Dear Norwood-Fontbonne Community,
Today marks a special day for all of us in the NFA family. On this day, October 15th, we mark the 368th anniversary of the founding of the Sisters of St. Joseph in LePuy France. On that day six brave women left behind all that was familiar and safe to live lives of service. These women devoted themselves to “the practice of all spiritual and corporal works of mercy of which woman is capable and which will most benefit the dear neighbor.” Often we can lose sight of just how revolutionary and counter cultural that decision was. In a world where women were not empowered, they were powered by the Spirit to be servant leaders. The conditions and circumstances of the day were harsh, but they were courageous and found solidarity with those suffering and in need. That commitment created a legacy that eventually brought the congregation to Philadelphia which also required incredible faith and perseverance.
At Norwood-Fontbonne Academy each day we seek to further our mission as a sponsored ministry of the Sisters of St. Joseph. “We live and work so that all people may be united with God and one another.” Our immersive service learning and outreach program allow us to be the hands and feet of Christ in our world. All that we do and learn is within the context of our faith and informed by Catholic Social Teaching.
This past July, one of my first opportunities as the new president at Norwood-Fontbonne was to travel to Cleveland, Ohio, with Mrs. Peluso, Mrs. Finnegan, and Mr. O’Sullivan for “Spirits on Fire”, a week long kick off to a national formation program in the SSJ mission. A part of me felt I was going to learn more about the mission of the Sisters of St. Joseph, what I left with was the deeper realization that it’s the mission of all of us and it lives within us all. As Glinda shared with Dorothy, “You had the power all along, you just had to learn it for yourself!”
The mission of the sisters is their great gift to us and now the collective mission of our community. I think to an often quoted line from the Gospel of Luke, “Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required.” We are so very blessed at NFA as the benefactors of a proud legacy. It’s the promise we make to one another and the challenge we set for ourselves. We are blessed to share in the growth of our next generation who will carry this mission with them into the future.
Personally some of the greatest mentors in my life have been the incredible Sisters of St. Joseph who shaped my formation and inspired me to a vocation in Catholic education. Women who taught me tenacity, generosity, empathy, and that with hard work also needs to come a large dose of humor. The only way any of us can show our gratitude is to keep living the mission each day and be a light of hope in a turbulent world.
Happy Founders Day and God Bless!
Ryan Killeen, Ed.D.