A Message from Sister Charlene
THEME FOR THE 2023-2024 SCHOOL YEAR
The Journey Towards Reconciliation That All May Be One
Dear Mount Community,
Welcome to the 2023-2024 academic school year at Mount Saint Joseph Academy!
It's both a privilege and a pleasure to share our theme for this new school year. We will build on last year's theme of Service to the Dear Neighbor – an integral part of our mission rooted in the spirit of the Sisters of Saint Joseph and supported by Maxim 5 – Learn to see your ego and how it operates and then choose love. Last year we grew more deeply into an understanding of this theme as we learned the Zulu greeting Sawubona which means "we see you." And the response to that greeting, Yabo Sawubona, which acknowledges that the other is seen as well. Afterall, how can we serve the dear neighbor if we do not see them and recognize their worth and dignity?
This year our theme is The Journey Toward Reconciliation That All May Be One. The SSJ Mission and Charism reminds us that union/unity/communion is built on reconciliation. Within the word reconciliation is the root cilia which means eyelash. Unity calls us to reconciliation and reconciliation is a journey. When we can be eyelash to eyelash, person to person, truly encountering one another, we can continue that work of service to the dear neighbor as we recognize the worth and dignity of one another. Maxim 41 provides helpful insight about how to make the journey toward reconciliation.
Be gentle with yourself, the dear neighbor, and all creation.
We are all still evolving.
Reconciliation takes intention, time and practice. If we make the journey of reconciliation, we can count on some obstacles, notably conflict. Conflict can bring change and transform perspectives, relationships, and communication. Reconciliation is a journey to a place where Truth, Mercy, Justice, and Peace meet. Reconciliation is actually a ministry, a call from God. So, we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5:20) God’s mission is to bring all people together to heal and to reconcile them with each other and with God. That’s the mission of the Sisters of Saint Joseph. It is a Gospel call!
Author John Paul Lederach suggests three actions to embrace as we journey toward reconciliation that all may be one: wander, wonder and wait. These actions will help us as we evolve. The journey of reconciliation requires us to wander – to walk the road without knowing the exact destination we will reach, only with knowing that God is walking before us and with us. The journey of reconciliation also requires us to wonder – to keep our eyes open, ears attentive and spirit alert to seek better understanding. Finally, the journey requires us to wait for good things to happen, good ideas to come and better understanding to occur. To wait means to hope and expect the good that can come from change.
Lederach also offers great insight into the work of reconciliation. His insights are based on the Christian beliefs of Truth, Mercy, Justice, and Peace.
Truth is like a light cast so that all may see. In times of conflict, truth is concerned with bringing forward, out into the open, what really happened. Truth is helped by transparency, honesty and clarity. Remember that truth sets people free. Sometimes, it seems that people think they have the truth, and others believe that they do. Actually, there is only one truth, but it can be experienced in many different ways. So, truth resides within each person yet nobody owns truth. Truth can only appear where the search is authentic and genuine. It is found when each person shares with others what they know and respects the other’s voice.
Mercy is concerned with people and their relationships. Acceptance, compassion and support stand with mercy. Human beings are fragile and no one is perfect. Mercy never covers Truth’s light. Mercy is built of steadfast love that undergirds life itself and can bring forth new beginnings.
Justice is concerned about making things right and looks beyond the surface and the issues that cause conflict. What lies at the heart of most conflicts is inequity, greed, and wrongdoing. Justice makes sure that something is done to restore any damage done - to restore relationship, but never at the expense of acknowledging and rectifying what broke the relationship in the first place. All of us have been wronged. Remember that justice is most concerned about accountability. Too often we think that any and everything is acceptable. True and committed relationships are those characterized by honest accounting and steadfast love. Love without accountability is nothing but words. Love with accountability changes behavior and actions. That’s real restoration.
Peace holds a community together with the encouragement of security, respect and well-being. It’s the peace that only God can give. Without peace, there is no space for truth to be heard. And without justice, there is no respite from the vicious cycle of accusation, bitterness and hurt. Be careful to use truth, mercy, and justice in ways that are good and pure. We need one another. We must stand together -Truth, Mercy, Justice and Peace. This place where we stand together is reconciliation. Reconciliation is possible so that all may be one. There can be communion. It is God’s dream and we are partners in that mission. May we be gentle with ourselves, the dear neighbor and all of creation as we evolve.
May we be faithful to the mission for the sake of our students.
Yours in Saint Joseph,
Sister Charlene Diorka, SSJ