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Associate relationship consists of a mutual relationship between vowed religious and lay people who share a common spirituality and seek to support and challenge each other. Various forms of associate relationship can be found from the early middle ages to the present. Since Vatican II the number of religious communities sponsoring associate relationships has grown exponentially
Associates are Christian women and men, 21 years or older, who usually have worked closely with the sisters or have known them well. In several cases, couples have become associates. At right, Associates Ric and Cathy Schmidt (far right) are pictured at their recommitment celebration with Associate Co-director Jill Ardis (far left) and Associate Sylvia Gear.
The emergence of associate relationships reflects Vatican II’s recognition that all baptized people are called to holiness. Lay people have often felt a spiritual hunger that parish life alone does not satisfy. Religious have often desired to share their spirituality with others who are not called to vowed life. Thus congregations developed a process for lay persons to join them in embracing their spirituality and mission. Both vowed religious and lay people have experienced associate relationship as a means of deepening their relationship with God and living faithfully the Gospel.
Individuals who are attracted to the spirituality and mission of the Sisters of St Francis of Assisi apply to become associates. The applicant and three people who know them well complete forms stating why they believe that associate relationship would be mutually beneficial to the individual and the community.
Co-Directors – Office of Associate Relationship:
Sr. Ann Kelley and Associate Jill Ardis – AssociateRel@lakeosfs.org
Associates Gather for Commitments, Recommitments
Associates from Lowell, Massachusetts, pictured here, came together on June 25 for the first commitment of Damian Deneault and Netchie Patterson-Sampson, and the renewal commitments of Elizabeth Conlon, Elizabeth Klamka and Colette Langlois.
The ceremony evolved in the context of midday prayer, signaling that God is good. Sister Diana De Bruin, director of the congregation, echoed Francis’ words: “The Most High revealed to me that I should live according to the Holy Gospel. . .” Associates follow Francis to Christ with the same desire to live the Gospel in their daily lives and through their ministries.
The prayer called “Intercessions,” written by Associate Mary Carian, provided meaningful reflection. Before leaving the celebration, the gathering enjoyed traditional Franciscan hospitality, including a buffet lunch, provided by Priscilla LeBlanc. After pictures and interaction with family and friends, the group moved on with the challenge, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
An Upper Room Experience
Twenty-three associates, sisters and OSF friends gathered in “the upper room” at Clare Hall on the eve of Pentecost to share in a morning of retreat. The focus was on the experience and celebration of the presence of the Risen Christ. Four resurrection scripture passages were the basis of two presentations by Sister Ann Kelley and Associate Irene Senn. Retreatants joyfully entered into the opening prayer as they begged Christ to “Easter” in them. Each participant had time for private prayer and reflection followed by faith sharing in small groups. The Spirit truly moved within the community gathered for the day as they prayed about the surprises of the Risen Christ and the assurance needed on the journey of faith. Letting oneself be found by Christ and passing on the gifts to “feed his sheep,” were also sub-themes of the retreat. The experience concluded with a relaxing meal provided by the kitchen staff of Clare Hall. (Pictured above are the associates who participated in the retreat.)