of their grains and covered with an early snowfall. Trees near the house here are heavily laden with the snow. This is much too early for such winter events. Just yesterday the harvesting was being done with great machinery and beautiful fall colors of the orange, red and yellow trees. The empty fields glowed with the golden remnants of the crops. 

    These quiet times, early in the day, come before the news reports open up to declare the most recent and most striking news of the day… political reports… covid updates… natural disasters and… the world news… 

    These days I, like so many of you, am looking at all of this from a situation of sheltering in place; social distancing and all that goes with staying healthy and keeping others safe. 

    The quiet beginning and time for reflection help me to face all of this with a feeling of calmness and purpose. 

    Staying connected to others is so important to everyone during this time. Our Franciscan congregational leaders have helped sisters and associates who are not located in or near the motherhouse to carry out bi-weekly zoom conversations. The topics of these conversations at this time are usually around racism, white supremacy, and white fragility; all part of our current congregational study. 

    Though these discussion topics can be heavy in nature, they are important for our time in history. We are all very aware of the recent peaceful demonstrations in so many cities during this past summer. Demonstrators have been very successful in getting the attention of the nation for the issue of racism as it exists in so much of our society, its institutions, and government.

    It is indeed time that we all learn to have these discussions in a manner that helps us to look deep into ourselves in order to confront and change the deep-seated attitudes and practices of racism.

    God is in these moments of our time. Let us all work with this awareness to change what needs to be changed.  Peace to you all.

    Upcoming NACAR Webinar

    Honoring Our Transitions: Tools for Managing, Celebrating and Planting Seeds of Hope

    Wednesday, November 18, 2020 1:00 PM, EST
    One hour in length

    US$25.00 for NACAR Members
    US$35.00 for non-members

    Only Online payments are accepted - NO Checks

    Register Here

    NACAR Associate Leadership Retreat

    All NACAR members are encouraged to complete the Poll concerning the Associate Leadership Retreat scheduled for May 2021.

    Member Services Committee will soon make a decision about this retreat and your responses will help with that decision.

    Photo: Andrew CrouthamelCC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

  • 10/01/2020 10:00 AM | Fred Goddard (Administrator)

    Nativity Scene Silhouette I was driving last week and my music “shuffle” produced song after song from the Christmas season. “NOT Christmas!” I said aloud, then recalled the words from a prayer to the Blessed Mother that my Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth community began praying in 1858. In part:

    … Grant me the vision to see
    that the Incarnation is going on in the world today.
    Help me to share the Incarnation
    by cooperating with Jesus and with you
    to prepare the world
    to be His new creation …

    The Incarnation is occurring, with or without us.

    We cooperate in it (and are reborn) -

    If we orient ourselves in the direction of hope…
    If we remember the wise elders whose stories affirm that disturbance begets new life…
    If we call out to God, who never abandons us…
    If we remember that we are not alone, that we have the comfort of generous, encouraging companions in this ministry of Associate leadership.

    NACAR is an essential part of my confidence and effectiveness as an Associate leader, offering educational opportunities and connecting me to companions and wisdom figures who educate and encourage me. The Member Services Committee has lined up a variety of Creative Conversations and webinars topics we believe will be timely and helpful this fall and next spring. Don’t forget to contact us with your ideas!

  • 09/01/2020 10:00 AM | Fred Goddard (Administrator)

    Border Fence along highwayIn his August 12 General Audience address, Pope Francis said, “The pandemic has highlighted how vulnerable and interconnected we all are. If we do not take care of each other, starting with the least—those who are most affected, including creation—we cannot heal the world.” Everything and everyone is connected as God’s creation.

    This year’s LCWR assembly focused on the topic of “God’s Infinite Vision: Our Journey to the Borders and Beyond.” The participants explored the impact of COVID-19 and new understandings of racism on the mission and lives of Catholic sisters. When I reflect on this theme, I wonder what it means for Associates, Affiliates, Companions, Co-members of religious congregations … what is God’s Infinite Vision for our way of life? Do we see borders, or do we look beyond to see how connected we are to one another?

    In her presidential address, Sr. Jayne Helmlinger, CSJ, stated, “It is essential for us to embrace this movement of transnational, transcharism, and transcultural religious life if we are to flourish in the years ahead.” She continued, “It is a disservice to religious life itself if we focus solely on our home congregations as if we are islands unto ourselves.”

    I wonder, are our associate communities “islands unto themselves?” Do we see ourselves in other expressions of charism? Do we extend ourselves beyond our home congregation? Do we see ourselves in the other? Do we recognize a common call to compassionate living as encompassing more than one culture, charism, nation, or religion?

    Involvement with organizations like NACAR and regional groups such as BACAR, CARMA, MKS, and OPAL helps to broaden perspectives, to see beyond borders, and to rejoice in the many ways we are more alike than different.

    As we begin this 2020 Season of Creation, let us remember that we are all interconnected. The needs of the world are urgent, so let’s open the borders of our hearts and our communities and go forth together for the sake of the whole. As Sr. Jayne noted, “With God, there are no borders in loving one another.” Happy Season of Creation!

  • 08/01/2020 10:00 AM | Fred Goddard (Administrator)

    Sunset with quote from Philippians 4:6 – 7In these times of great uncertainty, I am noticing myself getting tangled in thoughts of worry and anxiety. When will life be “normal” again? Will our country move past this time of division and discord? What will happen with the school year and the safety of students, teachers, and staff? How will we continue to see grandparents and family once in-person school begins?… etc.

    I have been turning to Paul’s letter to the Philippians and his reflection on how to face times of uncertainty.

    “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

    Philippians 4:6-7

    Paul encourages the Philippians to rejoice in the Lord no matter what difficulties they face. He advises the Philippians and us to turn to prayer, again and again, and God’s peace will fill our hearts and minds. Our first reaction during this time is to worry, however, Paul guides us to turn to prayer instead.

    Paul also tells the Philippians to rejoice in the Lord no matter the obstacles they face. When thoughts of worry and anxiety swirl, I strive to focus on the many blessings in my life and say prayers of thanksgiving for them. I also turn to this quote from the book of James about when troubles come our way.

    “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”

    James 1:2-4

    At this time of great uncertainty, we have many opportunities for our faith to be tested and for our faith and endurance to grow. May we all use this challenging time to grow in our prayer life, faith, and gratitude.

  • 07/01/2020 10:00 AM | Fred Goddard (Administrator)

    Silhouette of Adam and EveWell, where are we? For any person on this earth, and for any person of faith, where are we?

    In the struggle, stress, and strife that is this global pandemic, and for Americans with a national reckoning for systemic and personal structures of sin and oppression, where are we?

    We’re not in the Acts of the Apostles, we are not yet of one accord; we have not yet risen from the death that has been wrought historically or currently. Many are putting out words of support, words of solidarity, but it takes time to see if those words will be made flesh in our actions. Perhaps we are further back at the time of the Samson, where, so enraged we wish to lash out disproportionately at the Philistines; perhaps we’re in the land of the Psalms which cry out in lamentation.

    I propose we are in a time of naming. We are naming injustices and sins both systemic and individual. We are naming what atonement and equality look like. As such, if we’re looking for a Biblical guide, I think we’re at the very beginning, at the genesis of our future.

    Like Adam naming the creepy crawling things of God, we are naming our anxiety and stressors; like Adam naming the beasts of the land, we are naming our actions, biases, and threats to fraternity and love.

    I propose we are at a beginning. But unlike Adam I trust when mistakes are made, when the eventual tensions and disagreements must be faced, we won’t resort to blaming, to turning away from our responsibility and covenants as he did to his own – Eve. In this naming, in this beginning, let’s not make the same mistakes, let’s choose trust in God over postures of fear.

    In our June Board Meeting, NACAR spent our time together naming the things around us. Certainly, present realities place us, as an organization, at the beginning of something new and different. In the meeting, we named the line items in our budget, named the programs and services we provided, and named the ways in which we can provide a budget and programs in this time of pandemic, unrest, and economic uncertainty.

    We will, like Adam, continue to be stewards of what we have been gifted by God; we will name the good and the bad. We depend on you, NACAR community and individual members, to ensure that collectively we can face the future and the complications it brings with love and trust, to not make the mistake of Adam, to not dodge and deflect. Let’s give it a go. Let’s view this time as a beginning and embrace it.


  • 06/01/2020 10:00 AM | Fred Goddard (Administrator)

    Sun flaresNACAR enters June with the fire of Pentecost and the passion of the Sacred Heart, even as so many of us wait in our Upper Rooms for the time when we can reemerge safely and reunite with one another and all our beloveds. 

    How blessed are we to have the spirit and spirituality of our various congregations to sustain us, as well as their indomitable legacy of heroic service in times of the world’s greatest need.  

    As so many of our wisdom figures go home to God during this pandemic, how challenged are we to live on in their love by being what they were—single-hearted women and men of the Gospel.

    In this time of finding our way into an unknown future, NACAR has committed itself to continue to support associate leaders.   

    We will continue offering Creative Conversations beginning in the fall and welcome your input on topics of relevance. Our latest chapter on Prayer in our Leadership Manual is in its third printing.  

    As a Board we have been in earnest conversation with the Religious Formation Conference, the Leadership Collaborative and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, seeking to discern each next right step in fostering the dream God has for the flourishing of associate life.  

    Your continued commitment to membership is your essential part to helping all this happen.  We deeply appreciate your trust and support.

    May the Holy Fire that burned in the hearts of our founders burn within us and light our path. May we do what is ours, in our own time and place with the same passion and love!

    Image: https://www.needpix.com/photo/1606718/flame-light-sun-pentecost-dove-holy-spirit-christianity-christian-church

  • 05/01/2020 10:00 AM | Fred Goddard (Administrator)

    Fisherfolk in small boat casting netIn James Martin’s, Jesus: A Pilgrimage, he reflects upon Jesus stepping into Simon’s boat and asking him to “put out a little way” so Jesus can better address the crowds that are pressing the shoreline to hear him. Simon was wrapping up a long night of unsuccessful fishing and must have been tired and frustrated.  But he obliges, and after Jesus finishes, He tells Simon to ‘put out into the deep’ to lower his nets. What? The preacher knows better than the professional angler? Peter was fortunately humble enough to honor the request. And … cue up “miracle music” … the fishing nets fill to the point of breaking!

    There is something to be said for giving it a second look even though you think you know the waters well, for letting circumstances open you to new possibilities.

    In the April issue of The Associate, Jeanne Connolly described the portion of our recent Board meeting that included representatives from the National Religious Vocations Conference (NRVC), Religious Formation Conference (RFC), and the Leadership Collaborative, whom she welcomed by saying: “… everything is open for conversation with the understanding that we firmly believe that God is serious about the future of the associate way of life and because we … serve associate leaders and prospective leaders …. we want to further this form of Gospel life, not to the exclusion of other forms, but in relationship with and in collaboration with others.”

    We’ll do precisely that—serve our associate leaders, all hands on deck for the next year with no diminishment in NACAR service. So when you receive your membership renewal notice this month, be assured that your investment secures all upon which you rely—information, connection, and inspiration.

    We appreciate you who have affirmed and creatively responded to our honest assessments and requests for committee members and financial assistance. We NACAR Board members continue to cast our nets seeking collaborative possibilities to ensure that NACAR continues to serve and promote associate life in the years ahead. As Jeanne indicated in her December 5, 2019 letter, we pledge to share the results of our futuring work with you by March 2021.

    Now is not the time to hold back a single spark of an idea as we navigate these deep and compelling waters together. We rely upon each of you to share what you see from bow and stern, port and starboard, to discover that to which God now invites us.

  • 04/09/2020 10:00 AM | Fred Goddard (Administrator)

    Jeanne ConnollyIn our continued effort to be transparent and accountable, here is a summary of our spring in-person Board of Directors meeting held March 25 to 26, at the Felician Sisters Convent in Chicago, IL. In addition to receiving and accepting routine reports, the Board:

    • Changed registered agent and legal address in preparation for filing annual nonprofit report for the State of Illinois. There is NO change in our membership office address.
    • Created a timeline for rolling out a refreshed logo. You will begin seeing the new logo later this summer and into the fall.
    • Authorized a two-year agreement for a new membership database. More information will be coming out over the next several weeks.

    (NOTE: The need for a logo redesign and new database came to light through the Communication Audit and Fund Development Assessment received by the Board in the fall of 2018. The logo refresh and the new database are paid for with funds from The Father’s Table grant.)

    • Reviewed the Marketing and Exhibit plan for NACAR in fiscal year 2019-20. NACAR will continue to have a presence at LCWR. In 2019, NACAR will also have a presence at the Religious Formation Conference Congress in Louisville and participate in the Catholics on Call Partnership workshop in Chicago.
    • Approved an increase in the Community membership dues. This is the first dues increase in 15 years. Additional information will go out to Community members by mid-April.
    • Reviewed applications for Board membership and tabled the decision as final details on future planning and Board needs are determined.
    • Reviewed and approved a plan to engage Regional Groups of Associates and other partners and potential partners in co-creating a vibrant path for the future of NACAR.

    As always, we are grateful for your continued support and encouragement. Please keep your eye out for information on some of these actions, as well as our continued membership services.

  • 04/01/2020 10:00 AM | Fred Goddard (Administrator)

    DaffodilsSpring is one of my favorite times of the year. Where I live, it is sometimes fleeting and easily missed. Whether we take the time to notice it or not, it still comes faithfully … despite late-season snow and “unseasonable” temperatures. The trees, grass, and flowers awaken from their winter slumber. Spring is never canceled—it may arrive differently from year to year or from one geographical location to another, but nature awakens to the new.

    It seems to me that the global pandemic related to the novel coronavirus-COVID-19 provides each of us with the opportunity to awaken to the new. Our lives are necessarily very different from what they were just a few weeks ago. Business and life are far from “normal.” We have seen and experienced the oneness as a global community in ways many of us could not have imagined. We have been given a new wake up call to, as Sr. Ilia Delio writes, “think new,” because the power of God is yearning to do new things, to create more wholeness of life, to transform earth into the fullness of Christ, so that “they may all be one” (Jn 17:21).*

    In these days of “physical distancing,” we are being invited to “think new” about how we learn, connect, share gifts and talents, and celebrate liturgy. As a human race, we can live through this time with love, gratitude, hope, and grace or fall into dystopian despair. I feel truly blessed to be surrounded (virtually) by many loving and compassionate groups. It is exciting to explore possibilities and to “think new” about services and ministries. NACAR strives to be one of those organizations providing support and sending positive energy into the world. We encourage you to share the new ways that you are learning to be community in this current reality. How might we re-imagine the Associate-Religious relationship in this new time … together for the sake of the world? May this spring and Easter season be a season of awakening and an invitation to “think new.”

    *Delio, Ilia. Making All Things New: Catholicity, Cosmology, Consciousness (Catholicity in an Evolving Universe Series). Orbis Books. Kindle Edition.
  • 03/01/2020 10:00 AM | Fred Goddard (Administrator)

    Cross and BibleLast week, Catholics marked the beginning of their Lenten journey by receiving ashes. In doing so, we united ourselves to Jesus, choosing to travel this Lent through the darkness of the inner desert so that we can rise with Christ into the light; the light of life that is spirit-filled, connected, and purposeful.

    Our companions on this journey will include scripture, prayer, and acts of penance. Some people will choose fasting and will experience how important it is to develop a hunger and thirst for God and for God’s Word. Others will deprive themselves and in a gesture of solidarity, will share with the poor. Still, others will open their hearts to God through new spiritual practices or acts of mercy.

    Those of us who are associates and religious will be with one another, in spirit and in person, offering the fruitfulness of our personal journeys, finding ways to respond more deeply to our desire to live Jesus’ mission within the charisms of our congregations.

    Lent is about moving from darkness into light; about refocusing our intention and discovering what God wants of us. It is a time for us to step away from our usual activities, to examine our lives more closely and to ask:

    • What do I truly “need,” and of what should I let go, so that I can live more fully as a person of faith, working always to be connected to God, to others, and to all of creation?
    • How is God’s will brought to light through my life?

    This Lent, the members of the Board ask for your prayerful support as we step away from our usual lives and come together to pray and reflect. We will be asking our Lenten questions as we consider what is truly “needed" so that NACAR can continue to support the associate movement, working always to be connected to God, to one another, and to all of creation. We will be seeking to better understand how NACAR can bring to light God’s will for associate life at this time and into the future.

    Our Lenten journey as individuals and as Board members will be a time of prayer and repentance; a time to acknowledge our weakness, to remember and reflect upon the steadfast love of God, giving thanks for God at work in our lives. It is a time to ask for the grace to become more patient, more humble and more open to direction from God.

    This Lent may our hearts be enlarged and strengthened, so that we may be made ready to welcome and rejoice in the great joy of Easter.

    Artwork from: http://cruzblanca.org/hermanoleon

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