February 24, 2022

In this issue

Observations, Memories and Reflections of the Visioning Process (Part 1 of 2)
By Anne Kemp
I want to share with the Passionist Family a few observations, memories and reflections. 
They come from a place of great warmth, admiration and hopefulness all of which I experienced during my active involvement in the Visioning Process from 2016-2019 and ongoing through receiving all manner of communications since then. The experience has deepened my own spiritual journey in a way that no other professional work throughout my career has done.
"In the beginning, which would take us back to the fall of 2016, a few things stood out about what the Visioning Process meant:
  • It was to be the overall responsibility of the Provincial and Council through the efforts of the Visioning Commission.
  • There was a sense of urgency, ‘no time to waste,’ as the reality of declining numbers of vowed Passionists became clear, not to mention the changing demographics of those served by the Province’s ministries.
  • Everyone wanted the Visioning Process to result in a sustainable future vision, but at the same time, the needed transitions were emotionally and psychologically hard to speak about.
  • Vowed and lay Passionists brought different views, which everyone realized needed to be heard; recent changes in retreat center governance and lay leadership led to asking, ‘what more?’, ‘what’s next?’  with some excitement but also how are we - lay and vowed - fundamentally different and how can that be imagined.

At the very first gathering of the Visioning Commission, Don Senior, C.P., joined us to reflect on the question How might we root the work of “visioning” within our biblical and Christian tradition? Don joined us on several occasions throughout the 3 years leading up to and following Chapter. I cannot begin to express what this meant, certainly to me. Here are just a few of the messages he brought: 
  • “We are asked to change our lives in view of a future that is already breaking into our lives.  
  • Live now by the future you most earnestly desire to see…”  The fundamental rhythm of reality viewed through the lens of death/resurrection. From the chaos and incompletion of the present will emerge order and abundance of life.
  • But you, beloved, are not in darkness…for you are all children of light and children of the day, we are not of the night or of darkness.  So then, let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober… (1 Thess 5:4-6, NABRE).  
  • While the process of “visioning” should be carefully designed and draw on proven techniques, it remains a deeply Christian act and the motivation to engage in the hard work of visioning and planning should draw on the deepest wellsprings of our faith.
A Prayer for Planners (Thomas Merton)
"My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore, will I trust you always, though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.  Amen.”

Keith Zekind commented to me recently that as the Visioning Commission concluded its very first meeting, he sensed a great energy from our work - praying together, talking together and sharing the beginnings of a vision coming into being. 

The 2017 Assembly and subsequent fall Leadership Day produced a growing awareness that every Community in the Province was needed to invest in visioning at the local level and that every community must be listened to. This resulted in heartfelt, and sometimes emotional, community meetings. We heard courageous expressions - I can, in particular, recall from Faith Offman and David Colhour, C.P., of what was at stake for them personally. We all better understood that visioning the future is so much more than an abstract idea or a strategic planning process.

The gatherings allowed many, many more Passionists, vowed and lay to participate. I recall at St. Paul of the Cross Passionist Retreat & Conference Center’s meeting when Joe Moons, C.P., invited a number of lay Passionists who just happened to be at the retreat center that day to ‘come along.’ The room was overflowing. 

The stories, hopes and concerns shared during these community gatherings were also a reflection of different and emerging issues and perspectives that had not up until then been part of the Visioning conversation.  For example, the perception that lay Passionists had mostly a secondary type of commitment or interest in the future of the community or Ministry in which they were involved was largely put to rest by the vitality of their participation which spread across the Province. 
Above all there was a real sense that the Visioning was to be a provincial work,

not just the work of the Provincial.

Read the second half of Anne's reflection in the next Vision Fulfillment Newsletter. 
The Solemn Commemoration of the Passion
Tomorrow, February 25, is the Solemn Commemoration of the Passion.  It is the title feast of our Passionist Congregation.  In preparation for the sacred journey of Lent, we invite you to join the Passionists in prayer on Friday and share this reflection with you by John Schork, C.P.:

“Today we join the world in glorifying God through the vivid story of Love Personified in the Passion of Jesus. 
We Passionists follow in the footsteps of Jesus Crucified and share in the contemporary Passion so evident in our world.  We are called to share in the suffering of our sisters and brothers worldwide as they struggle with violence and war, as they strive for justice and a share of the basic goods of the earth, as they deal with natural disasters of earthquakes and floods and fires, and as they bear the cross of sickness and loneliness. 
We find meaning and a new perspective in Jesus’ “greatest love", and pray with St. Paul of the Cross:  "…when you feel yourself on the cross, stripped of everything, gently stir up your faith in God’s presence, and abandon yourself in the immense sea of God’s love." 

In union with Jesus Crucified, we boldly proclaim God’s Love in the Passion of Jesus.  St. Paul of the Cross speaks to our hearts:  "…the world lives unmindful of the sufferings of Jesus.  We must arouse the world from its slumber. His Holy Spirit will teach us how."  Amen!”

Yours in Christ’s love,
Fr. Michael Higgins, C.P.
Spiritual Director
Proclaiming Our Passionist Story (POPS)


"Storytelling is a natural outcome of speech, and to a certain extent, everyone is a storyteller, whether they know it or not."

-Tell It By Heart:  Women and the Healing Power of Story by Erica Helm Meade

This week, the Passionist Story Committee launched the sixth video in the Proclaiming Our Passionist Story (POPS) series

The series of videos captures and shares the Passionist story from a historical and contemporary perspective. You can view previous POPS videos here: 

The Passionist Sign: Our Shared Story
For Your Reflection: What does a Church That Values Trust Building Look Like? 

Adadpted from the Catholic Leadership Roundtable

Participants at the Leadership Roundtable’s Catholic Partnership Summit in February 2020 were asked, "What does a thriving Church look like?" in a variety of contexts. We invite you, through an ongoing series of reflections, to consider the answer to this question. For today, consider:

               "What does a Church that values trustbuilding look like?"              

  • “A thriving, co-responsible Church encourages honesty.”
  • “Polarization in public life is very much a part of Church life. We need to be explicit in
    building bridges and trying to find common ground.”
  • “Focus on Jesus as a means to build trust.”
  • “Trust between lay people and clergy, working together with a true focus on and love of Church. Trust is the foundation of transformation and listening is important in this process.”

What does a Church that values trustbuilding look like to you?

Click here to let us know what you think. We may feature your response in a future Vision Fulfillment Newsletter

Dear Lord, though you struggled with the responsibility to do your Father’s Will, you accepted even the greatest of suffering with dignity and calm.  Teach me not to resist my sufferings.  Give me the grace to be nourished by the goodness of your Holy Will, whatever that may bring.  Grant me the wisdom to always find the value in my personal trials.  When faced with the difficult choices that come in my life, may I always have the courage to choose your Will.
If you would like to share your thoughts, ideas or reactions from anything in this newsletter, we would love to hear from you!

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