Sisters of St. Joseph of CarondeletMay 27, 2020

Sisters' Stories

Sister Betty Giarrusso, CSJ

Since I entered the Sisters of St. Joseph in 1967, I have been surprised by God many times, in many ways! Experientially, I had the privilege of serving in the Albany Province as provincial councilor and regional director from 1986-1994. Those years of ministry were humbling, grace-filled, challenging and life-giving. My experience of leadership was embraced by three province directors. I had experience with others in identifying and utilizing the values and processes of collaborative leadership. Also, it was during those years that I had the wonderful opportunity to get to meet, work and interface with our sisters from the other units of the congregation.

Previous to my ministry in community administration, I served in the creation of a Catholic Charities office that was ecumenical in support and served an urban, rural and suburban geographic area. Collaborative skills were key in the birth and continuation of that human service agency.
I see the leadership role as paralleling that of a conductor of a symphony orchestra. An excellent conductor does not have to know how to play all of the different instruments but does need to be familiar with all of the intricacies of the musical piece to be performed. It is the invitation of the conductor that calls forth the gifts of the skilled musicians in a timely manner, and that makes the difference between a good performance and one that is magnificent!
To enable you to know my story, a personal experience comes to mind. In the 1970s I ministered one summer in a home for pregnant young women. Eleven babies breathed life for the first time that summer. One of the babies was born on my birthday. I was with the mother in the labor room when the doctor came to check on her. In that profound moment, I had the awesome experience of seeing the crown of the baby’s head! At that time, it was hospital policy that I was not able to be with the mother when she went to the delivery room. Deep down I wanted to see the baby born, but that was not my privilege to experience.
Today when I recall the birth of “Christ-in-me” it gives me great hope. We are living in a time of tremendous transition. It may not be our privilege to experience the fruits of the “new birth.” Our gift is to be the bearers of support and anticipation of the emerging new life.
On our beautiful planet is riddled with ravages of war, poverty, hunger and violence, and I believe there is a place for the Congregation of the Great Love of God, the Sisters of St. Joseph. At this moment in time, preferential option for the poor is not an option but an obligation. I agree with Mary Hunt, Ph.D. who states: ”We are being called to transform not tinker.” In recent months I have read different authors who believe that a new paradigm is needed for religious life. I like to think that our CSJ community, vowed members and associates, desire to be people of vision. Jonathan Swift writes: “Vision is the art of seeing things Invisible.” I believe that we are being called to live into the future fearlessly, loving freely, living simply and listening attentively, grounded in the belief that with God all things are possible.
Personally, I hope to be attentive to the stirrings of the Spirit and faithful to the Gospel call in following my personal life goal: “Live life passionately with a light grasp.” Amen!