Franciscan Sisters Gather in NYC for Retreat Day

Rebecca Doel Around the Province

NEW YORK — Eighty-seven sisters from various communities in the metropolitan New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania areas gathered for a retreat day last month in San Damiano Hall on West 31st Street here. The event was sponsored by the Center for Franciscan Spirituality and Spiritual Direction at St. Francis of Assisi Church.

The Nov. 14 retreat, themed “What Keeps Us Going: A Retreat Day for Sisters,” began with a prayer service led by Sr. Meg Holden, Franciscan Sister of Peace and associate director of the center. The day also included a reflection on spirituality for sisters today given by Sr. Mary Petrosky, FMM, and a panel discussion composed of sisters from various stages and forms of religious life: pre-novitiate, junior professed, contemplative and semi-retired, according toTony LoGalbo, OFM, the center’s director.

Sr. Margaret Carney, OSF, gave the keynote address, reflecting on the apostolic visitation for the sisters of New York City. In her conclusion, the St. Bonaventure University president acknowledged the mixture of emotions many sisters feel toward the Vatican intervention including depression, anxiety, cynicism and fear. 

She shared an insight that gives her “profound hope.” In the days following Sept. 11, 2001, as bodies were being carried out of the rubble at the World Trade Center, Sr. Margaret watched. “As each body was carried up and out, that dust-covered honor guard, those men — almost to a person — made the sign of the cross,” she said. “Each time I saw that, I thought of you — the sisters (and brothers) of the Church in New York. … All of those lessons imparted over the years were made visible, made incarnate each time that heart-breaking procession took place.”

Sr. Margaret added that the visitation “will appear tragic if only for its failure to realize that we have given our lives to bring about within this Church the amazing grace we saw on (Sept. 11) and the days after. My hat is off to you, my heart genuflects to you — religious of New York, New Jersey and beyond — for you are the Cause of the Joy, you are the Seat of that Wisdom, you are and have been, for thousands, the Gate of Heaven.”

On Dec. 11, Sr. Margaret will be in San Damiano Hall again, speaking at a reception for alumni and friends of St. Bonaventure.

 Rebecca Doel is communications coordinator for the Province.