Blessing of Ministries 2015

Blessing of Ministries 2015

What an inspiring reading this is from the Letter to the Hebrews (Hebrews 10: 24-25) and so appropriate for our Blessing of Ministries event this evening.

I would like to share with you my reflections on one term that is used in this translation, that I believe has strong meaning for us, for our community. The term is “hold fast”‒ as it was read in the first line of the Letter, “Let us hold fast to our profession, which gives us hope for the one who made the promise, deserves our trust….”

One of the first things that came to mind when I read this was the very well-known use of this phrase in Langston Hughes’ poem, “Dreams.” It is painted on the Tenth Street side of the Neighborhood Art House and the first line of that poem begins: “Hold fast to dreams...”

I discovered many synonyms for the term, all of which lead only to make it deeper and more telling for us today: stay the course, stick to firmly, remain tightly secured, bond.

These two short verses from Hebrews bring such a strong encouragement to the followers of Jesus‒then and now‒to remain committed to what we have already promised‒promised to God, promised to ourselves and promised to all of the people touched by our ministries.

And, isn’t that what our annual Blessing of Ministries commitment is about? Another year, another chance, another moment of recalling together what our dreams have been and still are to this day:

Teaching is our great love;
Social ministries of all kinds are where our gifts are well-used;
Religious education, coaching or afterschool programs are our calling;
Parish life drew us to that work;
Working “behind the scenes” in an office‒keeps things organized so that the outer face of a ministry can go on without those worries;
Administration, both in organizations large and small, is about the same good work;
Making music and sharing it strengthens celebrating everywhere;
Speaking, writing and sharing spirituality in many voices and venues touches the mind and heart.

There are so many good works and so much need, that any place we go, we can “hold fast” to our commitment, our profession, our dreams and make them continue to be our gift to the world.

But not only are we to “hold fast” to our promises, but we are to “rouse” and “encourage” each other and others to make their life a worthy one. “Try and leave this world,” as Robert Baden-Powell said, “a little better than you found it….”

I think we, as members of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie, have this unique privilege of ministry in two ways:

First, we minister as an individual, and
Secondly, we minister as a member of this community,

Both come with promises, professions and “good deeds” that we bring about individually and together.

For nearly 160 years we have been bringing our hopes, our efforts, and our compassion to the people of God through this particular Benedictine monastic community.

We are the descendants of those first sisters who held fast to their dreams. We are the inheritors of the commitments of the 262 sisters who have gone before us. We have been carrying on, in our own time, their ambitions, their visions, and their hopes for thirty, forty, fifty+ years.

In the words of former UN general secretary, Dag Hammarskjold, “When the morning's freshness has been replaced by the weariness of midday, when the leg muscles give under the strain, the climb seems endless, and suddenly nothing will go quite as you wish‒it is then that you must not hesitate.”

Let us hold fast; let us rouse each other and encourage one another in the tools of good works‒for we know that each day we are bringing the Good News of Jesus to our world.

Sister Anne Wambach, OSB, the twenty-first prioress of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie, Pennsylvania is a native of Philadelphia. She moved to Mount St. Benedict Monastery in 1992 to respond to a desire to experience the monastic way of life. Previously a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Chestnut Hill, Sister Anne began the formal transfer process to the Erie Benedictines in 1993 and made her monastic profession in 1997.

Sister Anne has served the people of the Diocese of Erie as a teacher at St. Gregory's School in North East, Pa., from 1992-1995, and at the Neighborhood Art House in Erie, beginning as program director in 1995 and as executive director since 2005. She served on the Monastic Council from 2006-2010.