Photo taken by Therese Carroll rsj. Rangitoto Island near Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand.

Written for World Day for Consecrated Life which is on the feast of the Presentation of the Lord – 2 February 2023.

Recently, nine Sisters of Saint Joseph gathered at Mission Bay, Auckland, in Aotearoa New Zealand. We sought to respond to God’s call, “Enlarge the space of your tent, spread out your tent cloths unsparingly, lengthen your ropes and make firm your pegs”. [Is 54:2]

Across these four days we were dedicated to conversations in ‘Circle’* leadership which created a space where we committed to the crucial importance of listening to each other and God’s movement within ‘our Josephite tent’.

As women of hope, we experienced a broad and deep conversion of attitudes and hearts, as well as a willingness to face the realities of a call to consecrated life in contemporary times. It revealed compassionate hearts receiving each other’s unique gifts witnessing God’s love.

We recommitted to the call to live with Josephite hearts with passion as we felt the challenges of being prophetic witnesses of God’s love. We shared our beliefs that our Congregation and this Josephite life continues to exist because that is God’s desire to act in humanity through our charisms and ministries. We are women giving, receiving and being love in a hurting world.

Circle* is a form of endlessness, continuation, calming down, pacifying. In a circle, there’s no beginning or end—once you’re in the circle, you’re there participating in wholeness. Nobody is superior, no one is better than anyone else. We sit together in our difference, in one nice, round, shape. [1]

In embracing our vulnerability, we remembered the ancient practice of ‘circle’* and the promise of connection, as we discovered the emerging meaning of religious life today. We reimagined God’s call to greater appreciation and new possibilities for enriching and learning from each other. We experienced a shift into an awareness that there are deeper ways of collaborating that we have not yet imagined. We recommitted to working together to achieve this.

New horizons are calling us to reimagine religious life courageously, and to discover fresh ways of knowing how to encounter each other in healing and wholeness. Consecrated life demands our whole life, to be love in those places in our world where people feel despair or lack of meaning.

We returned to our local communities and now take fresh courage acting ‘as if’ we are this new imagining of God’s love in our world.

Sr Therese Carroll rsj
Convenor, Congregational Immersion and Discernment of Call


[1] Margaret Wheatley, Foreward in Baldwin, C., & Linnea, A. The Circle Way, 2010, Berrett-Koehler Publishing, x.