(For more photos, see the Federation website)It’s not often that Presidents of organizations get a standing ovation when delivering their annual report, but it happened today. The three years since Sister Susan Hutchens was elected President have seen many changes; delegates were still pondering the lifecycle of religious organizations presented the day before by Sister Christine Vladimiroff. Two monasteries chose to close and merge due to the absence of new members and the aging of the community.
Sister Susan Hutchens chose to organize her report in a different way, using the Direction Statements and Goals drafted in 2009 at the same Chapter in which she was elected; she used images to show the ways in which movement had occurred on all the goals:
- Fostering monastic life
- Draw hope for the future from our heritage
- Promote scholarship and education, especially on our monastic heritage
- Strengthen relationships within the Church
- Sharing gifts of leadership and resources
- Explore creative ways to share resources
- Collaborate with AIM in support of programs for Benedictine monastic women worldwide
The report also pointed to the very real challenges – a drop of 50% in the number of sisters in our Federation, and in each of the other federations, in the last 20 years. This affects the budget as well: each monastery contributes to the Federation based on the number of sisters. Nonetheless, wise stewardship results in projections that carry the Federation into the foreseeable future with adequate funds to function.
For the afternoon session, we sang our refrain in Chinese for the first time. Sister Emmanuel Hsiang helped us with the pronunciation before we began.
The rest of the morning session and the first part of the afternoon sessions looked at Resolutions. Several revised the Constitutions to provide for the situation of monasteries merging. One resolution commits each monastery to study the issue of human trafficking and take actions they deem suitable.
The afternoon closed with the election of two members of the Council who will serve six year terms.