'We see relationship at the heart of mission'
Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston see relationship being at the heart of our mission, a mission of love that strives to unite people with God, with one another and with all of creation. This is a mission that is relevant for all times and for every ministry setting. When I reflect on the various ministries in which I have served, I've been blessed to form many relationships, many connections with people of all ages. The commonality in all those relationships has been the desire to know and be known by a loving God and to share that love wherever possible.
As a member of a diocesan congregation, I have only served in the Church of Boston: as teacher of primary-grade children; as vocation director to young women discerning God's call; a director of retreat and renewal programs in parishes for the Spiritual Development Office; as pastoral associate in St. Ann Parish, Quincy, and currently working with pastors and staffs in the work of pastoral planning and evangelization. The most energizing aspect of each of those ministries has been the opportunity to engage with people who want to grow in their relationship with God, to share that love with others and work to remove the walls that divide people, in a spirit of love that unifies. This mission of unifying love is very pertinent to the times in which we are living, especially as it relates to the call of Pope Francis to create a synodal Church. The themes of the synod are communion, participation, and mission, all having to do with opening our hearts, allowing ourselves to experience conversion/transformation as we listen for the Spirit's voice in our interactions with others. Pope Francis has been challenging all Catholics to engage in this process of synodal listening as a way of becoming open, welcoming and embracing everyone.
While working with parishes in the archdiocese, it is exciting to see the way God works when people are open to forming relationships that cut across old mind-sets and territorial boundaries. It is definitely the Spirit who is at work when people begin to acknowledge the ways boundaries have kept us separate and divided in parishes rather than uniting people as one body, the Church. As people take time to get to know others, to form relationships with others in a nearby parish, for instance, the mission of loving unity grows. Parishioners begin to see and accept that while there may be different cultures, different expressions and practices of faith, these things do not have to cause us to be separate, rather they can form a foundation out of which flows a profound love of God and of all of God's people. Seeing these small but significant changes in how we relate to one another move us closer to Pope Francis' vision of how we are to be Church. And so it rings true for me that relationship truly is at the heart of mission -- and the mission is unifying love.
SISTER PAT BOYLE, CSJ, IS ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF PASTORAL PLANNING FOR THE ARCHDIOCESE OF BOSTON AND THIS YEAR CELEBRATES 60 YEARS AS A SISTER OF ST. JOSEPH OF BOSTON.