By Lisa Martin Bellomy
DAVENPORT – The Congregation of the Humility of Mary (CHM) held its General Assembly from June 24-27 at the SteepleGate Inn in Davenport. More than 100 Sisters and CHM Associates, from throughout the United States and Mexico, attended the annual meeting.
The General Assembly is a time for community business, sharing among members and celebration. Major events during the weekend included a welcoming rite for 13 new CHM Associates, a 10th anniversary party for Our Lady of the Prairie Retreat and celebration of the purchase of property on which the Humility of Mary Center is built from St. Ambrose University.
A Jubilee Mass celebrated at St. John Vianney Church in Bettendorf honored 17 Sisters, two of whom have been in the congregation for 75 years, one for 70 years, four for 60 years and 10 for 50 years. Thirteen of the honorees were present and the other four are residents of Bishop Drumm Care Center in Johnston. Selma Hanley of Lewistown, Mont., was honored for her 25 years as an Associate. Her daughter, Sister Kathleen Hanley, was one of the 50-year honorees.
Like many religious congregations today, the Sisters are challenged in seeking new members who are called to make a lifetime commitment to vowed religious life. This was an important focus of the General Assembly. Facilitating this part of the program was Sister Maria Cimperman, OSU. She works with leadership groups and congregations of religious in the U.S. and internationally, focusing on formation and incorporation programs of new members.
The CHM community was invited to participate in a process to assess the community’s openness to younger women whose life experiences are so different from the Sisters. Studies show that many potential members are already engaged in ministry and are now searching for life and prayer in community. All agreed that what most attracts women is seeing the Sisters living fully the life to which they have committed themselves.
A Representative Assembly (RA) of the CHMs was held June 28-30 on the campus of St. Ambrose University in Davenport.
The RA, ordinarily convened every four years, determines the future directions, priorities and programs of the congregation. This was a special RA to revise the process for electing congregation leadership. Facilitator Sister Mary Jo Nelson, OLVM, has an extensive background in team and leadership development, group facilitation, mentoring and consultation services for religious congregations.
The new process, for the election of president, vice-president and three cabinet members to take office in July 2012, will begin at the 2011 General Assembly with an education component for the congregation. Those Sisters nominated will participate in a reflective process prior to any vote by members.
Other actions included adoption of these corporate statements:
• Immigration — Members of the Congregation of the Humility of Mary urge the U.S. Administration and Congress to enact fair federal immigration reform. Legislation should reflect our values as a nation: protecting and respecting the dignity of all people and preserving the unity of families.
• Care of the Earth — At this time the CHM commitment to “care of the earth” will include emphasis on reducing the carbon impact of the Humility of Mary Center and assisting Sisters in the reduction of their individual carbon footprint.
• Hispanic culture and ministry — The members offer continued support to CHM Sisters and Associates whose ministries include Hispanics. They will increase interaction with the Hispanic community through hospitality and education.