by Suzanne Johnson, President LCUSA
photos by John Caulfield
Perhaps I am a bit prejudiced because I was part of the planning committee, and I stood before the assembly speaking more times than I can count, but I came away from the recent National Assembly on such a “high” that it may be days before my feet touch the ground! Let me reminisce.
Our celebration began with two hours of reflection time with Sr. Joyce Rupp, speaking to us about compassion – compassion for others and ourselves. This was followed by a celebratory dinner where we were invited to watch “Ladies of Charity” videos – “Serving with a Vincentian Heart,” “Stories of Hope,” “Serving with Vincentian Creativity” and “Next Generation.” These videos, produced by Joan and Martin Ball, are available for viewing on this website.
Friday morning began, as all our assemblies do, with celebration of Mass, followed by opening remarks by Bishop Howard Hubbard, Bishop Emeritus of Diocese of Albany. The Bishop gave us a history of the role of the laity and women in the Church, and remarked on the “forward thinking” of St. Vincent de Paul, who in 1617 was encouraging LAY WOMEN to assume their roles in the Church. A copy of his remarks is posted on this website also. On Friday, five women presented the history of Ladies of Charity and the lives of those persons who played important roles in our formation. After lunch, the Ladies could learn (very briefly!) about five projects in which Ladies of Charity are or have been involved, followed by Regional Meetings.
Saturday morning saw us praying together with Tom Jacobs, a retreatant from the Kansas City area, whose prayers emphasized service and companionship on our journey of service. We were honored to have Sr. Kathleen Appler, D.C., the Superioress General of the Daughters of Charity. Sister is the first American woman to serve in that position, and flew in from France to be with us. Sister’s talk focused on the history of the Ladies of Charity and the journey shared by the Ladies and the Daughters for the past 400 years.
Our Best Practices Panel focused on By-Laws, Junior Ladies of Charity, Advocacy and the Vincentian Lay Spiritual Moderator Program. (A copy of that power point is posted on this website: click here to download Best Practices 2017) Nine women were commissioned as Lay Vincentian Spiritual Moderators! Our business meeting included a resolution for LCUSA to support the DACA (DREAMers) bill currently in the Senate and the House of Representatives. The resolution was adopted with overwhelming approval from those assembled.
After our business meeting, Sr. Paule Freeburg, D.C. spoke about serving the poor with dignity – “putting the napkin on the tray.” Each lady in attendance was then given a napkin along with encouragement to “Put the Napkin on the Tray.” After a final blessing by the Spiritual Moderators, we went to the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, where Fr. Gregory Gay, former Superior General of the Congregation of the Mission, celebrated Mass. [Read his homily here.]
I am thankful to many people – Donna Montague and Ruth Noel, fellow chairpersons of the assembly and ALL the Kansas City Association members, many of whom worked diligently behind the scenes. I am thankful to the members of the National Planning Committee, whose diligence resulted in the speakers and program. I am thankful to the staff of the hotel – the food was fabulous and the service was incredible. I am thankful to the photographer, John Caulfield, whose photos can also be viewed on this website. Finally, I am grateful to all those women who attended this assembly and celebration of our 400th anniversary. Over the course of three days, over 200 women were in attendance. Thank you for joining us.
Remember – our next assembly will be in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania from September 21 – 22, 2018. Please plan to attend. We are nothing without you.