By Mary Jo Mersmann and Chanin Wilson
In her discernment paper to become a Sisters of Charity Associate, Chanin Wilson wrote, “During my discernment, I have gotten to know Mother Seton and the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati. I am struck by the connections between us. Elizabeth’s struggles with raising children, and the Sisters inclusiveness to all.”
So, when she applied to become the Community’s director of Associates, it seemed a natural fit. Mary Jo Mersmann retired on May 31, 2017, after 15 years as director of Associates. Chanin stepped right into that role and took over leadership of the 203 Associates in collaboration with the newly appointed regional representatives and the Associate Advisory Committee.
In January 2017 seven Associates had been invited to share their leadership skills and to get to know more personally the Associates in their “region.” These regional representatives participate in Zoom meetings every other month with the director and communicate regularly with Associates. “This change was meant to help Associates get to know one another better,” said Wilson, “and it seems to be working well.” Associates in the Dayton area are meeting more regularly; Florida has three candidates in formation; and Alaska continues to grow the Associate program despite the fact that S. Delia Sizler has returned to Cincinnati.
At the Congregational Retreat in June 2017, these same regional representatives met one another in person and were introduced to the Motherhouse with its lovely spaces and beautiful grounds. “Until you are in this holy space, it is difficult to truly understand to what you are committing,” said Associate Destiny Sergeant of Juneau, Alaska, and the Northwest Regional Rep.
“Our little group has formed a bond that is so important to the future of Associates. We support one another, bounce ideas off one another and share our difficulties and successes,” said Carmen Ferguson of Cincinnati, Ohio, and Tri-State Regional Rep.
Throughout the year, three new Associates made their commitments and two made lifetime commitments. Lifetime Associate and Methodist deaconess Kay Clifton wrote in her discernment, “One of the persisting kingdom moments that engulfs me is knowing that we have the same God (although we have different beliefs) and that a church woman is a church woman is a church woman – beautiful as roses.” As the new of director of Associates, Wilson is getting to know the beautiful people in the Charity Family one beautiful rose at a time.
As we move forward awakening to the mystery of this time, it is exciting to be trying something new by having our director of Associates living in the West while visiting the Motherhouse on a regular basis. The Sisters of Charity have always been willing to “try new things.”
“I have my dream job, and with today’s technology and regional representatives, we can overcome the miles between us, continuing to strengthen our Charity Family relationships,” Wilson said.