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BVM Association Relationship: Celebrating 50 Years A Prayer Service Reflection

by Associates Mary Beth Coleman and Eileen O’Shea

A 50th anniversary is a milestone event, and we give thanks for all that has brought us to this day. For those who have gone before us, who have awakened the charism of Mary Frances Clarke within us, we pray, “Be with us.” For all who journey with us now, encouraging our efforts to follow the Spirit, we say, “Thank you.”

As I reflected on this day and the scripture readings, I thought how appropriate that the Gospel is about a journey—a continuation of the story of the disciples encountering Jesus on the road to Emmaus. The disciples were walking away from Jerusalem after the events of Good Friday and Easter Sunday, conversing with one another. No doubt they felt a little lost.

In the early days of association, there were many questions, many moments of feeling lost. Fifty years later we still have questions—“Where do we go from here?” “Who will hold us together?” “What is our purpose, our vision?” “How can we go forward?”

But then, 50 years ago, as now, we have and are making our way forward, one step at a time. Just as in the Gospel story, it is in the questioning, in the moments of doubt, that God is found. When the disciples encountered the stranger on the road, they recognized the Christ in the breaking of the bread. The disciples returned to Jerusalem to tell their friends what had happened. They had been given a gift—an insight, which strengthened their faith and confidence in discipleship.

We too, sisters and associates, have been given the gift of the charism of Mary Frances Clarke. The charism is at the heart of what it means to be an associate today. In becoming associates, we commit to live out the charism of being free and helping others enjoy freedom in God’s steadfast love. It requires a circle of friends to support us and a life of prayer to guide us.

Through prayer and moments of contemplation, we discern the path forward. We move forward unitedly into a future filled with possibility. We journey to where we have not gone before, open to the future, dependent on one another and on the one who has called us into life.

And together we pray:
Take, oh take us as we are.
Summon out what we shall be.
Set your seal upon our hearts,
And live in us.


Fifty Years Young: The Then, Now, And Future Of BVM Association
by Associate Norm Freund

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