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Historic Chapter Opens in Des Plaines, IL

Friday, Feb. 17 was a joyous and historic day for the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth (CSFN) in the U.S.  It marks the start of the first open chapter for Holy Family Province (U.S.), which was created in 2007 in the consolidation of the then five U.S. provinces of the CSFNs.

The sounds of frequent greetings and welcomes wafted through the hallways of the Des Plaines, IL, Provincialate, as sisters from around the country arrived for the opening weekend of the Chapter.  More than 60 sisters are participating in the Chapter this weekend – 18 elected delegates, two alternates and nine ex-officio members – the sisters on the current leadership team, including Sr. Sally Marie Kiepura, provincial superior. In addition to the delegates, sisters from across the Province will be able to participate in the Chapter by personally attending sessions throughout the year and/or by participating via Skype video or telephone conference calls.  Non-delegates will be able to provide input on the various issues considered in the Open Chapter. This also is the first time that CSFN novices will be able to be observers at Chapter sessions.

“Our technology committee did a fantastic job of setting up Skype capabilities in every one of our five areas,” according to Sr. Virginette Rypniewski, a member of the Chapter Steering Committee.  “Without the recent floods in Malaysia, we would have been able to do live feeds to all of our convents.”  The floods disrupted the supply chain for some of the necessary hardware, she noted.

This also is the first time that portions of a CSFN Provincial Chapter will be broadcast on YouTube and the web.  Click here for video from the opening prayer service of the 2012 Chapter

The Chapter Steering Committee began advance work on the chapter in 2011.  Sr. Barbara Jean Wojnicki, director of novices and a member of the committee, notes,  “As we worked together these past months as a steering committee, it has been our hope that the sisters would feel part of this chapter,” she notes “We spent time with the sisters in each area, gathered their input and took it very seriously,” she says. “As a result of that advance work, some of the systems and approaches to the Chapter were changed.”

“Chapter is the highest level of governance within the province,” says Sr. The Krause. “It is a time to dream a vision for the next six years, and to task the Province as a whole on how that vision can be accomplished.”

Members of the Steering Committee include Srs. Barbara Jean, Thea and Virginette, as well as Srs. Rita Fanning, Marita Ruppe, Malgorzata Majszczyk and Michele Vincent Fisher.  Sr. Janet Baker, RSM, is the Chapter Facilitator.

Photos by Sr. Gabriela Duszynska, CSFN

To ensure growth and an institutional openness to the call of the Spirit, all religious communities hold a chapter every four to six years.  During a chapter, delegates consider plans for the future; during a Chapter of Election, they also select a new leadership team.  Holy Family Province’s 2012 Open Chapter will hold weekend sessions in Pittsburgh; Grand Prairie, TX, and Philadelphia; nominees for leadership positions will spend a discernment weekend in Monroe, CT, in June.  Local chapters will be held in early August, and the closing session of the Chapter will be held in August in Des Plaines.  The new leadership team will be installed in January 2013. 

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