Founders Day

Founders Day

A Reflection by Sister Susan Hutchens, OSB

Last Sunday we heard the Gospel in Matthew 22:1-14, about the King giving a wedding feast for his son. Imagine Prince Charles throwing such a banquet for Prince William and no one bothering to come!  But the King wasn’t defeated – he just kept inviting, almost begging them to come, telling them how much he had prepared – that it was truly a feast they would not want to miss.  Again, no one went, and on top of it they killed his servants!    But he kept inviting others – anyone who would want to partake of his graciousness, even if they didn’t deserve it. 

The repeated invitation of the King is a striking image of God’s continual invitations to us to “come to the feast” of God’s love, acceptance, forgiveness, and the promise of a future full of hope. In the reflection on this Gospel by Richard Gaillardetz in Give Us This Day last Sunday, he referred to the appropriate wedding garment as a “heart open to conversion, a heart ready and willing to submit to a new order of gift and celebration, not scarcity and competition.” 

Sr. Marianne shared with me that this is also an image for us of God’s continuous invitation to our community over the past 146 years:  God keeps inviting us to the feast: first, when we were few and poor in the 1870’s and 80’s; then bursting with new sisters in the early 1900’s; then laden with debt from 1910 on; working hard, living frugally and trusting in God’s help from 1920 – 1939. Brimming with Sisters beginning in the 1940’s through 1960, we again built new buildings for monastery and school.  We pursued higher education for the Sisters and our monastic prayer life developed with the changes brought on by Vatican II. There was excitement in the community, only to be chastened for some time by the exodus of many members.  Again, God invited and new ministries emerged from 1970 to 1990. This was followed by the relinquishment of our primary ministry at St. Mary’s Academy, and by few vocations.  But God kept calling and we followed to Rock Island.

Each day we are called to a banquet of blessings and invited to come with open hearts, willing to trust God’s call and plan for us, and to hope patiently and faithfully.  God continues to call and to walk with us into an unknown future, even as God called Abraham, Mother Ottilia and our founding Sisters and so many others all the way throughout our own monastic history.

When we respond with open hearts and wait in joyful hope, love, and faith, for what is now unseen, and yet to be, we can live differently, always with open arms for each other, for the poor, for those placed in our care by God who calls us forward on this journey.  May we respond with gratitude and graciousness, daringly facing new ventures with courage and trust in the same way that our founders did 146 years ago. 

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