Celebrating Together

By Kai Marks, Associate

Like Julie Billiart, we have many reasons to celebrate the Congregational Feast Day on February 2: the Sisters renew their vows, the Associates renew their commitments, and the Associate candidates begin their journey as Associates—all of us understanding from God that we have been called to an experience of holiness.

There is something uniquely special about renewing vows and commitments together in the glow of candlelight, surrounded by one another, by friends and family, by beautiful music, and by the presence of God and Julie.

Each year, the candidates’ personal stories draw us closer together because the words they share not only allow us to know them and connect to them more deeply—their stories also illuminate for us what is and has been sacred in our own journeys as Associates. We see and feel, in a palpable way, what it means to be a “light in the world,” and we reflect the light we see in one another.

It is a joy to welcome new members to our Associate community. No matter how disparate our life experiences may be, each of us knows what it is to have been called by the holy spirit. While we may not have the words to adequately describe it—such experiences are beyond language—we know beyond a shadow of a doubt when we have been called.

And yet another experience we share is the challenge of balancing the interior call of the Holy Spirit with the demands of the outside world.

No doubt Julie knew this experience, too. In one of her letters, she wrote, “I am all yours, while running all over the place.”

I suspect many Associates find themselves running every day. Our fast-paced culture gives us little time to reflect or to be still in the presence of the good God. But blessed by the warmth of community and the fire of commitment, we come together for one evening to be faithful to what we have been called to do. We set aside time. We enter into the timeless tradition of all who came before us. We cast aside our busy schedules to witness the divine in ourselves and in each other.

Our Feast Day Celebration is a night unlike any other in the calendar year. I wouldn’t miss it for the world—literally or figuratively.

What a wonder. What a joy.