The seven sisters who make up the Felician leadership team visited the Buffalo Diocese to meet and share news with their fellow sisters. The leadership team presented the latest happenings throughout the North American province to some 140 sisters at Villa Maria Convent in Buffalo in January.
"It gives us a chance to get everybody in the same room at the same time," said Sister Mary Christopher Moore, CSSF, provincial minister of the Felician Sisters of Our Lady of Hope Province, which covers all of the United States and Canada.
Members of the team visited sisters on the outskirts of the diocese and Syracuse, while Sister Christopher and Sister Nancy Marie Jamroz, provincial vicar and first councilor, met with Bishop Richard J. Malone on Jan. 13.
Sister Christopher described it as a "very informal and very cordial meeting" where they discussed, among other topics, the New Evangelization and the recently established Felician mission in Haiti. Bishop Malone is on the board of directors for Catholic Relief Services, which serves the critical and immediate basic needs of developing nations. CRS has served in Haiti since 1954.
Bishop Malone told the sisters of his October visit to Villa Maria convent, where he met and prayed with the residents.
"We were very grateful for his affirmation and his support, which we will pass on to the sisters at Villa Maria," said Sister Christopher.
Although he had only planned a short time to spend with Sister Christopher and Sister Nancy Marie, the bishop allowed the meeting to run long.
The team spent the rest of their weeklong visit speaking to individual sisters about their ministries.
In November the Felician Sisters will celebrate 140 years of the first Felicians coming to America, specifically the tiny town of Polonia, Wis., to minister to Polish immigrants. Those five sisters branched out to form eight provinces. In 2009, those provinces merged to form one North American Province, known as Our Lady of Hope.
"I think the sisters, generally, appreciate why we did what we did, the need for it, that it has, in fact, made the province stronger. The sisters have made new friendships," Sister Christopher said, adding the merger went well.
"It was a big leap. I guess I could compare it in some way to the merger of the churches that are happening or even the merger of schools. There are challenges and difficulties. People find it hard to give up the way that things were done. We say that every province had its own culture, even though we're united by the fact that we're provinces of one congregation, we share the same rule of life, we share the same constitutions, we have a general leadership. It was easier than some experiences other sisters have had where they have had to suppress their own communities and join others."