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Spirit of Wisdom, Direct Our Hearts

Spirit of Wisdom, direct our hearts.
Spirit of Wisdom, direct our hearts.
Guide our visions, free us to risk.
Spirit of Wisdom, direct our hearts.

The Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration (FSPA) have lifted up a new leadership team for the coming four years. A president, a vice president, and three mission councilors. Five very impressive FSPA Sisters from a nominee circle of ten very impressive women. They represent a team that will steward essential direction, shifts, and some major decisions facing the community. They are also a touchstone of vision that will invite input and collaboration in the spirit of what my friends Christina Baldwin and Ann Linnea aptly name as “leaders in every chair.”

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My partner Teresa Posakony and I helped design and host an elections process that took place over the last seven months within the FSPA community. It involved deliberate circles of community discernment, individual reflections, and a discernment weekend at which 20 sisters participated. It culminated these last few days with an Elections Assembly. Prayers, openings, and closings offered by sisters. Questions to reconnect and re-animate mission and the experience of the June 2013 General Assembly. Small table conversations. Movement. Play.

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 One of the things that really impressed me in the Elections Assembly was the commitment from the nominees to a transparency. In a few places, we asked the nominees to respond to questions as if they were holding a circle together in front of the room. Ten people talking and listening together. 110 people witnessing it. Not campaigning. Not regurgitating. Just speaking what was in their hearts and what they were hearing during the days that felt important. This distinction — “on the spot for transparency and witnessing,” is very different than “on the spot to synthesize everything that happened” — was important. It is less testing. It is more tuning. It shows a value that I believe the current leadership team will try to strengthen in the FSPA community and with partners and affiliates, the practice of transparency and inclusion.

It takes a kind of maturity to suspend individual certainty, to suspend individual bias, to open heart, mind, and soul to the discernment that comes uniquely from engaging with the group.

These FSPA Sisters did this in spades this week. I was happy to be a part of it.

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