Poor Handmaids Gather for Community Days

Monday, 29 August 2011

Community Days

Every year the Poor Handmaids in the American Province gather together as a community. This June, Poor Handmaids from around the country and a few from around the world, converged on Donaldson, Indiana for Community Days.

This is a time for learning, for dialogue and reuniting as the PHJC family.

During Community Days, Chelsea Wakefield, MSW, LCSW, led a process on various issues related to leadership. Her sessions were designed to encourage the Sisters to “find voice” and to give expression to the truth in all the dimensions of their lives. The response to her presentations was overwhelmingly positive.

However, when asked what energized them the most during Community Days, many Sisters shared that it was the prayers and liturgies, that were uplifting, reflective, meaningful and creative.

Almost as many Sisters said it was just being present with one another—reconnecting, celebrating, and living community that enriched the time.

Though each day was filled with informative presentations from different working groups, there was time for fun. Evening socials were planned and tours were offered of MoonTree Community’s new facilities. On Sunday, the jubilarians, Sister Carmeline Parisi, Sister Johnilda Mannhard, Sister Joan Fisher and Sister Magdalen Hellmann, with an accumulative 275 years of service among them, were honored at a celebratory Mass and festive dinner. Several special honorary jubilarians were also recognized.

The environment of Cana Hall where the majority of the meeting was held during Community Days, symbolized the “tent of meeting.” This symbol reaches back to our forefathers and foremothers when religious meetings were held under a large tent. The tent was opened on one side to signify hospitality and was closed over the heads of the people to symbolize the divine Presence dwelling with them. The “tent of meeting” in Cana Hall was portrayed by the simple draping of light cloths from the ceiling above the tables.

Coming to Donaldson is a special time for the Sisters. Besides reconnecting with one another, it reenergizes them to continue their ministries when they return home.

- Julie Dowd, Director, Communications