The number of poinsettia plants has dwindled. The trimmings are gone. The corner once graced by our creche scene looks pretty bare. Ordinary Time has arrived and will, by virtue of the calendar, be a bit longer this year. But that does not mean that the life of these contemplative nuns has returned to 'simple.' This Tuesday our community will have its triennial elections. Every three years, in accord with our Constitution and Statutes, a prioress, vicar (sub-prioress) and secretary are to be elected from among the nuns in the community who have professed solemn vows. For our monastery that means that nine nuns will be participating in the election; eight have sufficient years in solemn vows to qualify for the office of prioress. During these last weeks we have had a number of meetings in which, with the assistance of a professional facilitator, we have considered current realities, the gifts we individually offer to the community, and how we can best live out and promote the Redemptoristine contemplative charism.
Currently our prioress is Sr. Paula Schmidt. She could be re-elected for a second term of three years. Sr. Paula has served as prioress many times in her long life as a Redemptoristine nun. To do so is to give a great and generous gift to the community. The prioress, vicar and secretary compose the council for our monastery. They meet regularly to consider governance and make recommendations to the whole community for discussion and determination at regular meetings. This is a highly collaborative process in which individual nuns can petition the council; in which three voices on the council exchange points of view with each other; in which the total community is kept informed and has a voice in most decisions. This is the product of many years of effort on the part of wise leadership.
The election will be supervised as Canon Law requires by the Vicar for Religious of our Diocese. The Vicar also came to see us for an official pre-election Canonical Visitation a few weeks ago. Please pray that the grace and power of the Holy Spirit will penetrate our decision-making process.