Shaping the future to preserve OLVM’s footprint
By Sr. Mary Jo Nelson
OLVM President, 2016-2022
The work of mission integration is the work of passing on the charism, mission, values, and vision of the Victory Noll Sisters. It is our work of passing on our legacy with the men and women who are not vowed members of the congregation, but nevertheless collaborate with us in the mission of God. Each congregation has a particular footprint of the gospel in which it shapes its life –its spirituality, its style of community, and its style and approach to ministry.
The particular footprint of the Victory Noll Sisters has been to go to the edges, where people are not being served by the structures of the church. Throughout our almost 90 years of missionary service in the United States we never built or staffed a school or college; we never built or staffed a hospital; but what we did do was to go to those unseen places where people were forgotten, where there was no leadership, or very few services and resources. We went to be with people and live among them. We were catechists; we were home healthcare workers; we were social workers; and, we were pastoral workers. Whatever gift and skill we brought, we also brought a huge dose of creativity, initiative, and determination to empower people to be their own leaders, advocates, and to be church. Each Victory Noll Sister has stories and memories of going and leaving…of building leadership gifts, of advocating for justice, peace and the integrity of creation, of walking with children, young people, and adults in their search for God and meaning. In whatever we did, wherever we journeyed, we were clothed in two values … always to have a heart for the poor, and to proclaim the presence of God in every dimension of life.
In the past we left our legacy through our individual ministries, and the way we collaborated with dioceses and parishes. One important legacy we have left is the development of catechetical ministry and the formation of catechists and catechetical leaders throughout the United States. We were also instrumental in the beginnings of the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress.
With the changing demographics of our congregation, we are challenged to find a way to pass on our legacy in new ways. In the past, Sisters passed on the Victory Noll footprint of the gospel; now, we must expand our horizon to pass on our charism through those who may never be vowed members of the congregation. The key question is: how do we find new and creative ways to pass on our passion for justice, our passion for walking with the poor, our passion to be with people in their journey with God, our passion to develop leaders for the future?
One way to do this, is to invite all those who collaborate with us into a more conscious and meaningful partnership with us. In the next couple of years we will be inviting all Sisters, associates, lay missioners, co-workers, volunteers, benefactors, board members, colleagues in sponsored ministries to deepen their understanding of the Victory Noll charism, mission, values, and vision, so that they can be the Victory Noll footprint of the gospel in the future. This is the work of mission integration. It is important because the charism and footprint of the Victory Noll Sisters is a gift for the Church. It is not a private gift for us Sisters.
The shape and texture of this gift may look very different in the future. However, it is imperative that we, the Victory Noll Sisters, find creative and sustainable ways to pass on our particular footprint of the gospel to those who are our partners in the mission of God.
The term legacy has a couple of meanings…
1) The life, meaning, value, contribution of each member in the congregation. The Sisters pass on the charism, mission and values through their very life in the mission of God.
2) Through the corporate financial contributions the congregation gives to ministries, causes, or needs that reflect the charism, mission and values of the congregation. This is accomplished through the on-going mission formation and board development of our boards and through the Corporation Board and Community Support Trust Board who will implement the legacy plan of Our Lady of Victory Missionary Sisters.