With thankful hearts, Presentation Sisters and associates gathered in person for the 2021 Community Days to share in the theme “Telling, Honoring, Embracing and Celebrating our Story.”
Associate Donna Ewy describes it best when she states, “After a long, painful, lonely year and a half in the world of COVID-19, what a wonderful gift it was to see each other again! My spirit is re-invigorated to continue my mission with a little extra dose of radical hospitality.”
Sue Brimmer, a Presentation associate, recounts the time together, “Our Community Days began and ended in such a beautiful way with sisters and associates all gathered in the chapel participating in music and prayer. The theme interwoven throughout our days together was to tell our stories so they would be honored, embraced and remembered to inspire and connect us. We planted seeds to represent our hopes and dreams, to watch them take root and to grow. We renewed our promise to live in radical hospitality in all relationships and to make room at the table for all. It was a wonderful experience of prayer, connecting, reflecting and sharing.”
Friday morning, the sisters and associates gathered separately. Led by Sister Carol Crepeau, CSJ, the associates began by praying together in small groups. Associates experienced a form of prayer called “sharing the state of the heart.” Those gathered shared one word to describe a time God asked them to “get up.” Sister Carol defined these getting up experiences as graphic moments of God’s real presence in our lives. After everyone had responded with their chosen word, each person in the small group shared why they chose that specific word. This allowed time to get to know fellow associates on a deeper level. Sister Carol explained the mission as a way of life rooted in the Gospel and radical hospitality as the core of our charism. She emphasized the associate identity statement, which reads:
Dubuque Presentation associates are women and men called to share in the life, spirituality and mission of the Dubuque Presentation Sisters. Grounded in prayer, we support and encourage one another as we seek to embody the Presentation charism of radical hospitality both individually and communally. In the spirit of Nano Nagle, we reach out with hospitality and compassion as we seek justice and respond to the needs of the world.
Sister Carol described the partnerships between sisters and associates as on a continuum, both doing the work, living out the charism and mission both separately and together.
Associates then brainstormed about the following questions: What is your hope now for the Presentation Associate Partnership and how can this hope be realized? Suggestions included service projects, prayer opportunities, more involvement with the sisters and increased communication.
Associate Karen St. John left the gathering energized, “I think that this was the best community gathering I have ever attended. The discussions were lively and full of new ideas. Planting the seeds shows how we can grow and make changes in our life. We need to leave our palace and go out and do what needs to be done for a better future for all people.”
Associate Rachel Evans shares, “Being able to hear how people coped, what they lost, what they gained and how they gave back over the past two years was a true testament to how radical hospitality can build a good story.”