A number of our Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity serve on the boards of our sponsored ministries or other organizations. This month Sister Laura Wolf was invited to share her board involvement and recent visit to Rome.
In 2018 I was asked by a colleague to sit on the Sponsor Board of a newly formed Public Juridic Person Board entitled Franciscan Calais Ministries (FCM), for the Franciscan Sisters of Our Lady Health System (FMOLHS) in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Such a board was created by the FMOL Sisters as the number of their Sisters in the USA continues to decline and the responsibilities for their ministries increased. The purpose of FCM is to assist the Sisters in overseeing the Catholic Identity of their institutions and help them meet their Canonical responsibilities for properties and finance. The five members Board is made up of both lay and religious. FCM was approved by the Dicastery for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (DICLSAL) in 2018.
It has been five years since the creation of FCM and the Board was invited to Rome to visit with Cardinal Joao Braz Aviz, Prefect of DICLSAL and his staff and to update them on what FCM accomplished, what are its concerns today and how we perceive the future. Five members of the FCM Board and staff traveled to Rome for a meeting on Oct 3. The group included Sister Ann Catherine Nguyen, Regional Superior for the FMOL Sisters in the USA, Sister Rebecca Ann Gemma, OP, Superior for the Dominican Sisters of Springfield Ill, Senator Gerald Boudreaux, State Senator in Louisiana Legislature, Jennifer DeCuir, esq. General Counsel to FCM and myself. We left home on Oct 1, arrived in Rome on Oct 2, had the meeting with the DICLSAL Oct 3 and returned Oct 4. It was a whirlwind visit but met the need of both parties to learn about each other in person and showcase the work accomplished. Cardinal Braz-Aviz was most gracious in welcoming us and listening intently to our formal and informal reports on the history and challenges of FCM. He expressed his gratitude to the FMOL Sisters for their years of service to the Church and encouraged us to remain true to who we say we are in our ministries and to follow the teachings of Christ and his Church. The meeting lasted about 45 minutes and we were relieved and grateful for the interest and concern of the Church.
An added bonus for me occurred on Monday evening when I had a lovely dinner and visit with Sister Marie Kolbe. She came straight from her office and was full of news of the Synod and the preparations for this historic event. We were able to find a restaurant not far from the hotel that would serve us dinner before 7:30 pm and enjoyed a delicious dinner.
After dinner we sat in the roof-top garden of our hotel overlooking St. Peter’s dome and shared all the news. It was a wonderful evening. As we were leaving the hotel on Thursday the Opening Mass for the Synod was being celebrated in St Peter’s Square. It struck me how in such a short time I was able to impact in a little way the works of the local Church in the USA and be an observer of the Holy Spirit at work in the Universal Church. What a blessing!