Under the ever-present veil of the pandemic, the Sisters of Saint Dominic of Caldwell, New Jersey, held their Chapters of Life of Mission and Elections from July 20th to 26th. Originally scheduled to take place in the Motherhouse Chapel as separate events in March and May, the chapters were rescheduled to be held in succession in Caldwell University’s gymnasium. This change of venue allowed sisters to follow all physical distancing protocols.
The congregation’s facilitator, Sister Joanne Hanrahan, SSND, who had planned to travel from Saint Louis, exhibited great flexibility by participating via Zoom, opening the Chapter with table conversations about personal and communal experiences related to our current realities.
Throughout the week, “Big Picture” conversations centering on health care, properties, forms of vocations, racism, climate, and leadership took place within the framework of contemplative dialogue. After writers and delegates worked through drafts and edits, the congregation unanimously affirmed a Chapter Direction Statement for the next five years. Congregational statements on racism and climate justice were also affirmed.
Following a day of community discernment, Bishop Elias Lorenzo, OSB, celebrated the Mass of the Holy Spirit prior to the new leadership team’s election. Preaching on the readings for the Seventeenth Sunday of the Year, focusing on the wisdom of Solomon and the exemplary wisdom of the parables in Matthew, the Bishop asked, “At this time in your history, who is God raising up to lead this community forward, always forward, everywhere forward?”
The answer to that question came as present delegates voted. Sister Luella Ramm was elected Prioress and accepted the call from her sisters. Sister Patricia Tavis was then elected Vicaress with Sisters Lena Picillo and Marie Mueller completing the new team as councilors. The newly elected were blessed by all with the singing of the Dominican Blessing. Sister Patrice Werner then formally closed Chapter 2020, and delegates joined voices in singing the Dominican Magnificat.