By Nicole Connelly, Dubuque Presentation intern
The Sisters of the Presentation are committed to learning and evolving, and this summer they have been doing just that. At the motherhouse, the sisters kept busy with the “Abundant Living Series,” a collaborative program offered by the offices of pastoral care, house coordination, and wellness. This series included various outings, speakers, gatherings and experiences in order to help the sisters live abundantly and continue to evolve. The name for this series comes from John 10:10 in which Jesus says, “I have come so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” Surely these various opportunities were not exactly the abundant life in and of themselves, but they were invitations to experience a little more truth, goodness and beauty together which is part of the abundance Jesus highlights.
One of the outings for the Abundant Living Series included a trip to the mosque for the Friday afternoon Islamic prayer ritual. Several sisters attended this educational outing and received informative books on the basics of the Muslim faith to celebrate unity with those who share in our Abraham roots. Some sisters visited the E.B. Lyons Nature Center and the Dubuque Arboretum and Botanical Gardens to appreciate the beauty of creation right here in Dubuque. Some sisters also prayed Lauds with the monks at New Melleray Abbey and received a tour of Trappist Caskets.
The speakers included an informal presentation by Dale Keuter, a local Cedar Rapids author, who noted the importance of recording faith and family stories. Some sisters were inspired while others were re-energized to keep sharing their own stories of community and family. Another gathering featured the charism video in which several Presentation Sisters from various congregations shared their own experience of the lived charism. This video was followed by reflection and discussion among the sisters in which they shared their own experiences of charism.
In the month of July, the Abundant Living Series included outings to Sinsinawa Mound, the Dominican Motherhouse right across the river in Wisconsin, as well as the Key West cemetery where Dubuque Presentation Sisters are buried. The sisters enjoyed sharing stories of those who had gone before them, keeping the flame of love alive in their hearts. Other activities included presentations – one by Dubuque Presentation Sister Irma Ries who spoke about racial and social injustices she learned about while traveling in the Southeast and another by Ali Jaeger who worked with Dubuque Presentation Sisters in Bolivia this summer. In August, the sisters experienced radical hospitality when some went to visit the home and parish of Sister Carla Popes who minsters in and around Strawberry Point, Iowa. They have also watched TED talks, enjoyed ferry and trolley rides, golfing and attended a prayer service on Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. Surely this summer has been one of abundance.
In addition to the Abundant Living Series, the sisters at and beyond Mount Loretto have been evolving with technology this summer. Each week several sisters sign up for technology lessons to practice anything from checking their inbox to downloading puzzles onto their iPads or even Skyping their siblings from across the country, and these are just a few examples.
Many sisters use various forms of technology as they continue to work for justice and peace, reverence relationships and offer God’s presence to the world. As sisters work for justice and peace, many stay connected through emails, Basecamp and Zoom. These tools are ways the sisters and associates share information and communicate with the whole community. Basecamp is a way the sisters and associates share timely information and resources, and Zoom is a video conference feature used for various meetings when separated by distance. In fact, one sister was able to use Zoom to be present virtually at her sister’s funeral.
Lastly, sisters continue to be a presence and light in the world, even online, as several have been highlighted in our Sister Spotlights. These are short videos debuting sisters as they offer insight on a wide range of topics. These videos are featured on the Presentation website, Facebook, Twitter and Youtube and you can enjoy them here: http://bit.ly/sisterspotlights.
Technology has been an important tool for the sisters to use as they continue to expand their understanding of what it means to offer radical hospitality to the world. The sisters continue to learn and grow as they live in to the 21st century.
Nicole Connelly has been the wellness intern at the Sisters of the Presentation since January 2017. This fall, she will be a senior at Loras College in Dubuque studying theology and politics, with minors in Catholic studies and peace and justice.