Concordia congregation now includes 13 agrégée sisters

June 13, 2015 by

When the Sisters of St. Joseph were founded in France in the mid-17th century, two distinct forms of membership in the religious community developed: “City sisters,” who gathered in larger areas like Le Puy, and “country sisters” (or agrégée sisters) who lived and served in villages and throughout the most rural areas. That structure existed, and flourished, for nearly 150 years, until the French Revolution when religious communities were disbanded.

The Sisters of St. Joseph came back together in the early 1800s, but the autonomous small communities of “country sisters” had disappeared. It wasn’t until around 2004 that U.S. sisters researching their earliest roots realized that “agrégées” made up a distinct form of membership that had been recognized by the sisters themselves and the people they served as “real religious.”

The Concordia congregation approved a revitalized form of agrégée membership in 2006, and accepted the first two candidates, who would then become the first two modern agrégées: Sister Rosabel Flax of Ness City, Kan., and Sister Rosemary Foreman of Topeka.

On Saturday, the congregation welcomed Sister Denise Schmitz or Norton, Kan., and Sister Kathleen Stairs of Elizabeth, Colo., as the 12th and 13th agrégée sisters. The other agrégée sisters are living and serving in Kansas, Missouri, Colorado and Georgia. Another three women are agrégée candidates, in varying stages of the process of deciding if this form of religious life fits them and their spiritual needs.

Also on Saturday, Sister Christina Brodie was received into the community as a novice, which is her next step on the path to becoming a canonical sister.

Agrégée sisters are defined as women who commit themselves to active and inclusive love of God and the dear neighbor as expressed in the spirit and spirituality of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia. They are viewed as members of the congregation in almost every aspect, but there are a couple of significant differences:

  • “Canonically vowed sisters” profess the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, as defined by canon — or church — law. As part of the vow of poverty, an individual sister relinquishes all personal wealth and income; at the same time, the congregation assumes responsibility for her economic well being for the rest of her life.
  • “Agrégée sisters” profess a vow of fidelity to the congregation, but it is noncanonical, meaning that it is not governed by Church law and is instead a private vow between that sister and the Concordia congregation. It also means that the agrégée does not relinquish her finances to the congregation, and the congregation assumes no financial responsibility for her.

 

Comments

Feel free to leave a comment...