Monday, May 08, 2006

Beginning the Process

Last Monday I was welcomed as a candidate for consociate membership with the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet (CSJ), a Catholic religious order dedicated to living active, inclusive love – loving God and neighbor without distinction.

Consociates are women and men of diverse life-styles and faith traditions committed to living the mission of the CSJs within the context of their lives and responsibilities. After a two-year process, involving learning CSJ history and governance, participating in CSJ activities, and demonstrating how one’s life as a consociate extends the CSJ mission, candidates make a commitment vow and are welcomed as consociates. My "companions" on this journey are my dear friends Rita McDonald, CSJ, and (pictured with me below) Marguerite Corcoran, CSJ.

Following are my responses to questions that were part of the first stage of the consociate candidacy process:

Please share some of your background (e.g., education, family, work, etc.)

I was born and raised in rural Australia, where I attended Catholic grade school and high school. Before relocating to the US in 1994, I taught at a Catholic elementary school in Goulburn for six years. I’ve always had a great interest in facilitating and encouraging conversation and discussion about the experience of God in human life. I also feel called to explore the various intersections of religion and culture – in particular the realm of theology and the arts.

I originally came to the US so as to come out as a gay man and to study for a Masters in Theology at the College of St. Catherine. After graduating in 1996, I taught various religion classes in the Liberal Arts and Science department of St. Catherine’s Minneapolis campus. From 2000-2003 I worked as director of the Education for Liberation program at Spirit of the Lakes United Church of Christ in Minneapolis.

Since 2003 I’ve served as the executive coordinator of the Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities (CPCSM). In 2003 I graduated from United Theological Seminary with a second Masters – this one in Theology and the Arts. I’m a member of both Spirit of the Lakes UCC and St. Stephen's Catholic Church in South Minneapolis. My family in Australia are very supportive of all aspects of my life in the US. My parents visited the Twin Cities in July 2005 and met many of my friends – including several of my CSJ friends.

What is your history with the Sisters of St. Joseph and Consociates?

My journey with the CSJs began in 1994 when I commenced my studies at the College of St. Catherine - founded in 1905 by the CSJs. In 1997 I became involved in the Twin Cities justice and peace community – in particular, the weekly vigil at the corporate headquarters of Alliant TechSystems, the state’s largest military contractor. Through such involvement I came to forge lasting friendships with many CSJs.

I’ve also built lasting friendships with a number of CSJs through my work with CPCSM. The Sisters have, over the years, been very supportive of the ministry of CPCSM, and I value the opportunities I’ve had to facilitate various collaborations between CPCSM and the CSJs. Our dear friend and CPCSM co-founder Bill Kummer went through the consociate process in the last years of his life. I learnt a lot about the CSJs as a result of walking with Bill, and certainly appreciated the CSJs support of Bill as he prepared for his death.

What draws you to the Sisters of St. Joseph and Consociates?

The mission of the CSJs - to love God and neighbor without distinction - resonates with me, and the intentionality of the consociate process is very appealing to me. Also, the strong sense of community that the CSJs exude and their compassionate engagement with the world, draws me to seek to be a consociate member of the CSJ community.

Why do you want to be a CSJ consociate? How does it fit your personal goals?

The thought of journeying with the CSJ/consociate community, learning and growing from such shared pilgrimage, and being able to share my gifts and talents along the way, is the main reason why I want to be a CSJ consociate. A personal goal is to be always growing in awareness and compassion, and the CSJ/consociate community clearly encourages and nurtures such growth.

What do you ask of the CSJ community?

I simply ask to be welcomed as a fellow pilgrim with the CSJ community, and that the members of this community walk with me as together we seek to embody God’s transforming love in our world. The CSJs have a long history of embodying this love in powerful and often cutting-edge ways. I resonate with such ways and feel that I – and the CSJ community – can benefit from our journeying together. Given my history with the CSJs, this shared journey is already well underway, yet I look forward to it being enhanced, formalized and ritualized as a result of my going through the process of becoming a CSJ consociate.

To learn more about the CSJ consociate program, click here.

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