By S. Rose Raymond Wagner
A brief reading from the Prophet, Habakkuk, sets our direction today:
“Then the Lord answered me and said: Write down the vision
clearly upon the tablets so that one can read it readily.”
For the vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and
will not disappoint; if it delays, wait for it, it will surely come,
it will not be late.” (2-3)
“A (vision), a moment of transformation, comes when something inside
us shifts and we find that we are no longer the person(s) we used to be.
Our story is one in which each has grown from an individual of a respective
congregation to sisters of a new community. We look back in gratitude,
embracing all the blessings that have been ours since we responded to God’s
call to journey in this new way of being Franciscans. We continue our faith
journey in this renewed sense of our commitment.
What has been our story of transition, leading us to, today?
Nineteen years ago today, we celebrated our Founders’ Day, gathered at the
ON Center in Syracuse. There we stated:
“Let our communities be one. Let our
individual candles be extinguished.
Let us light the new fire of one united way
of being Franciscan women in our world.”
Thus, on July 11, 2004, the Sisters of St. Francis of Syracuse, Buffalo, and Hastings,
through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, St. Francis and St. Clare came together
as one new community – The Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities.
As we journeyed into our future, our flame became brighter as the Sisters from
Millvale merged with us in 2007. The flame continued to burn as several Sisters from
the Whitehall Community requested to leave their former community and become
one with us. During the process that formed the new congregation, the Franciscan
Missionary Sisters of the Divine Child merged with the Sisters in Williamsville and
became part of the new union.
Over these 19 years since our Founding Event, we have been writing and rewriting the
vision, lighting and extinguishing the light and lighting it again. Some of this has been
painful and much has been life-giving.
In the document of the Franciscan Neumann-Bachmann Heritage Congregations, it is written:,
“We, the Franciscan women of the Neumann-Bachman Heritage Congregations, live the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, sisters with one another and all creation. Our lives of continuous conversion and contemplation challenge us to be peacemakers, to strive for justice and to serve joyfully with the poor. We collaborate for the sake of the mission so that the witness of our evangelical life and ministry may extend to horizons we could not reach as individual congregations. We choose our preferred future in dialogue with one another.”
Perhaps we can also take inspiration and hope from the wisdom and words of our dear
Sister Marie Bernadette Wyman, now deceased, was inspired to write in 1998:
“In many ways our day, our time, is not the golden age of religious life if we concentrate on numbers, prestige, worldly power and concrete “advances.” But in the spiritual domain this may be our finest hour of faith: when we are purified by loss, by change, by struggle and by the weight of the unknown…”
Meanwhile, we continue to pray that the “vision” of which Habakkuk writes “will surely come, it will not delay.”