A call to leadership – a letter from our Provincial President

From Sr. Rita Ostry, Provincial President of the Notre Dame Sisters

We are are celebrating the call to leadership – a call to service. As I reflect on this call, I turn to Jesus who models for us a way of leadership as service. He often said I came not to be served but to serve – to serve in essence is to be attentive to others. What kind of spirit does it take to be a servant leader? For me the words of Micah describe very well that spirit – to act justly, to love tenderly and to walk humbly with God. It is living with God’s spirit guiding and directing my thoughts and actions. Living in this spirit takes time to be reflective, to ponder, to pray, and to come to see the world as God sees the world – good, beautiful, and sacred. It requires creating an attitude of kindness, respect and acceptance of others and all of creation. This involves listening with the heart, seeing with the heart and understanding with the heart. Listening with the heart — being able to hear the other with compassionate openness without immediately judging or refuting. Seeing with the heart — respectfully reverencing those situations may not always be what seems obvious. Understanding with the heart – accepting that life is filled with the unexpected and most often people are really trying to do the best they can each day.

Acquiring this Spirit of Jesus is not something one can say is completed or achieved. Rather it is a call to continual, creative transformation, responding to the needs and concerns of the time and growing in the awareness of a global relationship that we are all connected. It is investing our passion and life into continuing God’s dream of bringing new life to others and living in unity and harmony with one another. It is a life-time endeavor of realizing and allowing the power of the Spirit to work in and through us. As we heard in the gospel reading we are to be aware of circumstances that call us to service. The apostles were very concerned that the people needed to be sent home to get something to eat Jesus reminds them “feed them yourselves” a call to be of service. The apostles were to nourish the people. There are many ways people long for nourishment today. It can be with bread when they are hungry, it can be by spending time with someone who needs to talk or taking time to learn and understand people who are different from us longing to be accepted, it can be a simple greeting of hello, good day or how are you.

The call to service is also about acting justly, working together to change unjust systems that cause suffering and disempower people. It can be advocating with those who need adequate housing, just wages or safe working environments, it can be assuring that the dignity and basic human rights of all people are respected, it is being welcoming to the stranger and those fleeing desperate situations. Basically, our lives are a call to attentiveness to what is happening around us, being a caring presence to those we meet and taking the lead to serve so that the common good of all can flourish. May we all join in the journey of servant leadership bringing new life, hope and love to others each day.