Evening Prayer on Thursday evening marks our entrance into the sacred space of election. Every four years we gather for a long weekend of prayer, discernment and group process that leads us to the election of a new prioress. Sister Cecilia Dwyer has been our prioress for two consecutive terms (8 years). She may, according to the Constitution of the Federation of St. Scholastica, be elected for a third term. (I call that hitting a triple!) We have always been blessed with wonderful leadership. I have no doubt that when the Holy Spirit begins her dance in our midst, we will be moved to elect just the right woman for the next four years.
We have been praying already – a nine-day novena in preparation for these holy days. Unlike the “real” world, there is no campaigning – no t-shirts, bumper stickers or buttons for our favorite “candidate.” No, this prayerful enterprise is dependent on God’s grace and the skillful facilitation of our election process. As is our custom, two sisters from within our Federation were invited to guide us through these days – Sister Susan Quaintance, OSB, from Chicago and Sister Roberta Campbell, OSB from Pittsburgh, PA. Normally, the President of the Federation witnesses the election, but since she happens to be one of us, she cannot. In Sister Glenna’s place the First Councilor of the Federation, Sister Lynn Marie McKenzie, OSB of Cullman, AL, will represent the Federation in our process. (You might remember Sister Lynn Marie from our Visitation process last October.) On the home front our Election Committee – appointed by the current prioress – has things well in hand. Sister Andrea, Sister Lisbeth and Sister Veronica have planned for these days months in advance and enabled the community to communicate our hopes to the facilitators as well as our new plan for the next four years. This plan, in essence, becomes the new prioress’ “job description.” Although having the right skill set is a plus, it is not the main determinant for election. For that we go to the The Rule.
Saint Benedict clearly states what is most important: Goodness of life and wisdom in teaching must be the criteria for choosing the one to be made prioress, even if she is the last in community rank (RB 64:2). And in chapter 2 the spiritual weight of the office is made clear. She is believed to take the place of Christ in the monastery (RB 2:2). So, dear friends and Oblates, please hold us in prayer this weekend. After the “white smoke” there will be news here on our blog and on Facebook. Stay tuned…and ask God to bless the one who will say “yes” to this great ministry.
Blessings and love to you all…
- Sister Vicki