Prophetic Religious Life: If Not Now... When?

Congress 2011

Keynote Speakers: Barbara E. Reid, OP & Anthony Gittins, C.S.SP. CTU, Chicago

This theme was a unifying thread through each speaker of our 2011 RFC Congress.

Barbara Reid, OP spoke of Divine mystery gestating in Mary…that seemed beyond her human capabilities, but Mary knew God was with her…a reassuring presence amidst the questioning glances in her neighborhood. Barbara unfurled each woman’s prophetic dimension which grew out of their ordinary life circumstances into a challenge to the status quo.

Lynn Levo, CSJ launched her remarks with a question. “What in all of this is about you?” What imprisons you? What diminishes your freedom to love God, self, one another? She reminded us to pay attention to our gut reactions when we feel “ill at ease” because these are clues to addictive behavior.

Mary Pat Garvin, RSM recalled the story of Bartimaeus and Jesus’ question to him. “What is it you want me to do for you?” Bartimaeus had to name his desire and be clear about it. To name and claim our desires, interests, and curiosities raises consciousness of our unique call as social mystics who are deeply rooted in God and sent on a mission.

Paula Gonzalez, SC spoke about our need for a new quality of relating. The three vows urge us to discern the deep values of affectivity, possession, power and how living them leads us to Union with God.

Seán Sammons, FMS engaged the participants in framing religious life as a move from hierarchical to charismatic expression. Communal discernment calls for reclaiming the founding charism in the action of the Holy Spirit in our time. It calls for courage and personal and communal “change of heart”. The Spirit so active in our founding persons longs to live and breathe in you and me today.

Anthony Gittins, CSSp took my breath away… with his call to radical refounding, bold outreach, going beyond our comfort zone. He echoed Barbara’s insights to the prophet’s call, “the margin is the center of ministry.” Then he asked us. Shall we run? Stand still? Or twitch nervously?

Let us leave here entering the dance:
With women prophets of scripture
With our freedom from attachments
With naming our desires
With God as our partner
With the Holy Spirit on this journey—
(sing) “Dance, then wherever you may be.
I am the Lord of the Dance,” said he.
“I’ll lead you all wherever you may be,
I will lead you all in the Dance,” said he.

Lynn Casey, SCL