Sister Susan Hutchens and her Council designed this Federation Chapter so that the business would come first – reports, discussion of resolutions, and elections.
Friday and Saturday are devoted to thinking together about how to build our future, focusing on building a culture of vocation and formation. Sister Bobbi Bussan (Rock Island, IL) and Sister Ruth Starman (Clyde, MO) drew on their own years of experience in vocation ministry, relevant research studies, and the responses sent in by each of our member monasteries to highlight the ways in which we build – or block – a culture of vocation. The discussion was lively, especially when we considered the things young people say they are seeking (traditional devotions, common attire) and the way of life in our monasteries. “If we know who we are,” said one sister, “do we give that up just to recruit new members?” Several concurred. “But are the differences really about the essentials?” asked another. How can we be visible as an integral part of the local diocesan Church now that we are not the workforce for staffing schools and hospitals? The discussion will continue on Saturday.
The afternoon was devoted to strengthening the ties among us through shared fun. The sisters of Annunciation Monastery generated a menu of entertainment options for our free afternoon. Some went to the zoo (“No more English!” said one of the Japanese sisters – I can imagine how hard these days have been for her), or a riverboat ride.
Four of us chose to see the North Dakota State Historical Museum – everything from the early dinosaurs that roamed this part of North America to the prehistoric native tribes, the tragic story of contact and violence between European traders and settlers and the native peoples, and the social history of the 19th and 20th centuries.
A statue titled Sakakawea, one of the many transliterations of the name of the woman who traveled, with her husband, on the Lewis and Clark exhibition was made in the early 20th century, carefully finding a Native American model and native clothing so that the statue would not represent a native woman as imagined by a Euro-American artist but as she really was. An exhibit inside the museum detailed the effort to create the statue, and the acclaim it has received since.