Women of Zeal – the future!

Finding different seats across the room, we began the morning with a reflection and prayer from the Hong Kong Lasallian women in our group. They shared that there is a growing number of girls attending schools in their country and more and more female staff educating the children.

After a recap of thoughts from our days together, we reviewed the listed outcome topics that had been outlined during our symposium.

Each table group was invited to reflect on this list and add to or update input so that we could formulate specific resolutions.  It was decided that outcomes be formally prepared and submitted to Brother Superior and the General Council for endorsement so we would first seek a “YES” from all women attending regarding these outcomes. Trish Carroll will conclude her role as Symposium Lead Organizer by preparing a formal report for the General Council.

***Please Note:  I’ve taken notes so I might offer a snapshot of outcomes the group discussed and said “YES” to include.  The formal report will be more comprehensive and have final information to be discussed and considered.

SYMPOSIUM OUTCOME NOTES

  • Truly representative International Women’s ‘Council’ with a Mission Statement and clear purpose statements by the end of 2017; an appointment of person(s) as short-term bridge to effectively get this started in a timely manner and consider potential use of secondment to utilize existing skills/experience.
  • Engagement with district/regional groups that work with existing structures.
  • Ensure inclusivity and collective Lasallian voice, gender parity in leadership and representation with concrete policy. Be culturally sensitive.
  • Effectively communicate using both virtual and traditional means to inform, engage, and include ALL Lasallians.
  • Global, regional and district mentoring program using a variety of structures (technology/face-to-face) tailored to meet the individual needs.
  • Engage the voice of students/clients/Young Lasallians immediately in Mission planning, as well as in the promotion of Lasallian vocation.
  • Create a database and directory for global connections.
  • We acknowledge the need to remain faithful to the Mission by bringing to life the commitments contained without our Lasallian documents.
  • Personal commitment of all delegates to share this experience, knowledge, and outcomes with their local Lasallian communities upon return.

At the close of this most important work – we stood together and declared, “We Are Here!”

Our days together concluded with a beautiful service in which each participant was blessed to receive a gift of a hand painted river rock with meaningful symbols from New Zealand. In the quiet moments while we walked together…our tears fell, tears of joy because we were each moved by the everlasting relationships we all formed, the power of our voices together in song and sharing and the knowledge that we have made a difference.

Certificates were distributed and we all went forth…a new beginning!

Our Lasallian sisters from Pakistan….England, Australia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, North America, Hong Kong, South Africa…the globe!

We are touched by a zeal no one could fully capture in words, we smiled and laughed, voiced our passion and desire to do good in our world, to be the good we wish to see. I shall never be the same!

And as I left Aukland this afternoon, riding with new friends from ‘across the pond’ to see more of New Zealand, we talked about the many things that touched us…the many ways we grew and appropriately, the scenery along the way showed us the Hand of God reaching down as He did all those days together.

My thanks to the Christian Brothers of the Midwest District for this opportunity to be a part of this next chapter…for allowing me to share this story. Also, to my colleagues at Saint Mary’s Press for their support and help with ongoing work during my time away. It is so good to be together by association…live Jesus in our Hearts – forever!

Kia Ora!

PJ

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Women of Zeal – the present (part 2)

Our ongoing dialogue about the present…

“Fulfill your ministry with all the affection of your heart” – De La Salle

Our conversations this morning led us to reflect on love, empathy and compassion as powerful tools for making change.  If we are to leave a legacy for coming generations, we know we must carry forward the priorities which have emerged from our time together.  56% of today’s Lasallians are female partners. That percentage will continue to increase in the coming years and calls us to stay focused on our mission. Our voices must not only be included in the ongoing dialogue, but heard as a loud and clear message of what it means to truly be together by association.

Circular 461 notes the contribution of Lasallian women in the Mission and specifically speaks to our participation as ‘essential’. And, Circular 470 encourages the promotion of new leadership among Brothers and Lasallians who can boldly and creatively respond to the Church of the 21st century; ‘We cannot sit idly and remain on the sideline. There is an urgent need to find new roadmaps that encourage creativity and innovation in the pursuit of the common good.’

There was a powerful “YES” in this room from a body of women representing various corners of the globe. Yes, we must be bold! Yes, we must be creative! Yes, we must accept the challenge of co-responsibility! Yes, we must reshape leadership frameworks! Yes, we must have an obligation to action! Yes, we must create pathways for young women – the future of the Mission depends on it!  In the words of Malala Yousafzai, “I raise up my voice – not so that I can shout, but so those without a voice can be heard.”

Excursion…

The afternoon also offered a bus trip to the Aukland Museum. We had an opportunity to walk, discover more about New Zealand’s culture, take a group photo and enjoy our lunch.

 

Upon return, we were offered an ‘open mic’ time to share reflections about our learnings so far and hopes for the future.  Words expressed overflowed with gratitude, understanding, hope and vision.

The evening meal was accompanied by entertainment from a Sweet Adeline quartet and during dessert, we were treated to a variety of dances from the Pacific region.  There were girls and women of all ages included in the dances and they were clothed in their traditional dress from each region.

At the end of the performance, our Brothers were invited to the center of the room to dance as well.

 

 

We’re certain that the reason the internet connection went down was because of all the ‘views’ from the postings of those wiggles!

A family that plays together – stays together!  It was a wonderful close to our day.

PJ

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Women of Zeal – Lasallian Women – the present

Our morning opened with a prayer reflection and presentation by the contingent from Papua New Guinea.  The women came together in their traditional dress, sang, prayed and honored the bilum which is a handmade string bag used for carrying firewood, vegetables and even babies in their country.

Learning about their culture and their people is just one of many memories that will stay with all of us from this symposium gathering.

Following the prayer, two of the women in our group presented me with my own bilum as a gift, which I will forever cherish… carrying this experience and the strength of their stories home with me!

I am already much richer because I know them. In sharing this experience it is my hope you carry a new idea to others to spread the charism of De La Salle.

Morning Session:

Today’s session was moderated by Trish Carroll (the symposium organizer and facilitator). We focused on the place and identity of women today in the world and in the Lasallian mission.  We discussed how we can be a collective voice for Lasallian women and what that might look like for our future.

Drawing from the main topics that surfaced from yesterdays work, the buzz in the room was palpable as we raised our collective voice to outline ideas for change.  This voice must be heard and will help the Lasallian mission to grow and flourish in years to come.

Tracy Adams and Amanda Proulx gave the keynote address and shared sobering statistics about the women of the world.  Consider this:

  • Women do 66% of the world’s work, yet earn 10% of its income (this does not include unpaid work such as child care, elder care and housework).
  • 35% of the world’s women have experienced physical/sexual abuse.
  • Two thirds of the world’s illiterate are women.
  • Two thirds of the world’s most poor are women.
  • A woman dies every 90 seconds through childbirth or pregnancy complications.
  • Each year, 15 million under-aged girls are forcibly married.
  • Each year, thousands of girls are murdered in ‘honor killings’.
  • Internationally, 24% of business leaders are women.
  • There are 195 recognized countries and currently there are only 10 women serving as Heads of State.

Together, we reacted to these points and came face to face with the realities that affect us as women in the world. Our Lasallian mission draws us to focus on education and care for the vulnerable. Our energy is renewed knowing that our work makes a significant difference in the lives of children all over the world. For example:

  1. A child born to a mother who can read is 50% more likely to survive past the age of five, to be immunized, and to attend school.
  2. Wages, agricultural income, and productivity – all critical for reducing poverty, are higher where women who are involved in agriculture receive a better education.
  3. Each additional year of schooling beyond primary offers greater payoffs for improved opportunities, options and outcomes.

These are just a few of the ways education impacts the lives of our children. Education is power – it is vital, it is a part of who we are as Lasallians. We see this as MISSION CRITICAL.

More to come…

PJ

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Women of Zeal – The Ongoing Story (Part 2)

“How long has Jesus been knocking at the door of your heart, waiting to enter?” – De La Salle

Our afternoon on this first day together, included four workshops facilitated by group leaders from different places and ministries. These sessions centered around key questions:

  1. What are the current realities and experiences of Lasallian women?
  2. How do we create opportunities to give voice to Lasallian women?
  3. How do we foster global relationships?
  4. Imagine the Institute in 20 years’ time – what will the Lasallian women’s vocation look like?

All voices were heard and we shared the ways in which we empower one another in different parts of the world and grapple with some of the same questions no matter where we go. Like the women we talked about in our morning session – we must be open to the spirit and listen to the call to be the change makers where we live, bringing light to the darkness and calm where there is chaos.

In each of our sessions, we recorded thoughts and suggestions for change. The entire group then had the opportunity to prioritize their four top challenges for change.

There is power in listening because you honor the needs of others by truly hearing what they need.  We listen to learn, to erase assumptions, to nurture the other, to uphold human dignity, to bring peace, to connect and to grow. We shall build relationships globally to empower all communities of the world to live justly, act tenderly and walk humbly in our shared mission.

In these moments throughout the day we shared an energy and a closeness so we no longer felt like manuhiri (visitors) but whanau (an extended family)!  We shared a beautiful meal of Salmon and vegetables, conversation and sweets before taking some walk about time and turning in.

Kia ora (blessings of the day)!

PJ

 

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Women of Zeal – The Ongoing Story (Part 1)

It’s Monday, July 17th, Day One of our gathering following last evening’s opening welcome ceremony & greeting.  Today’s theme:

The Ongoing Story

Morning Notes…

Three of our De La Salle Brothers began with opening remarks and I was deeply moved by the reflection Br. Ed shared with us from the Brothers of the Lasallian Family of RELAN. Perhaps it touched me even more profoundly because he brought to us the words of a friend and brother, Br. Charlie Kitson – who went to the Lord in the recent past. Together, we prayed Br. Charlie’s favorite morning prayer and then some of the verses of his last poem, “Surrender” were read as well.  The feelings in even the first lines…so perfect for our group to hear the images in his heart – what was on his mind;

As I pray to pray, I hear heaven’s laughter…a loving chuckle. A Mother’s sigh – glimpsing her toddler’s first solo flight at tying a shoelace…”

“My long buried burdens burst their tombs ascending to a God who declared me forgiven oh so long ago…”

Following our prayer with one another, Trish Carroll and Tina Bonacci opened our morning with a keynote address: “The change makers; women of our Lasallian story”.  How beautiful to ponder the strengths and vulnerabilities of women we have come to know – but understood more deeply as we shared together. We learned what they had in common, we talked about what they felt, and considered questions they might have asked. We wondered how we might emulate them and how we remember them for future generations.

Mary – the Mother of God, who lacked formal education, was from a poor family and considered of low social status… said ‘yes’ and brought salvation to the world. She did not need power or riches or status to be a change agent. She let go of the worries about what others would think or say and simply trusted, because she had faith.

Madeleine Lamy – a woman of De La Salle’s time, who took in the girls and women who had been stricken with poverty and caught in prostitution and desperate circumstances in order to survive – she did all she could for them but had the courage to ask Fr. John Eudes – “What are you doing for these poor women?” She asked a question in a time when women owned nothing, had no legal rights, were to be obedient to their fathers and husbands and praised for their docility. She had the courage to ask – and he had the humility to listen. That exchange changed the course of their lives… and places to care for and educate girls and women were founded.

Sr. Louise – met De La Salle in Parmeine when he was struggling with his mission and had been focused on all the things going wrong. Louise listened and in her wisdom and compassion reminded De La Salle of what he was truly called to do.  She helped him to find the strength to hold onto his faith and continue to answer his call.  This was a simple sheepherder. She had no riches, no fortune, great faith and the wisdom to listen and invite another into conversation. A conversation that would profoundly change both of them.

Dorothy Day – who began the Catholic Worker movement along with Peter Maurin to provide for the basic needs of humanity…Houses of Hospitality that fed the poor, sheltered the lost and helped thousands of people. Dorothy worked tirelessly fighting against injustice. In her words, ‘We want to change the world by crying out unceasingly for the poor and vulnerable’. She credited Peter for this movement and he not only attended a Lasallian school, he later became a De La Salle Brother too.

Like these women, we are called…we need not be rich or have a certain status in our community or place of work. We can see others and help them see us; stay rooted in our faith and trust in our own strengths; begin the conversation – listen and touch others with what we know; and fight against injustice and stand up for the vulnerable among us. We too can be agents of change.

In the later part of the morning, we were paired randomly and invited to find a quiet spot and to journey together two-by-two on our own Emmaus Walk.  We took the time to reflect on our personal Lasallian stories – to share with one another and  awaken new understandings in ourselves while coming to know a new Lasallian sister in our family. I walked with Rhondy from Papua New Guinea and we now share a bond as Lasallian women and partners in this mission we believe in.

We look forward to four afternoon workshops.

Hei Kona mai (Goodbye for now…)

PJ

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Women of Zeal – “I am here…”

Sunday evening was our first official gathering of all participants of the Lasallian Global Women’s Symposium…and the opening ceremony called us forth in the tradition of the people here.  We were all welcomed with a traditional Maori Powhiri ceremony!  Two women chanted greetings in their native language back and forth across the foyer as we moved together to the gathering space. In the inner room where we were called together, young people from the LaSalle School, expressed their welcome with an unusual and powerful chant with shouts and tonal voices I cannot fully describe. As a part of the ceremony, I was invited with others to press noses – one to another – with the young people that had welcomed us.  In their culture, this is a sign of sharing our breath… breathing one another’s story and expressing gratitude for being a part of the journey.  It was a most moving experience.

We were then introduced to our facilitation team and shared a lovely evening meal of roast lamb, pumpkin and spinach lasagna, mixed greens and chocolate layer cakes. We all joined in conversation and getting to know one another for the first time – erasing borders and finding so much in common. Br. David Hawke welcomed us as well and our dinner speaker, Superior General Br. Bob Schieler gave the opening address. His expressed hope is to listen and learn from each of us…and take back thoughts and ideas to keep the Lasallian mission alive and growing.

Following his remarks, we had an opening ritual calling of the roll, in which each woman in attendance was called by name and answered “I am here!” in their own native language.

Yes, I am here – each of us is here… to learn, to share, to carry our stories around the world and as Br. Bob encouraged…our work shall lay seed to the promise that we are Lasallian and our mission will live on and continue to grow…showing others daily that Jesus does live in our hearts… forever!

Until tomorrow…

PJ

 

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Women of Zeal…we’ve landed!

I arrived in Auckland just hours ago and already met three new friends who are joining in this wonder-filled global symposium. Realizing our days are different when you cross the international dateline, we met in the lobby of our hotel, shared a few stories about flights and asked about Sunday services since it is now Sunday, July 16th.

Together, we walked three and a half blocks to the beautiful Cathedral of St. Patrick and St. Joseph to join the New Zealand parish for their 11:00 a.m. Mass.

We’ll all take a bit of a rest before registration begins and then share an opening ceremony at about 6:00 p.m.  I’m already filled with hope about all we’ll learn together!  So – keep watch, I’ll keep you posted about this incredible symposium here and on the page link, Women of Zeal! You can find this link listed under the Categories column to the right of the main page screen for News and Events if you want to follow this ongoing experience daily.

PJ

**Pictured above are Anna (Papua New Guinea), myself, Sally (England) and Bestina Papua New Guinea).

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Women of Zeal…on my way!

A very special thank you to all my friends and family for your prayers and blessings for my upcoming journey!

Following three flight legs on my trip, and a little over 32 hours of combined flight time and airport wait time…the next time you hear from me, I’ll be at the symposium in Aukland, New Zealand with Lasallian women from all over the globe.

Ka kite ano (“until I see you again” – in Maori, the second language of New Zealand).

PJ

 

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Women of Zeal…packing and pondering

    I tucked things into a suitcase this weekend thinking about the fact that next weekend, I’ll be pulling things out of the same suitcase in Aukland, New Zealand.  I look forward to meeting other women from around the world to share ideas and new ways of spreading our Lasallian charism!

The email communications from the symposium planning team have been coming through this past week, helping us all prepare for the agenda and details regarding our stay.  Here’s a sneak peek at what we’ll be talking about:

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Women of Zeal!

In just three short weeks, I’ll be boarding my flight to attend the Lasallian Global Women’s Symposium 2017 on behalf of the Midwest District. This gathering is July 16-19, 2017 in Aukland, New Zealand. In a recent letter from Superior General Robert Schieler, FSC – we were encouraged to reflect on where we find community, what gives the deepest meaning in our lives, what causes and concerns move us to action, and where we find God in daily moments. This gathering gives each of us an opportunity to “come and tell” things we learn, share and bring back to our various communities.

This blog will give you a constant peek into our days together; a place where you can come and hear me tell about events, conversations, new ideas and paths in the journey we’ll be sharing together as Lasallian women!  Together, we’ll spread the true zeal of our charism and plant seeds of newness for future journeys and growth!

How appropriate that this event is being held in beautiful New ZEALand.  I look forward to sharing with all of you!

PJ Thompson,  Professor’s Choice – Saint Mary’s Press

“Joy comes to us in ordinary moments. We risk missing out when we get too busy chasing down the extraordinary.”             -Brene Brown

 

 

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