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From the Formation Corner February 2018

Maco Cassetta, CND for the Novitiate Community

Photo: Sisters Libby Osgood, Marie de Lovinfosse and Maco Cassetta

Inter-Novitiate Program

Dear Friends,

The Novitiate has been hopping since December with lots of activity, Visitation moments and intercultural experiences. We are truly in the “thick” of formation. We are feeling nourished by the many opportunities that validate the purpose of our existence in White Plains! It has been full and all good! While I will attempt to give you the highlights, know that this summary reflects the many journeys and some moments of encounter in support of one’s discernment of religious life with the CNDs. 

We have hosted at our place this month some of the intercommunity novitiate gatherings, which happen every Thursday. From the study of particular topics in religious life and church, to the learning of the vows, each Thursday has been dedicated to a particular subject. In addition, since the Fall, we have participated in the inter-formation program that happen once a month. We had workshops on Theology of the Eucharist, Family Systems and Addictions. These gatherings have been great. While the input has been informative and challenging, these opportunities have allowed the nurturance of relationships with other communities. We even had a “Sharing of Talents Night” where we laughed and enjoyed each other’s gifts.

In December, we made our way to Montreal. We visited the House of Prayer and participated in the life of the house with our French Sisters. We had an opportunity to hear Gilberte Bussière, CND speak about her experience in Cameroon when she was abducted. How humbling it was to hear her speak of her faith in God during the most difficult time of her life. We also had an opportunity to hear Lorraine Caza speak about the jubilee celebrations of the City of Montreal. Her historical knowledge of Montreal was just amazing! We were blessed with a visit from Marie de Lovinfosse who shared her dissertation with us on the Visitation moments of God in the Gospel of Luke. What a gift it was to hear of her research and experience.

In these last few weeks, we have been addressing the topic of the vows. This has given us the opportunity to begin to reflect on the Constitutions. In one of our inter-novitiate classes, on the vow of poverty, we were blessed with Mary Anne Foley’s presence, who conceptualized the vow for us within the framework of two lived economies of “having” and “being”.

Inter-Formation Program

We were immersed in our Marian roots with Marie Azzarello, CND where she ignited in us a deep love for Mary. Her research and her two books are truly gift to the community: Mary, the First Disciple: a Guide for Transforming Today’s Church and Mary and the Maternal Face of God. We were all grateful to share one of the days with Deanna Sabetta, CND and Marilyn Medinger, CND. Together, we engaged in a rich conversation and reflected on why Mary is so dear to our spirituality. 

This semester, Libby has taken an intensive course in the New Testament that lasted one week and is currently doing a class at Fordham with Elizabeth Johnson. In addition, she is getting one-on-one private lessons with Kathleen Deignan, CND on the spirituality of Thelllard de Chardin. These courses, in light of the new theologies and understandings, deepen Libby’s sense of connectedness with God and creation. It is helping to engage her spiritual journey of the heart, a great asset to religious life.

We had a taste of Central American and Japanese cuisines with a great visit from our sisters of Japan and Honduras. What a fabulous way to participate in an intercultural exchange! The joy and love present in cooking was impressive. This made us aware how cooking and sharing of one’s cultural foods evoke a deep sense of joy to want to share of oneself through food!

Last Friday, as a community, we were able to listen to a live podcast from Italy with Anthony Gittins on interculturality. Currently we are reflecting on his book, “Living Mission Interculturally: Faith, Culture, and the Renewal of Praxis” as a house. It is a timely book that I wish to recommend to you all in light of our CND mission directions.

We visited our sisters at the Motherhouse Infirmary, at Andrus, and St. Columba. And, just as recent as last week, we had a great visit from Becky McKenna, Provincial of Visitation Province. She shared her reflection on her experience with us and has posted it here. Do check it out when you have time.

As this Lent begins, we are reminded of God’s deep desire for each of us. God wishes us to change our hearts so we can recognize the signs of God’s immense love through the life of Jesus and through the life that surrounds us. Our communal journey isn’t without the engagement of prayer that is fashioned in creative ways, from faith sharing and contemplative prayer to the singing or reciting of the office. On Ash Wednesday evening, we even “sneaked” into the Church and prayed the pews, keeping in mind all the people who have come and continue to come to the parish. What a profound way to connect in prayer and allow the energies of God’s love to work through us as we mindfully walked about the church. These moments of deep and communal sharing have helped us to create space for contemplative prayer and discernment.

And, so my dear friends, I leave you with these highlights of what we have been about in the novitiate since our last report and “there hasn’t been a dull moment!”



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