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Ideas For Your Parish

_______________________________________________________________________                                                                                                    September, 2023

Completion for NY Sisters of Charity

No matter the age, whether it be an individual, family, community or organization, there is always a moment of completion when it is time to let go and move on to something else.  This happened at an assembly of the New York Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul.  They were founded by Elizabeth Ann Seton in 1809.  In the spring of 2023, on extraordinary event occurred.  The sisters voted unanimously to no longer accept any new novices.  The community, in other words, would eventually cease to exit.  Sherryl White wrote an article about this that appear in the May 17, 2023 issue of America Media (, “They listened to the report of predictable data: fewer members, a rising median age, long-standing absence of viable inquirers. . .   The delegates then voted unanimously to stop accepting new members.”  At the same time they affirmed that they would “continue to live our mission to the fullest, while acknowledging that we are on a path of completion.”  While there would still be work and ministry that lay ahead, in a not too distant future, the community would cease to exist.  All would come to completion. 

Letting Go

The same happens to us all.  At various times throughout our lives we are called to move on to something new, having realized that what we had been doing was good, but now something else was needed.  It might be freely choose, such as changing majors in college, trying out a new occupation, moving to a new location, falling in love, making a life-long commitment to another.  Or it could be forced upon us by circumstances outside of our control.  The youngest in the family goes to college leaving us as empty-nesters, our place of employment changes ownership forcing us to look elsewhere for work, an accident or a sudden change in health demands an adjustment in our routine and life style.  All of these situations require a letting go of a previous way of operating and a rethinking of what was once normal but now no longer seemed realistic.  These experiences, whether of our own making or coming from outside, grab our attention and demand shifts and adjustments in our lives.  Whatever changes we make are unique to each person’s situation, desires and abilities, but some general suggestions can be made as one moves from one situation to another. 

  1. Accept the reality that change is inevitable; we can’t escape this ongoing movement in our lives. A loved one dies, a friend moves away, an engaging interest becomes routine, a hobby is left behind.   
  2. Develop an attitude of being open to new experiences when they occur, seeing them as avenues to enjoyment rather than obstacles to our happiness.
  3. Prepare for letting go by occasionally stepping out of a regular routine or ritual and trying out something new and unfamiliar.
  4. Look for new ways of doing things, realizing that they can provide extra energy and interest rather than being a threat to what you are used to doing.
  5. Be thankful when a new path is laid out before us and we have to take the risk of giving it a try. As St. Paul states in II Corinthians, 5:17, “The past is finished and gone, everything has become fresh and new.” (J.B. Philip’s translation.)