There are many changes that came with Vatican II that have affected my life over these past 50 years in very good ways.  But there are two that I would like to mention now as especially important to me.

 The first one is interpreting the signs of the times in the light of the Gospel.   We started looking at Jesus in the Gospels in a whole new way.  We used to see ourselves as “the Church AND the world.”  Vatican II reminded us that we are “the Church IN the world.”  That called us out of the “monastery” into the REAL world where we were ONE in unity with the laity.  We saw Jesus wearing what others wore and going out among them in service.  So we dressed more simply and included  ministries that dealt with the signs of the times of our brothers and sisters in the world today.  And we knew we could not do it just by ourselves!  We needed the help of the laity.  So as time went on, we accepted Associates to walk with us and assist us in ministry.  What a gift Vatican II gave to us in giving us our Associates!

 The second “return to the sources” that Vatican II called us to was more participation, dialogue and collaboration.  In its emphasis on “the priesthood of all the baptized and the common responsibility for the life and mission of the church,” we were called anew to participation, authentic conversation and collaboration.  “WE are the Church” became a common phrase.  In our Congregation we started “Circles of Life” that called us to more dialogue and sharing.  We were ALL called to participate in decision making.  Instead of a top-down kind of obedience, we formed a CIRCULAR kind of living so we could listen to and respond to all our Sisters in working for the common good.  Again, we looked at Jesus in the Gospel who reminds us that leadership is NOT about power but about loving SERVICE to one another. 

While we may have a ways to go yet to really live out the calls of Vatican II, we have been blessed and graced in many ways.  Thank you to the Spirit who guides us in God’s Love!  
Sr. Mary Madonna Hoying, sfp



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