By Sister Michele Morek
The day I am writing this, August 14, is the anniversary of the date in 1962 that my Ursuline class made our “investment” into the community: that is, received the habit and began our formal canonical novitiate. How appropriate that the quote for the day on my little Saint Angela desk calendar is one of my favorites:
“You should go often, when you have the time and opportunity, and especially on feast days, to visit your sisters: greet them, see how they are, comfort them, encourage them to remain constant in the way of life they have undertaken.” (Fifth Counsel)
No wonder we always enjoy getting together for Community Days every summer! We are “social animals,” and it is good for us to be together — I echo Peter: “It is good for us to be here!” (Among the young women pictured above, only four remain as Ursuline Sisters. Sister Michele is in the center of the back row; Sister Sheila Anne Smith is standing far right on the end of the back row; Sister Kathy Stein is seated on the right at the end of the first row; and Sister Rose Jean Powers is the second from the right in the second row.)
Recently I heard a National Public Radio interview with Andy Field, the author of a book on “Encounterism: The Neglected Joys of Being In Person.” He talked about the joys of being with – or what in my previous job at Global Sisters Report (GSR) we called “meeting in three dimensions,” versus on Zoom or in webinars.
Don’t get me wrong: Zoom was a real gift of the Covid-19 pandemic. It gave us a tool to keep in touch, while we became more global and the world became smaller. For example, at my recent retirement party from GSR, my sister-columnists from all over the world got to Zoom in, and we saw each other’s faces for the first time … it was like a sacrament!
But there is just something special about a “three dimensional” visit! And I am speaking with authority here, since Pope Francis told young people at the Youth Synod in Portugal: “You don’t find joy closed in a library” – insisting that it can only be found in encountering other people.
A special gift at our Community Days this summer helped ensure that we could be freer to encounter others. Jaklyn-Mahree Hill, the executive director of the Owensboro Human Relations Commission, helped us examine our biases, and underlined what many of us have been studying and learning about the injustices of privilege and systemic racism. Examining our biases makes all of our encounters with each other potentially richer, by helping us better understand and love people who may be different from us.
If you would like to know more about that part of our meeting, check out the Summer 2023 edition of our community magazine, Ursulines Alive. And continue to enjoy your own encounters!