Thursday, May 16, 2019

President's Message at Assembly, May 15, 2019

This is my longest blog ever. However, I wanted to share with alumnae, parents, supporters and our many friends, not just the formal announcement of our transfer of the sponsorship of Resurrection College Prep to the Christian Brothers, but, also the heartfelt message I gave to the students, faculty and staff on Wednesday morning, May 15, 2019.  As I wrote this message, especially for all the present and past students, I prayed that God would help me put the message into words that resonate in the hearts of every Resurrection Sister who has ever been connected with Resurrection College Prep.  

After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, approached, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it. His appearance was like lightning and his clothing was white as snow.  The guards were shaken with fear of him and became like dead men.  Then the angel said to the women in reply, “Do not be afraid! I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified. He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ Behold, I have told you.” Then they went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed, and ran to announce this to his disciples.  (Matt. 28: 1-9)

This Easter Gospel reminds us that as humans we like certainty and fear change.  For the women in the gospel, meeting the angel at the empty tomb, and later the Risen Jesus, caused them to become fearful.   Suddenly, everything they thought they knew about life and death was torn apart and they were being asked to share that unbelievable message with the disciples. Yet, for them to see Jesus alive made their hearts beat fast with joy.  

How many of you have felt fearful and overjoyed at the same time?  Those of you who have made a Kairos Retreat did you have moments when you felt fearful as well as overjoyed?

Right now, as I stand before you, I feel just like the women did on Easter morning.  Right now, my heart is pounding and I am filled with fear, because of the message I am about to share with you.  But at the same time, I feel great joy because my message is one of life, opportunity and growth for all of us.

Cows from Sisters' farm crossing Talcott
First School

Let’s begin with a little review of history.  In 1900 the first Sisters of the Resurrection came to Chicago.  They came with a simple vision and dream:  to serve God and His people in whatever ways God would direct them.   In 1914 Sister Anne and the first Sisters bought several farms on Talcott.  Soon people from the neighboring communities came to the Sisters asking: “Please build us a school,” “please build us a hospital,” “please build us a retirement home,” and then “a nursing home,” the Sisters always worked hard and found a way to provide what the people needed. The dreams of the people became our dreams and the focus of our prayers and work.

The sisters worked on the farm growing vegetables and caring for chickens and cows.  They sold their produce to raise the money needed to build the first school.  

The first Resurrection High School opened in 1922. By the late 1950s a bigger school was needed, so the school we are in now was built. In 1962 when the first freshmen started classes in this building, I was among them.  I sat where you are sitting now, in this very gym.  And it was in this High School Chapel that I felt the call to become a Resurrection Sister. My mom and seven other relatives graduated from Res, so Res is very special to me. 

But what was very different in 1962 was that there were over 230 Resurrection Sisters in the Chicago Region. These Sisters served in Illinois and five other States as well as Vancouver Canada. Today, as you sit in this gym, there are only 24 Resurrection Sisters in the Chicago area, & our median age is 75.   This school is the last ministry we own in this region.

Realizing the importance of our ministries to the people on the North West side of Chicago we searched diligently to find another religious congregations or organizations to take over and care for our ministries and to give them the same love and commitment we have given them.

We found a home for our hospital, retirement center and nursing homes with Ascension Health, and that is proving to be a good thing.  

This High School is our oldest ministry in the USA.  During its almost 98 year history about 100 Resurrection Sisters committed their lives to serving as teachers & administrators at Resurrection College Prep.  Our love, our commitment to Resurrection, its staff and most of all to you its students runs deep in the veins and heart of each Sister.  

Three years ago, we realized that because there are so few of us, we needed to find someone else to take care of the school.  The Sisters, the Board and I could not imagine closing Resurrection. You amazing young women are the reason we began a three-year search to find some Religious Order to take over the ownership and sponsorship.  During this three-year period, I contacted Religious Orders in the Chicago Area, Indiana, Michigan, Tennessee, Ohio, Wisconsin, as well as National Educational Organizations & even a University.   No one could help us.  Every day, seeing how much you love Res I became more and more convinced that we had to find someone who would continue your school.  I felt like Joseph must have when he was searching for a place for Mary to give birth to Jesus.

You, young Res women, if you know it or not, you inspire us and gave us the drive to keep searching for a new sponsor.

Then in the spring of 2018 we began a dialogue with the Christian Brothers of the Midwest.  After meetings and conversations with the Christian Brothers we became convinced that we could not find a better prepared Congregation to take over the sponsorship and operations of Resurrection College Prep.  
Blessed Celine - Foundress
of the Sisters of the Resurrection

St. John Baptist De La Salle
Founder of Christian Brothers

Venerable Hedwig - Cofoundress
of the Sisters of the Resurrection

The Christian Brothers have over 300 years of experience and commitment to education.  The Christian Brothers are responsible for 65 universities and 1000 other schools across the world.  In the Midwest of the USA they have a strong presence and are well knownfor their commitment to quality education and the faith development of their students. In the Chicago area, the Christian Brothers sponsor St Patrick High School, De La Salle Institute, St Joseph High School (Westchester) and Montini Catholic High School (Lombard). Lasallian high schools in the Midwest are also located in St Louis, Memphis, Minneapolis-St Paul, Tulsa, and Cincinnati. In these Midwest schools, over 24,000 students are served and supported by 4,000 faculty, staff, and administrators.   

Now that I have gotten to know the Christian Brothers and their strong commitment to education, I am very impressed with their work and I trust them. Like the women at the empty tomb, I feel great joy.  This is a time of grace and transformation.  For us Sisters, yes, we are feeling sad at having to let go of something we love but it is a time of great joy because we know that we can leave this school, all of you students, faculty and staff in the care of a religious congregation that will not only care for you but who will grow Resurrection into greatness. The Christian Brothers’ worldwide experience will be a wonderful resource for Resurrection.

The Christian Brothers are committed to taking over the sponsorship or ownership of Resurrection College Prep and to operate this single gender girl’s school and as a Lasallian School with a Resurrection Heritage that continues to be recognizable to the almost 15,000 alumnae.  

The intent is for the Christian Brothers to begin sponsorship or management of Resurrection in Aug, 2019.   We, Sisters are over joyed that Resurrection can continue without us, and we are deeply grateful to the Christian Brothers and thank them for their willingness and their excitement about receiving and welcoming Resurrection College Prep into their Lasallian Family.  The Christian Brothers and their lay leadership are absolutely wonderful and they will provide you a new home and a strong and exciting future.  

So once again, the good news is that Resurrection is not closing, Resurrection is not merging with another school, but rather the Christian Brothers are welcoming Resurrection into the Lasallian Family.                  

St. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians speaks of one person being called to plant the seed, another to water it, and still another to reap the harvest.  Saint Paul goes on to say that all three are equal and are God’s co-workers.  But in the end, God is the one who causes the growth. 

This is what we celebrate today, God called the Sisters of the Resurrection to plant and now God is calling the Christian Brothers to continue watering the seeds.  But this field will always be God’s.  Both Resurrection Sisters and Christian Brothers are humbly God’s co-worker.  This is God’s work and He will bless it.   

So, like the women at the empty tomb we feel sadness and fear, but like the women we feel a lot more joy, peace and hope for a wonderful future for Resurrection.

We are all women of the Resurrection, right?  So, we don’t stand long by an empty tomb, do we?  Rather, like Mary Magdalene and the other women, we Resurrection Women open our hearts, look up and recognize the face of Christ calling us into new life. The God of Charity & Truth promises us that we will experience great joy because we know the TRUTH.  And what is the TRUTH?   God loves us & is always with us!  

On behalf of all the Sisters, let me assure you that the Sisters of the Resurrection will be your BFFs (did I get that text message right?).  We will always be proud of you, we will always love you, we will always support you with our prayers. 

In Charity & Truth,

Sister Donna Marie, C.R.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful and tender. Thank you for reminding us that the world can be gentle, kind, sensible and faithful. Pat Ahern