Dear Members, Partners, and Friends of the Conference,
Life at the RFC this past year can be likened to a kaleidoscope; ever changing, yet beautiful in its new configurations. In December 2022 Ellen Dauwer, SC ended her second term as Executive Director. Under Ellen’s leadership the past seven years, the Conference flourished. Signature programs such as ForMission and Orientation to Formation thrived. Grants from the Hilton and GHR Foundations funded new ventures such as the Intercongregational Collaborative Novitiate (ICCN), Together, and RFC’s new online Resources Portal.
On January 1, 2023, Mary Pat Garvin, RSM, PhD and Ryan Hoffmann, DMin began as Interim Executive Co-Directors for a period of six months. This provided the Board with time to complete a new leadership structure. In March, the Board announced a pilot initiative with the Leadership Collaborative (LC) for a period of three years and includes shared leadership and collaboration in administration and programming. Linda Buck, CSJ and Ryan Hoffmann, DMin will become Executive Co-Directors beginning on July 1, 2023.
As the future beckons us forward with energy and excitement, we pause to look back and reflect on all God’s goodness in 2022.
As last year's annual report recounts, the year was jam-packed full of outstanding programming, resources, partnerships, and discernment regarding the future of the organization. Each of us, seeing through our own lens, brought varying colors and shapes, contours and lines, reflections and patterns into view. Together, our kaleidoscope (from the Greek, “beautiful form”) illustrated a tapestry of gifts, voices, and views that illuminated a rich mosaic of formation ministry and religious life in the U.S. If one ventures to step back and look at it from the outside, the scope is breathtaking. A beautiful form of life, indeed!
The year-in-review section of the report catalogues the many beautiful forms that took shape and informed the work of the RFC in 2022. We hope you’ll take time to read through the ways the Conference supported, enhanced, and resourced religious life last year. From a return to in-person programs to continued use of online spaces, we held space for formators and leaders to come together and discern, together, the emerging now and evolving future before us.
The InterCongregational Collaborative Novitiate (ICCN), for example, was a vibrant example of intercultural, intergenerational, and intercongregational collaboration in 2022. Six sisters from six congregations, six cultures, and six generations excelled as they learned about and experienced religious life in the 21st century. This kaleidoscope of exploration and discovery, deep learning and integration, was transforming.
Together, the cohort-based, residential theology program for religious continued strong during 2022, too. Six religious sisters in temporary vows formed community and supported each other as they continued their graduate studies at Catholic Theological Union. Their formation evenings included time for faith sharing, input, prayer, and so much more. As a couple of them graduate this spring, we wish them all the best in all their future endeavors.
The Conference’s webinars continue to draw a large and diverse audience. Many of the webinars, especially those co-sponsored with SOAR! (Support Our Aging Religious), reached 400+ participants from around the globe. Collaboration with the Asociación de Hermanas Latinas Misioneras en América (ALHMA) was a new partnership that has enriched RFC programming as we engage in serving religious in the U.S. and beyond. Opportunities for intercultural encounter and collaboration continue to light the path forward.
All the efforts and programming of RFC would not be possible without the dedicated Staff at the National Office in Chicago and the Board of Directors. The staff continues to offer its best to membership, while the Board is committed to leading RFC forward as an agent of change in shaping religious life in the 21st century.
As we look back on all that 2022 had in store, we attest that the changes that have emerged over the past year, like the kaleidoscope, have offered us an opportunity to marvel in the beauty of what is possible through teamwork, dedication, and creativity!
We are grateful to all who contributed to the initiatives, programs, and resources of the Conference last year. Thank you for sharing your journey with us.
Come, Holy Spirit!
Mary Pat Garvin, RSM, PhD
Ryan Hoffmann, DMin