Q & A with Sr. Sue Mosteller

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  1. Q & A with Sr. Sue Mosteller

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    “Q & A with Sr. Sue Mosteller, on the ‘school of life’ at L’Arche Daybreak”

    by Dan Morris-Young

     

    When Sue Mosteller graduated from high school in 19­­52 and entered the Sisters of St. Joseph in Toronto, Canada, little could she have realized that 20 years later her life path would merge with that of the then nascent L’Arche Movement.

    Founded in 1964 when college professor Jean Vanier welcomed two men with disabilities into his home in Trosly-Breuil, France, L’Arche today is an international federation of homes and programs to support persons with intellectual disabilities. It operates 154 communities in 38 countries.

    Now 85, Mosteller began her work with L’Arche in 1972 at L’Arche Daybreak community in Toronto, which will mark its 50th anniversary this year, including a March 5 premiere of an original play at the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts near Toronto, “Journey to the Greatest Gift.” The stage production portrays how persons of differing intellectual, social, religious and cultural backgrounds can live and learn together.

    Working closely with Vanier, the Ohio native would hold several top leadership positions in the worldwide federation over four decades. She would become a friend and confidante of the late Fr. Henri Nouwen, well-known Dutch theologian, spiritual writer and educator who lived the last 10 years of his life at Daybreak. Only after his death did Mosteller learn that Nouwen had named her executrix of his literary estate.

    In 2012 she returned to the Sisters of St. Joseph convent in Toronto where she now volunteers with the Henri Nouwen Legacy and with Nouwen’s archival collection at the University of St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto. Mosteller, a sought-after speaker and retreat leader, has published three books, the most recent: Light Through the Crack: Life After Loss. She spoke recently with Global Sisters Report.

    GSRYou have been involved in L’Arche since its earliest days. Please share core observations on what you have learned and experienced.

    Mosteller: I would say I couldn’t have asked for more with respect to the kind of life that I chose and wanted. It has been wonderful, difficult, fantastic and amazing. I wanted to become as fully human as I could, and I wanted to grow in my humanity and in my spirituality. L’Arche really was an answer to that, although of course I didn’t know that early on. It has been a place of deepening and expanding my insights and my sense of the gospel, as well as transformational for my heart. I really had a lot to learn about loving more broadly. I had to keep growing, and learning to work with conflict, new growth, and resistance, and all kinds of things. Thankfully, I had tremendous mentors along the way, with a lot of support both from my congregation and the wise people in L’Arche. I have been very fortunate.

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  2. The Ministry of Absence

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    “Why Henri Nouwen warned Pastors about becoming “too available.”

    by Stephen L. Woodworth

     

    [Reprinted in part from CHRISTIANITY TODAY, September 2018]

    The phone call came in well past my normal office hours. My children were already in bed, and the house was quiet. I didn’t recognize the number, but pastors know from experience that late-night calls should almost always be taken. The voice on the other line was urgent. A distraught mother had discovered that her teenage daughter had become sexually active with her boyfriend.

    “Will you come over and meet with us?” she asked. “In the morning,” I replied, “I can meet you tomorrow morning.” Dissatisfied, the mother doubled-down on her request, reiterating the severity of her daughter’s revelation and the imperativeness of my presence. “I need you to come tonight,” she pressed. “If you would still like to meet tomorrow, please give me a call,” I responded, and politely ended the call.

    “Pastor, I need to meet with you.” For those of us in pastoral ministry, a week seldom passes when those words are not uttered to us. In the opinion of many, this is the central aspect of our calling: to be present when they need us. To be there when tragedy strikes, or conflict erupts, when illness descends, or heartbreak occurs. We meet with them in our offices, at hospitals, around dining room tables, or over coffee. We meet with them at all hours and on any given day. Especially for solo pastors who don’t have the luxury of sharing the pastoral load, even vacation time is interruptible as the pastor is forced to rush home in time to deal with a sudden emergency. This is an unquestionable part of the job description for many pastors, an aspect of our calling we agreed to when we first signed up for duty. But is it healthy? Or more importantly, is it biblical? I am concerned that these calls for our constant presence are often intimately connected with two inordinate needs that deserve honest questioning: our parishioners’ desire to be in the presence of a surrogate Jesus, and the desire for pastors to be one.

    Click here to read the full story.

  3. Voices for Peace | National Catholic Reporter

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    “Toronto Conference Explores
    Christian Tradition of Peacemaking”

    by Cassidy Hall | National Catholic Reporter

    Over 100 veterans and newcomers to the peace movement gathered April 28 in Toronto for a daylong conference covered in prayer, music, poetry, readings and speakers. “Voices For Peace” began with a film about the International Indigenous Youth Council at Standing Rock and then offered a deep-dive into the Christian tradition of non-violence, resistance and peacemaking.

    The event included sessions exploring contemplation and action, dreaming, nuclear disarmament, nonviolent action, the economy of weapons and numerous other topics related to peacemaking. It was bookended by a seemingly unlikely pair: 76-year-old author and peace activist Jim Forest and 35-year-old, Juno award-winning, hip-hop artist Shad K.

    The conference was sponsored by Toronto’s Church of the Redeemer, The Henri Nouwen Society, Citizens for Public Justice and The Basilian Center for Peace and Justice.

    “What brought us here today?” Forest asked in his opening lecture, “In my own case, I’ve been thinking about war and peace since I was 8 or 9 years old. I’m now 76. How surprising it is to have reached such an age. In my twenties, I thought it very unlikely that I’d live to be 30.”

    The audience laughed until Forest interrupted.  

    “Anticipated cause of death: nuclear war,” he said. “By the skin of our teeth we have lived with nuclear weapons without their being used in war since 1945 — 73 years.”

    Forest is best known by way of his friends: Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day, Dan Berrigan, Thich Nhat Hanh, Henri Nouwen and many more. He told participants that he went to the university of Dorothy Day and recounted numerous stories and times with all of these well-known friends who have been so central to his peacemaking work. He is the former editor of the Catholic Worker, co-founder of the Catholic Peace Fellowship and the author of more than 10 books.

    Click here to read the full story.

  4. “Voices For Peace” – National Catholic Reporter

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    “Toronto conference explores Christian tradition of peacemaking”

    May 9, 2018 | by Cassidy Hall

    TORONTO — Over 100 veterans and newcomers to the peace movement gathered April 28 in Toronto for a daylong conference covered in prayer, music, poetry, readings and speakers. “Voices For Peace” began with a film about the International Indigenous Youth Council at Standing Rock and then offered a deep-dive into the Christian tradition of non-violence, resistance and peacemaking.

    The event included sessions exploring contemplation and action, dreaming, nuclear disarmament, nonviolent action, the economy of weapons and numerous other topics related to peacemaking. It was bookended by a seemingly unlikely pair: 76-year-old author and peace activist Jim Forest and 35-year-old, Juno award-winning, hip-hop artist Shad K. 

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  5. Doctoral Program in Spiritual Formation

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    Are you interested in continuing your MDiv or Theological studies? If so, you may be interested to learn about the Nazarene Theological Seminary’s Doctor of Ministry program. Of interest to Henri Nouwen readers is that the program features two courses focusing on Nouwen’s approach to spiritual formation.

    The Doctor of Ministry Degree is a professional degree. Students interested in the Doctor of Ministry program can expect to develop further in their professional practice. Further, they will make important contributions to their field of practice.

    The Spiritual Formation and Discipleship track engages seekers who desire to deepen their journey of personal transformation for the sake of spiritual renewal in their communities. Students will explore diverse approaches to formation and how they can be contextualized in various settings. Dr. Michael Christensen and Dr. Rebecca Laird are involved in leading this track. Michael and Rebecca were popular guest speakers at our Way of the Heart conference in Toronto last year — and are featured presenters at our upcoming Revolution of the Heart conference at the University of San Diego on February 9-10, 2018.

    For more information on the Doctor of Ministry program and admission requirements, click here.

    Dr. Rebecca Laird

    Dr. Michael Christensen

  6. We Don’t Need More Data, We Need Mystery

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    by Christian Crook [re-posted in part from Huffington Post]

    Last summer I attended a talk by Esther de Waal, a foremost scholar in the Benedictine and Celtic traditions, where I heard her boldly say: “I don’t want more investigative journalism, what I want is mystery.”

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    We’ve just stumbled out of weeks that have baffled and horrified us. A torrent of factual and “alternative news” has filled our newsfeed while Instagram has continued to churn out perfectly curated photographs, (scheduled in Hootsuite, no doubt, weeks ago.) We are all sifting through a sea of data, advertising and misinformation seeking clarity, searching for answers.

    In a similar time of upheaval, more than 50 years ago, a newspaper posed the question, ‘What’s Wrong with the World?’ Catholic thinker G. K. Chesterton reputedly wrote a brief letter in response:

    ‘Dear Sirs: I am.’

    Mystery.

    Chesterton understood the immense capacity of the human heart: a mysterious well capable of deepest compassion and incomprehensible evil.

    It’s evil we’ve seen in these days.

    In the wake of the U.S. executive order on immigration, we’ve seen the poem from the Statue of Liberty – for decades a symbol of American immigration – shared all over social media: “Give me your tired, your poor / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” The poem was written by a Jewish woman, American poet and essayist Emma Lazarus (1849-1887,) drawing inspiration from her Sephardic Jewish heritage and her work on Ward’s Island helping refugees detained by immigration authorities.

    “Wherever there is humanity, there is the theme for a great poem,” she once said, according to the Jewish Women’s Archives.

    Mystery.

    (To read the article in its entirety, click here.)

  7. Henri Nouwen: The Catholic Priest Who Embraced His Demons

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    “In our woundedness, we can become sources of life for others.”  — Henri Nouwen

    Henri Nouwen was a renowned Catholic priest, author of numerous books, and beloved confidant to many troubled souls. He was a professor at Yale Divinity School and Harvard Divinity School, but went on to live in community with people with mental and physical disabilities at the L’Arche Daybreak community in Richmond Hill, Ontario.

    “When Nouwen talked, it was like someone talking into your own ear with the language of the heart — simpler, more direct, talking about his weaknesses but not being exhibitionistic,” recalls Ronald Rolheiser, Catholic priest and author.

    Fred Rogers, the creator and host of the hit kids’ series Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, said that Nouwen taught him to “grow into a thoughtful person who cares about the essentials of life.”

    (To read the article in its entirety, click here.)