The most consequential changes in the human spirit come in the form of transitions, those life-altering periods that catch us off-balance for a time, cause us to question what we thought we knew, then nudge us to look for more meaningful markers on the journey and begin a new phase of life’s adventure. Without a doubt, they keep us guessing, but they can also get us trusting God and others in a new way.
With the digital revolution, the book and music industries, from creation to completion, are morphing at a dizzying pace. More than ever before, this flux defies us to anchor the direction of our mission on any permanent ministry—or form of carrying out our mission—a fact that challenges us on every level. Actually, if you’ve been involved in ministry for any extended period of time, you’ve noticed that the entire Church is experiencing much the same thing, to one degree or another. We are all in transition.
This has meant closing some of our locations in recent years, always a painful decision—for us as much as for the people we serve. We’ve received some touching letters from these men and women. I’d like to share excerpts of a few from Edison, NJ, which we closed a little over a year ago. They demonstrate how gracefully people can enter into the rocky process of transition, making way for something new:
“It is with joy that I every day I remember in prayer each of you sisters, your families and all with whom you minister. Mary and I were privileged to be the first Cooperators in Edison. Perhaps you remember that an abortion clinic was attempting to open in the Wick Plaza around the same time; the township didn't grant them a permit. I find it most interesting that people were planning to take life in the Wick Plaza and you sisters brought the Author of Life Himself to take up residence.
“The French have a saying, ‘When two people separate, each takes a part of the other and they are united forever.’ Dear sisters, you can be certain that Mary and I will take good care of the parts of each of you as gift and blessing that remain with us. God bless each of you and may your community be blessed with many new vocations.”
Mary & Jim Varick
“One woman told how years ago she was helped so much by our staff while she was being received into the Church. ‘Ever since then, my friends & I always get each others’ presents from here.’ One of the children who used to come for all our children’s events is now thinking about religious life. In the 1990s, Deacon Sam did much of his preparation for the diaconate using resources from our Center. Now he’s in charge of the diaconate program, and 29 new deacons will be ordained this year! The seeds of the Gospel planted through our service will indeed bear fruit for years to come!”
Sr. Karen Marie Anderson, FSP, former manager
The following person ritualized a farewell in the form of a prayer:
Thank you for this Pauline Book & Media Store. Eleven years ago I came here with many questions and wandering in a desert – not knowing where to go. Through your guidance, early Church Fathers, and Sister Laura’s patience & encouragement – your grace led me to the Catholic Church. Bless the sisters in their new journey. Amen!
Thanksgiving – The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away – You, dear friends of St. Paul, will be so missed. God bless you.”
A new year is a natural moment to step back and reassess our life’s direction. Pray for the Daughters of St. Paul during these transitions--we'll pray for you in yours--and let us hear your ideas.