For forty years Kathleen served as a missionary in Latin America, mainly in Venezuela and Peru. Here, along with members of her Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet community, Kathleen lived and worked tirelessly to respond to the 'signs of the times' in the post-Vatican II church, first and foremost by acknowledging and addressing issues of poverty and injustice. She was greatly loved and respected for such work, with a Peruvian friend once telling her, "You may have a gringa face but you have a Peruvian heart."
In her retirement in St. Paul, Minnesota, Kathleen continued to work on issues of justice and peace, including justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. For instance, in 2011-2012 I had the honor of working with her and two others in drafting a position paper on developing a healthy Catholic sexual theology. Later this year this paper will be presented for publication by the Council of the Baptized, a "deliberative body whose purpose is to discern the sense of the faithful in the Archdiocese [of St. Paul-Minneapolis] and to be its voice."
I honor Kathleen this evening by sharing an excerpt from her autobiography This Really Happened: One Missionary's Story of Transformation (2011).
During my life I have dedicated many years to formal education with children, youth and adults. My pasoral work, both administrative and sacramental, has been closely linked to community building, especially among the economically poor. These same poor people taught me more about building community than I taught them. They taught me solidarity, reciprocity and unconditional love. The many years I lived in Peru in the midst of poverty marked me deeply.
A favorite quote of mine, taken from St. Iraneaus, has become basic to my spirituality and has had a deep influence on my life's work: "The glory of God is the person fully alive." It has been a liberating experience for me to discover that as we allow ourselves to enter into authentic relationship with others in the struggles and joys of life, we both become "fully alive." I am grateful that I have been led by the Spirit throughout my life to embrace this life-giving interconnectedness with the "dear neighbor." There God is revealed in community as the heart of compassion. God is always present among us and in our beautiful, cosmic, ever-evolving world. And that is precisely where "This really happened."
Recommended Off-site Links:
Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet and Consociates
The Nun Justice Project
Francis to Religious: Don't Sweat Too Much the CDF – Thomas C. Fox (National Catholic Reporter, June 11, 2013).
Redefinig Radical: Catholic Nuns Vs. the Vatican – Mark Engler (Yes! via The Progressive Catholic Voice, June 19, 2012).
What the Nuns Story is Really About – Fr. Doug Koesel (The Progressive Catholic Voice, June 1, 2012).
See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Beginning the Process
Reflections on Associate/Consociate Programs by Joan Chittister
Making My Consociate Commitment
The Inspiring Brigid McDonald
The Vatican and U.S. Women Religious
Joseph of Dreams
Road Trip to St. Louis: Part 5 – Carondelet
Image: Michael J. Bayly (April 2012).