26th Mar 2021

The New that is Next

Sarah Rudolph, IBVM. Canadian Region.

In October 2020, our Institute leaders asked us to pray and reflect on the Union process by meditating on the scripture story of Bartimaeus. We were asked to reflect on the question, “In the context of this journey towards the final chapter in the re-union of Mary Ward’s institute, what do I want Jesus to do for me?”

This question has resounded in my heart and mind over these past several months, and slowly, I have heard a response rise within me. As we enter the final chapter in the re-union process of the Institute, I want Jesus to fill my heart with joy and to open my mind to the encounter of the ‘new’: new people and new cultures, new ways of living Mary Ward’s charism and mission, new opportunities for ministry.

Embedded in this ‘new’ is really a following of what is ‘next.’ I believe that this process of Union is being guided by the Spirit, so, in fact, what might appear as ‘new’ to me is really what is ‘next’ according to the path made by the Spirit.

I can see and feel the Spirit at work in all of the ways our branches have already been coming together. As a younger Sister in a region where I have few peers, I have experienced the Spirit leading me to connect with younger Sisters across the branches of the Institute.

One blessing of connection was my experience of the 2019 Mary Ward Summer School. It was a concrete reminder that we are already ‘one’. As I joined IBVM and CJ Sisters from diverse parts of the world, I found myself ‘one’ and at home with each person from the first day of our program. Joined even more intimately through bonds of affection and admiration for our founder, Mary Ward, together we discovered the commonalities of value and virtue that were laid in the foundations of the Institute. Through our prayer and worship together, I experienced myself as part of the Body of Christ as it exists in our Institute.

In 2019, a group of CJ and IBVM sisters met at the Bar Convent for the ‘Mary Ward Summer School’. It was a chance to come together and learn about Mary Ward’s life and writings, so that they could go back and inspire their provinces.

The blessing of connection has extended this past year, despite the challenges of the global pandemic. A small group of younger CJ and IBVM Sisters in formation, as well as a couple of sisters who are finally professed, along with our formators, have been gathering online each month to learn and talk about leadership. While the content from Dr. Bréné Brown’s book Dare to Lead has been informative, the most enriching part of our gatherings, for me, have been the discussions in small groups. Those of us in formation have been able to share personal experiences of success, challenge, and continued growth as we journey in the Institute. We recognize in each other the desire to follow after Jesus in the footsteps of Mary Ward and to give our lives fully to the Institute. These bonds of companionship in formation are developing into friendships which will help to sustain us as we grow in our vocations.

It is clear to me that this process of Union is inspired by our joy of being ‘one’, of living together our charism, spirituality, and mission. The joy of oneness through the Spirit will necessarily lead us to the ‘new’ as we encounter each other and nurture the bonds of affection. For my part in this process, I remain grounded in my desire for Jesus to fill my heart with joy and to open my mind to the ‘new’ that is ‘next’.

Registered Address

IBVM General House. Via Massaua, 3, 00162 Rome, Italy || CJ General House. Via Nomentana, 250, 00162 Rome, Italy