Envisioning the Future of Catholic Religious Archives: How Do We Transmit Charism to the Future?

By | September 5, 2019


Good afternoon. You have a couple of
institutional welcomes here before the content
that you’re all here for get started in a few minutes. I’m David Quigley, Provost
and Dean of Faculties here at Boston College, as well
as a professor in the history department. Really pleased
that so many of you were able to travel
across the country to be with us for
these three days for this critical conversation. In particular, I’m here to
extend an institutional welcome on behalf of Father William P.
Leahy of the Society of Jesus, Boston College’s 25th president,
who was a key part of planning for– imagining,
then planning for– and then supporting
this gathering. He was called over, as many
Jesuit educational leaders around the world were,
to a gathering in Deusto, Deusto University
in Bilbao, Spain. The Father, General,
and Jesuit leadership worldwide convened a group
of university presidents, as well as intellectual leaders,
in the Jesuit higher ed world to come together
for a conversation about the current state
and the future of Jesuit higher education
on a global stage. It’s a very interesting
companion piece to the conversations
playing out here. There are many reasons why
BC takes the work that you’re engaged in today and
on your home campuses and at your home
institution so seriously, partly because of that
Jesuit tradition going back 500 years– the rich history
and archival record that we are able to access,
although with some pretty important lacuna, some
disappeared archives over the centuries– that Jesuit tradition
certainly inclines us to take seriously
the work that you’re engaged in being here
in Boston, although I heard from a couple of people
that you’ve been pretty much rooted in the Robsham
Theater community for a couple of days now. But being here in
Boston, there’s an orientation towards
the past, towards thinking creatively and seriously
about what history means. I think, in particular,
one of the striking things about Boston College, one of the
reasons I found this to be such a welcoming home over
20 years, and now in my fifth year as Provost, is
I think we’re the only National University in the top
50 in rankings that has both the president
and a provost who are card-carrying historians. Father Leahy has a PhD in
American religious history. I have a PhD in
American urban history. One cannot tell those stories– for me, the 19th century,
for Father Leahy, the history of higher education
in faith-based settings– we cannot tell our histories
without the materials that you guard, that you shepherd, that
you steer into the future, that we cannot tell not only
those particular American stories, but the broader
national narrative without the rich collections that you’ve
helped to preserve and that you’re thinking seriously
about passing on as we go into the future. Boston College stands ready to
partner both within the Jesuit fold, as we’ve been
doing for many years, but with others arrayed around
the room and others who are not able to be with
us these few days to think about opportunities
for collaboration, for partnership, as
my colleague Tom Wall talk about in a moment,
for digitization, for other approaches
to making sure that that rich treasury, the
blessings of the past that have been passed down to
us, we’re able to pass on to those next generation
of individuals, teachers, researchers, scholars,
Catholic laywomen and men around the country
and around the world. There’s such a rich
history that goes back in the collections
represented around the room. And again, Boston
College is very eager to see what the outcomes of
these and related conversations are this year and
over the next few, and to think about how
we can work collectively for the greater good
of Catholic America and of the historic
record that we’re trying to pass down, bringing
new life to faith communities, to communities
around the country. So again, on behalf of
Father Leahy, my many faculty colleagues, Boston College
community as a whole, it’s great to have
you here today and we’re very much
looking forward to learning more
when we receive word of the outcome of some
of these conversations in coming weeks and months. At this point, let
me turn it over to a good friend, our
university librarian, who’s been here for 10 years,
who’s done a really terrific job working
with Christian Dupont, with the Burns collections, but
with so many of our facilities on campus, building
a team that is really thinking about the
future of the library as a resource for the university
community and the greater Boston public, and,
to some degree, the Jesuit community
on the global stage, in some powerful and
very imaginative ways. So let me turn it
over now to Tom Wall. Again, welcome. [APPLAUSE] So I’m also here to welcome you. But I’ve been told by
David Horn that you’ve been here for a while, so this
welcome is a little bit late. But on behalf of the
libraries and all of the people who
work in the libraries, as well as our friends in
the academic side of campus and everybody who works
on campus, welcome. We’re really, really
pleased to have you here, and we think that this
conference adds a lot of value. And we are anxious
and supportive and going to be really
looking for ways to collaborate and support
your work as this continues to unfold. I’d like to talk
a couple minutes– I promised it would be three– to talk about some of the
things that have changed, and it’ll give you some idea
of how we think we can partner and facilitate your work as
this thing starts to unfold. I came here in 2009,
and the main library had about 650,000 people
at the gate count. And this past year,
we hit 1.5 million. We that that mostly
through transforming spaces and introducing new services. Are you guys getting an echo,
or am I just hearing it up here? OK. So that was something that
was really important to us. But it wasn’t just
the main library. Many of you may have
seen or used our Theology of Ministry library, which
supports the School of Theology of Ministry. They’ve gone up 92% in
the last five years, in terms of their use. And again, we’re trying
to our communities. Our motto is “value
beyond discovery.” So our point has
been to take what has been a traditional library,
as a repository of books or archives, and make it so much
more into a blended environment for teaching,
learning, reflection, and any other
academic activities that students or faculty
are interested in. But we further recognize
the social aspects of learning, particularly
with this current generation, so we try and have
that as part of how we think about our spaces. And we as a library have
done some pretty cool stuff with the Association
of Research Libraries, and we were the inaugural
library for innovation and the innovation
lab that developed within that community, which
is the community of all the major research libraries in
the United States and Canada. And that couldn’t be
possible without the support of the president, obviously
David Quigley, our provost, the other deans, and the
absolutely wonderful staff that we have here at
Boston College libraries. So we’ve really
grown a lot, in terms of the use of the library,
in terms of foot traffic. We’ve grown in other ways, too. And there are some things that
people might, on the outset, seem to be counter-intuitive. For example, our
digital collections have grown close to 400%. We started an initiative,
that we actually partnered– well, not partnered, but we saw
that the digitization program, and the archives in
our special collections were treasures that needed
to be put out there and made into something that could be
used for teaching, research to a wider community. We also see part of that as
advancing the Boston College brand. And the brand is reflected in
a number of our collections, but two of the key areas
are, of course, Irish– the Irish Catholic tradition,
but also the Catholic Jesuit tradition. And those are our
strongest holdings, and those are the
things that we’ve paid most of our attention
to are the digitization. There was a time when
people thought the world– and you probably all
lived through this as well I have– that
when Google came along and there was digitilization
that libraries would go away, and, in fact, it’s
been just the opposite. And we think of our
digitization program as adding bait, because
our statistics have gone up as our digitization has gone
up, in terms of in-house use as well as digital use. So both ships, so to speak, rise
with the tide at the same time. And we find this to be, really,
an interesting phenomena. And the more you put out there,
the more people are interested, and the more they come in and
they discover it, they use it. And they want to see
what else is there, and they want to work with
a librarian or an expert, and they want to work
with their colleagues, and we provide spaces
for them to do that. One of the things
that I’m most proud of is with the staff
within the Burns Library, our
special collections, is that we’ve transformed into a
teaching library, where we have many, many classes from
many, many disciplines, using our collections
and our spaces in ways that had never really
been thought of before. And this is a national
trend, but we’ve become somewhat of leaders in
this through our innovation work and with the Association
of Research Libraries. And we’ve couple
that with a program around digital scholarship. So we use technology tools. We use original content. And we try and bring
in with our students a sense of wonder and awe. And it helps with
their formation. It helps with their,
obviously, academic world. But also, as David and
Father Leahy appreciate, and any other historian, and
I’m sure all of you do as well, there’s a sense of history, that
this stuff just doesn’t appear. It’s not just something
you find on Google. There’s a real life and
history to these materials, or these records, just
like what you guys are talking about here. And we value that and
we want to continue to be, as much as possible,
a part of the solution, and support it in any
of number of ways. A couple of other points
I would like to make, and I won’t take
too much longer, because I’m sure I’m at my
three minute point here, is we do think that the
world of archives is growing. There’s a lot of
hidden stuff, right? A long time ago with
special collections, there was this whole notion
of the hidden collections and making them transparent
and discoverable and describing them in
ways that people could make relevancy judgments about them. We’ve taken that to task, and we
see a real opportunity for all of you– and I’m sure this
will come out in the conference in the white paper– to take that further. And one of the ways, then, once
you get the good description, we can also then create– you could all think about it. We would be happy to see where
we could support it wherever, if it’s a partnership
or a distributed model, whatever their model
turns out to be, to see that that stuff
is– it becomes part of a database, or a portal,
where a lot of people can find these things and
see what has to happen next. And that’s really
exciting, because this is the sort of stuff
that really gets to the heart of what
the world is for people who live their faith. And to us, that is
critical to our mission. It’s important to who we are. And it’s important to
this university and to us as a world of Catholics
and people of faith. So I’ve probably talked
long enough for all of you, but I really want to welcome
you in a very sincere way. We have great facilities
here on campus. We have great libraries,
wonderful people, and we want to
make your time here as valuable as
possible, but also as stress-free and productive. So if there’s anything we can
do for you, please let us know. And on behalf of
all the libraries and all the folks
at Boston College, welcome and thank
you for being here. [APPLAUSE] So I have the pleasure
to introduce our speakers for this next session. Our main presenter
is Dr. Jean Bartunek, a Religious of the
Sacred Heart who holds the Robert A.
and Evelyn J. Ferris Chair in the Department of
Organization and Management here at BC’s Carroll
School of Management. She serves as the Associate
Editor of two journals, Journal of Applied
Behavioral Science and the Academy of
Management Review. Dr. Bartunek’s primary
interest center around academic
practitioner relationships and organizational change. In addition, she studies
multiple dimensions of the processes of organs
and organizational change, especially relationships between
change agents and recipients and interactions within
and across these groups. One of her recent publications,
that seems especially relevant here, is entitled Senior
Managers, Sense Making, and Responses to
Strategic Change. After our presentation, we
will have two respondents. Sister Katie Hamm is the
sister of Charity of Halifax. A native New Yorker, she
is serving her second term in congregational leadership,
and she has been in leadership since 2002. Prior to that time,
she worked mostly in Catholic school education
and parish ministry in New York and New Jersey. But in addition to
these ministries, she has worked in a small
high school in Brooklyn as a peace and justice
coordinator, and a volunteer coordinator for two sisters
of Charity Federation congregations,
and as an educator for Lifeway Network,
an organization that works to end human trafficking. She is currently hoping to
get a book published entitled Steadfast Charity–
did I get that– about the Sisters of
Charity during the years of 1972 to 2002, and she notes
that this work depends heavily on their artist, Mary Flynn. Our second respondent
will be James O’Toole, who is the Clough Professor
of History here at BC, where he has taught
for the past 20 years. Prior to joining
the faculty at BC, he directed the MA program
in History and Archives at UMass Boston. Before he began teaching
at the university level, Dr. O’Toole had
an archival career at the New England
Historical Genealogical Society and the
Massachusetts State Archives. He then became the first
professional archivist for the Archdiocese of Boston. He is a historian of American
Catholicism, particularly interested in lay devotional
life and religious practice. His most recent book is
entitled The Faithful: a History of Catholics in America. So I’ll turn it over
to our presenters. Maggie, thank you very much. I am very grateful for
the chance to be here. I hope you’d notice that
Maggie didn’t say anything about my being in any
kind of leadership role in religious life. And to all of you who
are in such a role, I just want to say thank
you for your service, and I’m happy to
leave it to you. Here are the origins
of this presentation. The last two years,
Rick [INAUDIBLE] ran workshops for
religious orders who were coming to
completion, and I gave talks at both of those workshops. And the people in charge
of this conference saw one and they thought that maybe
what I was talking about could potentially be related
to all of you as well. The other origin of the talk
is a former doctoral student named Ian Walsh, who
has been very concerned his whole academic life
with the important issue that organizations
have important impacts on their members and
their communities long after their legal death. And it’s important to
see how organizations live after their death. So if Pat referred to
decline this morning, I’m also going to focus on
what might seem to be death, but not so much. So as Pat said, I
want to reiterate, I’m not an archivist. This is my impression
of archives. This is my office. Anybody who wants– Margaret, Mike,
anybody– when things pass, you could take away
everything in my office except my personally autographed
picture of Dolly Parton, my idol. So now that we
have that straight. The people planning
this conference gave me an article to read
from American Archivist, Documenting the Spirit. And what that says is
it’s an archivist’s job to collect, preserve, and make
available for use documents to create a true
picture of the past, but to also create a sense
of the excitement and energy and spirit that
was present in it. And I believe, yes,
that’s your job, but I think you have
more of a job than that. I think you’re not only
documenting the spirit, I think you could be described
as the chief collective memory and spirit facilitators
for religious orders. But since I teach in
a business school, I’m going to do
something different. I am going to promote you
to Chief Memory Officers. There are chief
executive officers. There are chief financial
officers, chief operating officers, chief
information officers. But to the best of
my knowledge, there are no chief memory
officers, or maybe chief preservation officers. But why not? Actually, I’m saying
this jokingly, but some of my friends who
are familiar with archivists in regular corporations,
they are not taken anywhere near
as seriously enough. So one of the ways
to do that, maybe, is to give you all a promotion. So for at least till the rest
of the conference, you’re CMOs. So my purpose in this talk is to
stimulate your imagination some about the importance
of what you do and what it can include, in
terms of two things, culture and relationships. Let’s talk about
preservation first. That term has been used a ton,
but what does preservation mean? If you were going to
preserve fruits and veggies from this summer, probably,
you couldn’t digitize them. It takes a lot more active
initiative than this. It’s done in different ways. It takes creative, active work. And so I want to give you a
different image that I think is actually beneath
the surface here. And for those who are not at
all familiar with baseball, I’m sorry, but I think
you could get the image. Baseball umpires are the
referees of baseball, and they are supposed to
decide whether a pitch is a ball or a strike. So there’s an old story
about three baseball umpires discussing how they
decide whether a pitch is a ball or a strike. The first said, I call
them as I see them. The second said, I
call them as they are. The third said, they ain’t
nothing till I call them. But think of this as your role. Ann Carey has created
the past future of LCWR. I’m oversimplifying that, but
she has been out in public and she has defined it. So what gets created
as real is what people take the energy
to create, to preserve, however it is they do. And there’s lots that could be
preserved far more than I know, but I want to focus
on two things. What is culture? Culture is a very
complex term that has all kinds of different
meanings and implications, and I’ll talk some about that. And the other is relationships,
in particular relationships with people outside a community. And they could be
all kinds of things. They could be
conflictual, indifferent, positive, all of the above at
different times, and so forth. So what I’m going
to do in this talk is I’m going to describe
some elements of something called a cultural toolkit,
which I will explain. I’m going to
explore a little bit about what
relationship might mean in the context of archives. And that I’m going to tell
some stories, two longer ones and three much shorter ones. The longer stories are about
the beginnings at Studebaker. I mean, why not, right? The shorter ones are
about two monasteries of a religious order in
an educational setting. But let’s start with culture. I’m sure all of you have
used the term, heard the term “culture” talked about. I hear it in ways that say, gee,
the culture of this university is good. The culture is bad,
or we have a culture. How do you know
we have a culture? Because we all go out for a
beer together at 4 o’clock on a Friday afternoon. All kinds of things like
that that are very vague, without any specificity at all. But everybody thinks
that they know what they’re talking about. One way to talk
about culture is it’s a set of resources we
draw on at different times to make sense of something. And here are some frequently
used cultural tools, metaphors, images, stories, and
material artifacts. And if you all are preserving
a culture in some way, you’re doing it in part
by using tools like this. So let me explain
each of them a little, and then suggest that you
just keep these in mind as I’m talking later. Metaphors could be something
like my congregation is like. People who join my congregation
are Bavarian peasant women, something like that. And they’re actually very
important for providing meaning and stimulating emotion. So in a recent LCWR talk that
some of you may have heard, Sister Mary Pat Garvin
described religious leadership as graced companionship. I can promise you that
nobody in a business school calls leadership
graced companionship. It’s all who has more
influence than somebody else. In the Middle Ages, somebody’s
whose name I definitely cannot pronounce, said all kinds
of wonderful things about cloistered religious life. It’s a port of salvation, a
shady place of refreshment, a bed of peace for serfs. Isn’t that nice? Is that your experience
of religious life? There are all kinds
of images that are visual representations
of culture, and although they’re
not just pictures, I’m just going to show
a few very quickly to give some different images. This is my guess Mother Dolores
Hart now, benedicted from her [INAUDIBLE] This
is her biography. Mother Teresa, you
probably recognize. A Jesuit community
a few decades. The recent addition
of Nuns Having Fun. Some people, including a member
of my congregation, Diane Roach, protesting
about immigration. Some members of
Giving Voice, who wrote a recent book
about the experience of [INAUDIBLE] religious. Some LCWR [INAUDIBLE]
protesters. Sister Simone Campbell,
who’s kind of an iconic figure these days. Some Dominicans being
professed in Nairobi. And father James
Martin, who is also a kind of an iconic figure. What meanings of and
emotions about religious life do these images evoke
for you, if any? Maybe none, but you sort of
responded to Nuns Having Fun. None of the others, but. Stories are used
to describe what is core to an organization. So I would imagine there
are all kinds of stories that are told in
your congregation, but they aren’t
entirely consistent. It sort of depends on
who’s telling the story. So one of the things I
did once, a long time ago when I was consulting with
a religious congregation that I wasn’t familiar
with, was at the beginning when I met with them,
I said, could you please tell me a story from
sometime in your history that conveyed what’s
really central about you as a congregation? And could you tell me why? And they told me all kinds
of great stories going back to the Civil War,
and I had some sense of what really matters here. What are the themes
that are here? I think the stories are core. I think oral histories are
absolutely spectacular. Let me just give one example
from a different setting, but I learned about, last week
talking with Mike Schultz, that I think this is
purposefully different, but maybe it can help
stimulate somewhat might be going on
in your experience. This is from Denmark. The story of the young
son of the founder who proudly tells his
father that he has only painted the wooden ducks twice
that we’re going to Sweden, as opposed to the
normal three layers, in order to save
money for the company. His father orders him to take
his bike to the Trade Station, pick up the big box of ducks,
and the third layer of paint before going to bed. He ends up working all night
and never forgets the insistence on the best. This is a kind of classic
organizational story that gets passed
down to new members. And I think it’s worth it
to pay as much attention as possible to what these
classic stories are. Some classic stories,
I want you to know, in some organizations
are totally negative. They’re not just heroic,
aren’t we wonderful? So material artifacts are
the most tangible elements of culture. And I believe that
a lot of what you’re talking about with documents
is, by definition, a material artifact, but actually,
anything non-human that you can hear,
feel, or touch can be a material artifact that
says a story about culture. I’m just going to mention,
briefly, the recent phenomenon of Sister Jean Delores Schmidt,
who is 98 years old, who is the chaplain of the Loyola
of Chicago basketball team, which, in March and
April, advanced very far into the National Collegiate
Athletic Association playoffs. And she became a hero. Her final four press conference
had a media horde, life advice, and an NBA burn. This is her. The press conference
was completely jammed. All the other coaches
had press conferences. Not that many people went. But more importantly, in
terms of material artifacts, you could buy socks, her
shoes, her bobblehead doll. And the team that Loyola played
the last week of the tournament was the University of
Michigan, whose fight song starts with “hail to
the victors valiant.” And this was a sign that
was posted at Ann Arbor. I don’t know if any of you all
have material artifacts that are these exciting. But is anybody here from
Dubuque by any chance? Pardon? Awesome. Talk to that lady. OK, so let’s now get
into the serious stuff about the Beguines. And as I continue,
I’m not going to stop and say, hey, guess what? I just said a metaphor. I’m not going to do that. But I think, hopefully,
you will see some of that. OK, so I got a good friend
named Denise Rousseau, who teaches at Carnegie Mellon, who
has been interested for years in the Beguines, and
who was kind enough to get me on a dissertation
committee in Amsterdam so I could go there for
the dissertation events and then go visit
a begijnhof there. This is one of the architectural
outgrowths of the Beguines, with which you may or
may not be familiar. But this is a picture
of Denise there. This is a picture of one
of the buildings there. I didn’t know much– I didn’t know anything
about the Beguines until Denise got me
involved, but I’ve since then been very struck with it. So lay– quasi-religious,
but definitely not nuns, order of women who were mostly
prominent in the low countries, like Belgium and
the Netherlands, from the 13th to
the 16th centuries. Had a second wave
of the 17th century due to a Belgian bishop,
and who were sometimes referred to as gray
women because they tended to wear gray homespun
wool with hooded capes. The last Beguine formerly died
sometime in the 20th century, but she was the last one by 50
years, or something like that. So this is a group
that is dead sort of. Many of them lived
by themselves, but they tended to include
communities that had housing. And I’ve taken
this from pictures of the begijnhof
in Amsterdam, that included a central church,
chapel, and an enclosed courtyard. It’s a very lovely space. It’s off downtown. It’s reserve housing
now for individual women who make 16,000 euros a year. Those are the only people
who can live in it. They’re mass set
daily in the chapel. So what has been created
is a new embodiment in Amsterdam of a Beguinage. Now, who are the
Beguines, just briefly. Laura Swann has
written a book called The Wisdom of the Beguines. That’s worth reading. But they emerged in
Europe in the 1200s as a merchant class was arising. And also, there was a
very active movement called theta apostolic, as
many laypeople were trying to live the way they saw
Catholic life described in the Acts of the Apostles. These were unmarried or
widowed women living alone, or more often, in begijnhofs. Some of them were
probably widows of soldiers who went to
the Crusades and died. They were financially
self-supporting. They were active in the
emerging money economy, but they were
committed to serving the less fortunate, like
lepers, for example. And they embraced apostolic
ideals, especially poverty. They made a vow of chastity for
the time they were Beguines. So once they stopped
being a Beguine, that vow was no longer– it was no longer a vow. But they were kind of a
problem for a lot of people, to put it mildly. I mean, it was really
awful that they were leading– let’s face it. It was really bad they were
leading such independent lives. Women weren’t
supposed to do that. Women were supposed
to depend on the guy. So this one particular
Franciscan said, There are among us women
we have no idea what to call, ordinary women
or nuns, because they’re neither of the world
nor out of it,” in the world nor out of it. So what are we supposed to do? And that was a good question. So very briefly, the
first wave of Beguines produced a number of mystical
thinkers and writers. This picture is of Mechthild
of Magdeburg in case, by any chance, you
didn’t recognize her. I’m sure it’s a
faithful portrait. But she was one of
the best known ones. Another well-known Beguine
named Marguerite Porete wrote a book called A Mirror
for Simple Souls, which she had absolutely no business writing. And so she was
called on to recant. And she refused
to recant, so she was burned at the stake in 1310,
which is a fate that, I guess, was sort of similar to
St. Lawrence, the patron saint of archivists. They were accused
of spreading heresy. I mean, they did
weird things like read the Bible in the
vernacular and preached. Who can imagine that? So they were suppressed
under Pope John the 22nd. They were eventually
rehabilitated 100 years later. But then, during the Protestant
Reformation, a lot of them died, and there were
just few segments left. So is this the end
of the Beguines, other than that one place
off of downtown Amsterdam? Well, no. I want to describe some
other contemporary offshoots. One of them is a
Beguinage in Louvain. There was a Beguinage there that
started in the 13th century. Over the course
of the centuries, it fell into
considerable disrepair. By 1960, it was in
a deplorable state. Eventually, the Catholic
University of Louvain purchased the site
and restored it, and it is now recognized by
UNESCO as a World Heritage site. In fact, one of the
members of my congregation, who’s originally
from the Netherlands, is living there this year. She sent me that picture,
the one with the bike. Here’s another one, because
that one is like it’s buildings. I don’t know how many of you
are familiar with this website. Take a breath with us. Slow down and renew. Beguine again is the vision
of Methodist Minister Terry Stewart. Founded by her in 2008 is an
interfaith platform for clerics and lay teachers to offer
spiritual practices or renewal. onepeterfive.com is
a place dedicated to the Catholic ethos. The question is– the
beauty of our faces, it is truly universal
for all man at all times, throughout the whole world,
for marks of the church are that it’s one holy
Catholic and apostolic. But sadly, in this present
age, much of our unity has been lost. So this group is calling,
saying that the Church is in a time of
desolation, and what it needs is a new set of Beguines. And what these
Beguines will do, it will be a place
for them to go who love the Lord, feel draw to a
life of prayer and good works. They voluntarily pray for
the Church of the world and live a life of
fraternal charity. There are the Beguines
of mercy in Vancouver. Mostly lone lay sisters
who devote their lives to good works. They’re associated with
the Catholic Church. I don’t know if you
can read it, but they have an interfaith focus suited
to the West Coast, whatever that is. Some of you probably know
but, West Coast is interfaith. There’s another
group in Germany. There are supposedly at least 25
Beguine communities in Germany. And what’s important about these
women is that not that they are religious– in fact,
this is secular– but they didn’t want to enter
a convent because they didn’t want to live by these
rules, but their way of life was independent and they
could fend for themselves. The last, and the
version of Beguines that has gotten by far
the most press, including in The Economist and
Reuters, so maybe some of you have heard it, is a group
of Beguines in California who make medicinal
marijuana and sell it. And as you can see, they’re
certainly not religious, but they are
Beguine revivalists. So notice, please, these are
all offshoots of the Beguines. These are all contemporary
manifestations of what somebody says
is the Beguine culture. Beguines are very much alive. So how is the culture of the
Beguines being preserved? A lot of ways by a lot
of different groups, who don’t know anything about
each other, unless they, well, look at the web. How similar are the
contemporary manifestations? Not so much. I don’t think the onepeterfive
group would have a whole lot to say to the weed
nuns in California, or even to the ones in Germany. So to me, though, this
is a fascinating example of preserving a future. It is be preserved left
and right, maybe not the way the founders had– actually, there’s no
certainty about who the founder of the
Beguines was, so there’s nothing to worry about that. But I think it’s
really interesting because it’s saying that this
group, that this culture, is still alive. So one question is,
what’s being done to help preserve your orders? Culture. Switch to relationships. I’m going to talk about two
dimensions of relationship members and stakeholders. And I’m going to give an
organizational definition of who a member is. Members of a religious
community are anybody who share a
sense of common identity and shared fate of
an organization. That means, for
example, that, at least for the next day and a
half, and for purposes of this conference,
even if somebody is not avowed
religious, if you’re working with a
religious order and have a sense of a shared faith
with it, you are a member. OK, so now, you’ve just
gotten two new identity terms. You’re all members and
you’re all cheap CMOs. But who are the stakeholders
of a religious order? This is something
I realized, when I was working with the people
whose congregations were coming to completion, they
weren’t always real sensitive to all the people
with whom they worked. Stakeholders are anybody that
has a stake in what happens. Whoever influences
your congregation, who has a claim on its
work, receives it, who collaborates with it, who
is a friend of your members, who say [INAUDIBLE]
diocese where it operates. So any religious congregation
has a large number of stakeholders with
whom we may or may not be aware all the time. So I want to give an
illustration of relationships, too, and I want to talk
about Studebaker cars. And if nothing else,
you can think of this– this will not be totally a
happy story, so you could say, OK, this is about
them, not about us. So just think about the
relationships depicted in it. Here’s a brief history of
Studebaker, a very brief. Founded in 1868 in South Bend,
they started additionally produced horse-drawn carriages. They entered the market
for power vehicles. So in case anybody never
heard of Studebaker at all, let’s just say it was
a car company, OK. So by the mid-1920s, they
were doing really well. But following World
War II, they started to have labor and academic
problems, management turnover, and poorly received products. And as a result of
that, they closed down their automotive factory
in South Bend in 1963. They had one place left
in Canada until 1966 and then they shut down entire. What impacts did it
have when they closed? Unemployment in South
Bend shot up dramatically. There was a sense of
crisis in South Bend. A lot of people started
referring to South Bend now as a ghost town,
with the exception of one prominent
football team that had a large university attached. There were a number
of suicides and a fury of community members. Former employers blamed
Studebaker’s leaders for all the ways they had
completely screwed up. So it was a dirty place to work. It was hard on your health. And so one of the things
that started happening was that the buildings that
were iconic to Studebaker started being torn
down, because people didn’t want any memory
of that awful company. Now, I hope when we have
religious congregations come to completion, it doesn’t
have their backs like this. But this is actually serious. I mean, this was a huge impact. After several years,
newspapers said, well South Bend is
scrambling back– excuse me. Do any of you live in
South Bend right now? So great. They can fill this out. Some citizen said,
you know what? They actually had an impact. Whether we like
it or not, they’re actually pretty important. And two groups had a big effect
on how this got remembered. One was members of–
there’s Studebakers drivers clubs all over. You know, they’re groups
that get together and drives 1930 cars, and stuff like that. And they started saying, yes,
but this is really important. We’d like to get together and
drive our 1930s and 1940s cars. And the other group that had
a little bit of an impact, where people who had
a few stores stayed opened and sold parts
for Studebaker cars so that the Studebakers
drivers clubs could have parts. And one of the things they
found was that Studebaker could foster tourism. Gee. People, during the
basketball season, somebody might come to South
Bend to see Studebaker. Much later, social
media enabled residents to say, oh, you know what? Studebaker wasn’t
as bad as it seemed. And they started to
reconstruct Studebaker, not as a dirty place, but as
an innovative automobile manufacturer. And they started saying, this
was an incredibly innovative company, which is important. And so there has been a
revival of Studebaker. One of the illustrations
of the revival is the Studebaker Museum,
which is self-supporting, which holds their archives. And apparently, it is– Lisa [INAUDIBLE]
one of my friends is Holy Cross sister
says it’s a great place. It’s still possible to get
parts for Studebaker cars. There are still draggers clubs. If you look on the far left of
the picture, the lower picture, you see a woman and a man. The woman is [INAUDIBLE]
who’s one of my students, or one of my former students,
who, with her husband, joined a Rhode Island
Studebakers drivers club for a while to
see what it was like, and actually liked it. She was really intrigued by it. And actually, I
started to think, if there’s trouble finding
places for religious archives, could there be something set
up, like a museum, that could be a money making venture? Well, I started to think,
probably selling auto parts and forming drivers clubs
probably wouldn’t work exactly for religious congregations. I’m sorry. That’s the only example I have. There’s also Innovation Park,
started in Notre Dame in 2007, which was a business incubator. There are a lot of those now
to get entrepreneurs starting thinking entrepreneurially. Not to be outdone, South bend
launched its sister edition park on the Studebaker lab. So the places that got started
[INAUDIBLE] picked about by Notre Dame would
have someplace to go. And South Bend started
to talk about itself as the city of entrepreneurs. This is pretty amazing. How Studebaker closed,
they completely screwed up their relationships
with other people. And this led to perceptions of
them as incompetent and cruel. A few people took steps to
preserve some parts of them. It took 40 years for people
in the surrounding area to change how they saw them. What has now changed is a
completely different image of what Studebaker is. So this just raises a
question for reflection. Who are all your members? Who are all your stakeholders? What are the relationships like
between your religious order and your stakeholders? And how is it evolving? OK, now just three short
stories, a Trappist Monastery in Virginia preserving
during diminishment, a Trappist Monastery in Utah
preserving during closure. And a former Barat
College in Lake Forest, Illinois preserving
after closure. Holy Cross Abbey is a Trappist
Monastery in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. The number of monks there
has dwindled considerably. The Abbey had a lot of land
and there were a number of problems with the land. The beef cattle
being raised were trampling the streams feeding
into the Shenandoah river. They were sending
sediment into the river. The crops were being raised
with harsh pesticides. And the community’s
buildings were old and leaky, and things like that. What might they do to
preserve during diminishment? What they decided to do– again, this is important to be
thinking about preservation– was to take a number of
sustainability steps. So they worked with a group
from the University of Michigan. I heard about this some
from Andy Hoffman, who’s a professor there,
and he was working with six master’s students to
make the land more sustainable. This work went to a 400
page detailed report. So this was a big deal. I think you could get
access to report outline. A large number of
preservation activities that the monks paid for. And here are some of them. The most lucrative was an
80 acre natural cemetery in which people
could be buried who did not have to be Catholic. They could choose
to be buried simply in a shroud, the same
way the monks are buried, or in a biodegradable coffin,
or choose cremation and be scattered in a separate
section of the monastery. They also created the
nondenomenational open air chapel that’s shown there. They’ve renovated
their own chapel. They created a
conservation easement. They got rid of the old
farmer and hired a new one. I think this is
important, although I don’t have the foggiest
notion what it actually means. Well, whatever. I will leave it to one
of you to explain this. It also led to an article
in National Geographic, a PBS documentary, which I
think you could probably get, and a commentary in the Ross
School of Business Magazine, some of the master’s students. In case you can’t read
it, “It’s one thing to know your master’s
project has made a real difference in the world. It’s another thing altogether
to see it on the big screen and find out that the effect
may have reached to the heavens, too.” So this, for me, is a
really interesting example of preservation. It’s not something being
done in an archives, but it is very consciously
preserving something that’s culturally
important in the monastery and relationships. The Trappist Monastery
in Huntsville, Utah that was founded in 1947
with the arrival of 30 monks. The number had grown
to 84 months by 1960, but since then, it
has been declining. And you can read much more
about these elsewhere, but I just try to get the idea. 2013, Abbot
[? Brendan ?] Freeman was sent there,
basically, with the idea that you’ve got to give
last rites to the monastery. He was sent there basically
to figure out how to do it, to sell the property, to help
the remaining brothers accept the end of their monastic
mission, and so forth. But it was important to them
that they leave a legacy. It was very crucial
to them that they leave some important,
ongoing, living indication of what they were about. So they sold their land
to a retired attorney who would preserve it as open land. The attorney work with
students at Utah State to develop a plan to preserve
the abbey its open space. They also built– can’t help to
build a Catholic church there. And they’re trying
to raise funds just to create a conservation
easement to protect it from mansions, and
things like that. They also donated the money that
they had made over the years to a shelter for the
poor, needy, and homeless. And what they said was,
we want the people of Utah to know that we’re
sad to leave them. We worked very hard
to leave a legacy. And a new mural at lantern
house has some lines from the rule of Saint Benedict. So this is really important,
that they didn’t just end. They left something
that continues to grow, and it leaves a recollection
of what they were all about. So what cultural comments
are these preserving? What relationships? Then the last example is
preservation after closure. Barat College in
Lake Forest, Illinois was founded by my
religious order, 1858. I promised before I
entered quite a bit. It was a small college, always
for women’s college most of its time, eventually co-ed. It was operated
independently until 2001 when it was no longer
financially viable, in part because a
president had decided it needed a new library. But it hadn’t occurred to her
to think that she actually needed the funds to build one
before she built the library, and somehow they
ran out of money. So a president of
DePaul University thought, hey, this is nifty. We’ll buy it and we’ll
call it Barat College of DePaul University. Not everybody liked
it– is anybody here from DePaul, incidentally? OK, that’s probably good. Because then somebody
fired the president, who really thought
that was a bad idea. And so the trustee
board decided, well, we’re not going to– this is ridiculous. We’re in the middle of Chicago. What are we going to have
this place in Lake Forest for? And so they voted to discontinue
operating it entirely. But that wasn’t the end. Actually, what got
created, by somebody who cared a lot about
Barat, was something called a Barat Educational
Foundation, that is aimed at primarily teaching
elementary and high school students about
government and civics. It’s small, but it’s ongoing. It also does things
like maintain alumni list for the
college when there are reunions, and so forth. It very consciously
lists its mission, as related to our
order, as heirs of the legacy and educational
tradition of Barat College and its founders as the
Religious of the Sacred Heart. We do these things
and our core values are things very closely– that are precisely taken from
the core values of Sacred Heart education. So it has continued
to be ongoing, creating something that is not
being offered other places, and it’s continued to
be financially viable. So the question is, what
cultural elements is the Barat Foundation preserving? What relationships
is it preserving? OK, I’m going to give a very
brief concluding summary. Religious congregation,
partly through its archivists, preserves that an
emerging future in part by using tools like
metaphors, images, stories, and material artifacts. Those are all important
to preservation, but they’re not the only
ones who preserve it. Others who are in relationship
with the congregation preserve it as well, and the
quality of the relationship affects what’s preserved. What was preserved
about Studebaker, initially, was not something
that the founders of Studebaker would have been thrilled about. And one final issue. So does time. Think of the Beguines going from
the 1200s in some manifestation until now. Imagine you were the
archivist for the Beguines in the 13th century. Think of how busy you
would still be right now, how much you would have
to do, and how much widely spread you would be. If you think you’re spread
now just because you’ve got three jobs,
then think about, I’m maintaining this
group in Germany, and the group in Vancouver, and
the weed nuns in California, and all these. So I think those are the most
important things I want to say, is partly what you’re preserving
is culture and relationships, and these are some tools
by which you do it. And I think your work
is vitally important. And that’s all. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] Good afternoon. I received an email
not too long ago that said I had the coveted
spot on the program, right after lunch. But it was really
kind of a surprise that I’m here at all, in terms
of it’s my first conference. It sounded like I was in
leadership ever since I was 12. But I was in leadership for
six years from 2002 to 2008, and then a six year break,
and back again, 2014 to 2020. I’m here as a member of a
five person leadership team, of a small international
congregation whose mother house is in Nova Scotia. But you heard, I
live in New York. I’m from New York. I’ve been in New York. I went to Halifax five
years for formation. And other than that, it’s
been this crisscross path, trying to find out what
our corporate identity is, trying to find out what
our unknown future is. There are two
things that I’d just like to start with,
related to our archives. In 1951, our second mother
house burned to the ground. And we lost everything,
but no life was lost. And after that time, there
was substantial effort made to try to regain
what was there. I’m in constant phone
contact with Mary Flynn, who is our archivist,
and she said to me, the fire affects
my work every day. While reconstruction
efforts were substantial, there is still so much that’s
lost that we’ll never get back. So it was something for
me to hear her say that. I mean, we have had a
professional archivists since, I guess, the
2002 period of time. Mary’s been in probably
four or five years. But the archives
have always been important to our congregation. Secondly, as to the
work of the archives, I had to look it
up on our website, and it says the mandate is to
identify, collect, preserve, and organize. And my desk looks like
Sister Jean’s desk. And everything that pertains to
the history, spirit, and growth of the Sisters of Charity
of Halifax, and these include not only official
papers, but administrative of the officers, but
also the material that reflects the life and works
of the sisters as individuals. So I start to say, what reflects
the spirit of the Sisters of Charity of Halifax? What reflects the growth? And in this time of history,
what reflects the letting go? Well, there is growth. Every stage of life, whether
an organization or a person, has beauty and purpose. So the growth
that’s happening now is a deepening
awareness of who we are as part of a federation,
part of a Vincentian family. The awareness that we are
part of religious life, characterized by an acceptance
of the new cosmology. For a small group
of our sisters, the evolutionary consciousness
movement, and all of us are working on trying
to learn to discern through contemplative dialogue. And of course, an awareness
that we are called to promote care of our common home. These are things that
are growing in us, even at this stage in our life. The movements that
reflect letting go. There are lots of transitions
related to representatives on boards, changes
in leadership so that even in this
particular time of history– I have the title of
Canonical Secretary, and they told me that it really
didn’t require much work. However, I found
out that it does require that I’m in
connection with the archives and that I am aware
of what’s going on. So just to say, the
other part that’s required of us, in
terms of letting go, is the sisters live
in constant change. That requires a
lot of flexibility. And when I talk to the ones
that are 90, 96, and so on, they’ll say, this
has been our life. And I think that’s true,
and in the understanding of the kind of planning
needed for whatever our unknown future is. Sister Pat, this
morning, mentioned we use the term
“historical completion.” I just would like to say
that for several of us, the terms “dying,”
“diminishment,” “death,” although it may reflect what the
reality is, we use that word, “historical completion,” because
the language of diminishment doesn’t serve us. Every stage of life
as beauty and purpose. So I came signing up
saying, I want to find out what’s next for the archives. What should be
their holding place? And today, I’m here to say
that the real work of now is to find out and articulate
the important stories and to build relationships
with stakeholders. Sister Jean’s talk
really affirmed what I already
believe, and that’s that the role of leadership,
at least one of them, is to tell the story. And in a time when we are called
to face the reality of coming to historical completion of this
particular life form, for me, it’s critical to capture
the thinking, the wisdom, the learning, the inspiration,
that apostolic religious life may have to offer
future generations. It also, to tell the
story for our own sisters, affirms what has been done and
it plant seeds of hope in them. Sister Jean speaks of
the cultural toolkit. All of this language of
organization and archives is a new language to me. Of course, we’ve talked
about the culture of vocation and the culture
of this and that, so I understand the
cultural toolkit. But she identifies it in terms
of stories, metaphors, images, artifacts. I guess because I’ve
been around so long– I entered in 1963, what was
the peak of our numbers, and here I am, leadership
2002, 650 members. Leadership 2014– well,
2018, 260 members. So the change is
happening and it’s happening before our very eyes. But I need to capture
the stories now. And I’ve heard a lot of stories. From an inspirational point
of view, the founding stories. If you think of
your own stories, I imagine they’re quite heroic. I mean, I’ve heard of sisters
coming to the United States from overseas and not being
met by the bishop that invited them. So they had to find
a place to stay and that became their home base. In our own congregation, the
Sisters of Charity of New York sent four of their
sisters, and it was a time when they
were experiencing a struggle with numbers. And the two bishops were
friends, the Bishop of Halifax and the Bishop of New York,
so they sent four sisters up to Halifax. And that was 1849. And by 1856, the
Bishop of Halifax wanted his own congregation,
and so the sisters from New York either went back to their own
congregation or to another. We didn’t even say our founding
mother’s name until about 1990 when we claimed the courage
and the heroic activity of this Mother
[? Basilea ?] McCann. The overcoming
obstacles stories– and you might say what
kind of obstacles? Well, you all have them, too. They could be physical. They could be financial. They could be coming
from within the Church, from within the civil
or business community, from natural disasters, loss
of members and institutions. Or you might have stories
that of can-do spirit. One of the stories
that I’ve heard a long time is about this
little hospital in Manitoba called the Swan River. So I said, let me look up
the facts about Swan River. Well, today, Swan
River has 4,000 people. It has winter from
November to April. The story is that the
sisters, the elderly sisters, were telling me were they
didn’t even us to stay. We were Catholics. They didn’t want us. So they went in on
the sly and they became to be a beloved
fixture in the community. So those are stories
that are of obstacles. Among the joys of leadership,
talking to individual sisters, I asked a centenarian
on her birthday– she was 102 then, I think. But she still could function. I said, tell me,
what do you remember? And she paused. I’m waiting for
some brave story. And she says, it
was a hard life. And we all know the details
that could make us shudder. But for some, at
least, this person, she stayed and she flourished. She was known for
her joy in living. So that’s the stories
that could be told. There are also stories from
a learning point of view. We can learn from those. But ask individual sisters,
what’s your greatest joys and disappointments? Some of them had
to do with changing the habit and the loss
of respect of people that they served. Some of them had to do
with actually moving into a public nursing
home when they never thought that was happening. That’s when we sold our
third Mother House in 2007, and it was deconstructed. I’m sure, if you read
American Magazine, then you may have read
the article that’s by Eileen Markey called The
White Washing in Canada. And that story tells the story
of the residential schools, and it’s our story. It’s a story that we’ve
all kept under the table for a long time. But in this story,
Donna Gernhardt, who was our former leader– and she works in this process
now, truth and reconciliation– we were co-opted into a
system that was racist, but we didn’t see
it at the time. We see that we have an
inheritance of hurt, of injury that
has harmed others, and for that, we are sorry. And she said, it’s a heritage
of guilt, if you like. The story of truth
and reconciliation, and our own part in
it, is not finished. It’s probably at the
very beginning stages of admitting it and
living with the shame, maybe living with
accountability, that things can’t be that way again. And of course,
it’s only one piece of where that kind
of story exists. It just happens to
be, now, quite public, and is part of a larger process
within the Canadian culture, and it could be
part of our culture, as we all are studying
racism in the LCWR. So there are stories
that can’t be lost, because that’s part of us, too. When I thought about
images and metaphors, I was thinking we changed
a lot along the way. But let’s say, in my time,
disciples on the road to Emmaus, that was us. Always on the journey. The basin and the towel
happens to be the one that we use as our metal that
says we’re people of service that Vincentian charism. We even recently
used nurse logs. Never heard of them before,
but you’ve seen them before. In the forest when
the tree falls down, new life springs out of that. New life comes out of that. So we’re creating new
metaphors about what it means to be who we are now. So I can say for sure that
there are many, many more stories that we could talk
about, many more metaphors. But I think this
response is just meant to be a beginning
of a further conversation. In our own congregation, it
was considered a compliment to be tough, independent,
laser-focused. Now, we’d like to add
compassionate and kind. We probably were,
but the other ones were put up higher,
given more of a priority. We had sisters in 1906
that went to Oxford to study because we were
starting a university– well, it was in college at the time. And when I thought
about it, 1906, going over there and studying,
getting your doctorate. I thought they
were pretty brave. And it was probably farsighted
that those kinds of things happen. And sisters were sent to
Peru, Dominican Republic. And the stories of those early
days, their comradery among all the missionaries there. I meant once to visit, and I was
just awestruck with the stories about living in– I don’t know if
they’re buildings– but places was made out of hay,
and the hay had bugs in them. And that was all
I needed to know. I was not meant to
be a missionary. But the missionary component
of our sisters, they changed who we are, because
whenever we served, we learned. We changed ourselves. So service was the key. I guess I’d like
to say something about we were pretty
smart in a time when women didn’t buy
land, construct buildings. They were in charge and
they got these things done. Simone Campbell’s
picture was up there, and I really love that she
capitalized on the idea of Nuns on the Bus, and
Nuns on the Ferry. Nuns anywhere
together are powerful, and they stand for those who
don’t have the voice and who don’t have the power. So I guess I’ll just share one
of one more of our stories. This is an operetta that
was written in 2014. It’s called The
Time of the Trouble. So this is the libretto
of that operetta. Now, if you go back
to what was happening in 2014 in religious life,
in the Church, hierarchy and things like
that, the visitation. I don’t know whether that
triggered this, this man who composed it, but it’s a story
of our life in the 1870s when the bishop
of Halifax wanted to exercise more control
than this sisters thought he should have. And therefore, the
sisters went over to Rome and we became a papal
institute as a result of that. So whether it’s good or
bad, that’s the way it was. So we have an operetta that
was researched in our archives. I asked Mary, well,
what did he look at? She said, well, besides
the straight history, he looked at the
songs and prayers that were used at the time. And if you ever saw the
operetta, you would hear. You’d hear the Gregorian
chant, but you’d also hear the dissonance
of what was going on between the parties that
were involved in the conflict. So just to say, the archives
hold a lot of stories, and some of them will
be used by artists, and that will influence
other people, too. I guess, just to jump
over to stakeholders. So stories, stakeholders. Those are the two
things I’m taking home. I’ve use the word
“stakeholders” a lot. I don’t think I’ve thought
about it creatively very much. When I thought about us,
I said, well, we’re women. We’re women who always wanted
women to be independent. And whether it’s the
Catholic college, whether it’s shelters for
domestic violence, education, whatever it is, we really
believe that women and children are a focus that’s important. So I said, well, where
are the stakeholders? Who are the people that might
care about the values that we had and the work that we did? And so I started
to try to think. I mean, easily, I came
up with associates, our partners in mission,
benefactors, friends. Then I went to, well,
maybe women in the church. There are still
women in the church with our millennial
results, who knows? But maybe communities in need
of truth and reconciliation. Maybe we’d have something
that they could use. Global citizens, activists
on behalf of the earth, the human community. And we might have something
to offer if we have archives that are preserved. Then I thought, well, maybe
more possible stakeholders by geography. Because, maybe, who cares
what happened in Nova Scotia but Nova Scotians. So I said, well,
could be people who are storytellers of North
America, storytellers of the Canadian church,
singers, songwriters. I said, who will
care about our story? Who might have a stake in it? Do we just see ourselves
as having the audience within the Church, or
the institutional Church, or is it broader? Is it women? Is it women pioneers? Is it women activists? Who are we saving it for? What riches are there? What’s there that
might be possible? People with a common vision. Storytellers of institution
created in response to needs. That’s what we always said. Whatever the needs are, that’s
what we want to respond to. People with a common challenge. People whose institutions may
be on that spiral of completion. And then I always
like this term– I don’t know if we ever
actually [INAUDIBLE] it, but they call them edge walkers,
people on the margins, people who walk on the margins and
see things from that angle. So there will always be
people who walk on the edge. Will we have something
to offer them? How do we know what qualities
will be important to them? Well, I particularly
like the quote that Sister Jean said, “The
quality of the relationships affects what is preserved.” And if I were to say what is
one thing besides the stories we should focus on, it would be
to actually develop an idea of, who are the stakeholders,
and how do we establish relationships now? So I went back and I looked
at one of our ministries that we are not
really associated with in any financial way,
or sponsorship, or anything like that anymore. But in 1987, there
was a ministry in Lawrence, Massachusetts that
was called the Elizabeth Seton Asian Center. And I looked at the website. That group is now called the
Merrimack Valley Immigrant and Education Center. So how did it get from
Elizabeth Seton Asian Center to the Merrimack Valley? And the thing was
the first sentence in it says the sisters– or it doesn’t say
sisters, but the founders went around and listened to
people to see what they needed. Well, that’s an
ongoing value that I hope all people who want to
help other people do that, so that they’re listeners. And then the Elizabeth
Seton, a name, I guess, didn’t have enough weight
to it to get grants. So the executive
director and the board said, oh, we better change that. We’ll change it to the Asian
Center of Merrimack Valley. And then because the
times have changed, it’s not the Vietnamese or Asian
people that needed it so much as also
Hispanic-speaking people. So that’s why it had
a broader name now. But the legacy that
we want to leave is not the name, or
even our founder’s name, but the charism,
the desire to serve, especially those who
are in need of it. So what will I do as a leader? I think sometimes
people have exalted idea of what leadership can do. But what we can do is have
conversations that matter. And everything takes
such a long time. But I think that the
leader, the archivist, communicators, I
would say artist, any stakeholders
that we can imagine, start trying to say, who do
we need to gather and talk about this with? It won’t be any good if we
just talk around our table and figure it out. It really has to be a
broader sense of, who cares and what is it that’s important? I appreciate the ideas
that Sister Jean had, and I’m going to
encourage our team. That’s one thing. It’s like, where can
we have influence? So wherever you
can have influence, that’s who you want to gather. And I like the words
that Sister Jean gave to the activist, the
chief collector of memory, and the spirit animator. And that’s what they sometimes
say about leadership. You hold the memory. You also are to
animate the spirit. And so in truth, I can see
that it’s with the archivists only that this can be
done in the best way. So I’ll put it on the agenda. I’ll share the ideas
from the conference. I’ll hope that we get some ideas
and we put them on a time line, because that means
they’re really going to happen if
they’re on a timeline. And we’ll just try to keep
trying to actually do something concrete, I think, to
improve the quality we have with various stakeholders. So thank you. [APPLAUSE] It’s too late for me to
add my words of welcome to Boston College. I think you’ve probably
already been welcomed enough. The participants in this
conference, I think, will not need to be convinced
that religious orders do, indeed, have a culture,
“charism” to use the traditional
religious language, or that this culture is
essential to understanding what its members do and why. Nor do we need to be
persuaded that it’s crucial to preserve that culture,
however intangible it sometimes can seem,
or that preserving the evidence of that culture
is an important work, even, or maybe
especially, in the face of what we have learned
today to call completion. The framework that Jean
offered for understanding the constituent elements
of such a culture, a story as metaphors, and so
on, has been a very helpful one. For archivists, of course,
the specific responsibility is to focus on those material
things that she itemized, including, first and foremost,
the documentary heritage of a religious community. In general, over the
last 40 years or so, the archivists of
Catholic religious orders, particularly those
of women religious, have been doing this with
some considerable success. Diocesan archives,
too, I might add. Taking advantage of
widespread interest in things historical
in the 1970s, prompted by the bicentennial
of the American Revolution, archivists have worked
with community leadership and diocesan officials
to establish programs for the care of
archival records, and they’ve been eager to make
those records available for use by scholars and others. Now, none of these
archives, most likely, have everything they might wish
for, in terms of space, budget, staff, cooperation. Sound familiar? But what impresses me
most about these archives and this archival effort
over the last several decades is their ongoing and
continuing nature. Interest in archives was not,
in most cases, a one time thing. As one archivist retired, or
went on to other work, or yes, died, a new
archivist was usually appointed to take their
place, and that is very good. Those who did not have
previous experience in archives acquired at least basic
training and education through workshops,
participation, in professional
associations, and so on. All that, I think,
has helped ensure that the work of
caring for records has come to be
understood, properly so, as a core institutional
responsibility, like the professional management
of finances, personnel, property, and so on. Religious orders have lawyers
and they have accountants and they have archivists. These archivists have
worked to preserve essential
administrative records, those records having what used
to be called evidential value. But archivists have
also, appropriately, had an eye toward
those things that help us get our arms and minds
around that intangible culture, or charism, of each group. You know them probably
better than I, constitutions, chapters,
formation documents, editions of the rule, photographs,
examples of the habit. All of those and more,
regardless of form, help archivists approach
the difficult work of documenting the spirit. The question before
us now is how to continue to maintain
this documentary heritage in the light of the changes in
religious life that are already well underway in the face
of organizational shrinkage. We all know the numbers. From my own quick survey of
all the terrific documentation that [? Kara ?] assembles
and makes available, two recent data
points stand out. First, in the year 2000,
less than 20 years ago, there were about 20,000
religious order priests and brothers and 80,000
religious sisters, while in 2017, last year,
there were 15,000 priests and brothers, 45,000 sisters. Two decades, priests
from 20,000 to 15,000, sisters 80,000 to 45,000. Second, and more
portentous for the future, in 2017, roughly 80%
of religious institutes reported that they
had no professions of perpetual vows, none. Given all that, how do we
ensure the preservation of the archives and, therefore,
the memory of the work that these institutes
have done, work that has been, and
continues to be, so important to the history
of the Catholic people? Moreover, what can we do
that will at least make it possible for that
historical memory to be applied to the
future, and in the future, as new forms of
religious expression emerge, as I believe, as a
matter of faith, they will. I have to believe that the Holy
Spirit has something in mind. Come back in a couple
of hundred years and we’ll know what that is. Many of you here
have already been involved in addressing
these issues, and this conference
is a good opportunity to hear some examples
of what’s been done, and to brainstorm how some
of those general patterns might be applied in
particular circumstances. There have been a
number of instances, we know, of religious orders
placing their archives in a related institution. We heard last night of the
Sisters of Blessed Sacrament, now in the Philadelphia
archdiocese and archives. And the records– I checked the website, more
than 800 boxes of them, of the records of the mission
helpers of the Sacred Heart, now in the archives of
Catholic university. Such arrangements have
to be done carefully with appropriate attention
to legal custody, the protection of privacy,
and other individual rights, terms of use, and other matters. It is, I think, useful
to hear of such efforts. What others have done, and
how that might or might not apply in a given
community or situation, that’s the kind of conversation
that this conference can prompt. One size will not fit all. Let 1,000 flowers bloom. To be sure, there are
potential problems with any such arrangements. And for what it’s
worth, let me offer some caveats, personal
opinions clearly labeled. I am suspicious, and I
think you should be, too, of outside archives that
seek out new acquisitions more aggressively than they
subsequently organize and care for them, institutions
that are, in the words of an early archival
mentor of mine, “all ingestion and
little digestion.” I’m suspicious, and I
think you should be, too, of single, centralized
national archives for religious communities. Not opposed, just suspicious. These arrangements
can be appropriate, depending on the order, but
they can also remove records from the immediate institutional
surroundings that produce them. And they can greatly
reduce the likelihood that archival records
will be applied, as I believe they should be,
to matters of current day administration in the
religious community. I am suspicious, and I
think you should be, too, of people who present themselves
as quicky archival consultants who offer easy solutions–
let’s just digitize it all– to complex problems. They should be chosen
carefully, caveat emptor. Finally, any acquiring archives,
such as that of a university, will have its own
responsibilities to discharge, its own problems
of program definition, budget, staff, space, and so on. It should, therefore,
resist the temptation to bite off more
than it can chew. All that notwithstanding, these
options are worth exploring. One final thought, prompted
by Jean’s description of the closing of Barat
College and its affiliation with DePaul University. Hearing about that
made me think of– this might surprise you– Radcliffe. You know Radcliffe,
established at Harvard in 1879 as the Society
for the Collegiate Instruction of Women, informally
known as the Harvard Annex. Women in the Annex, typical. In 1894, it was reincorporated
as Radcliffe College, providing undergraduate
education to women at a time when all Harvard
students were male. In 1975, women were finally
admitted to Harvard, but the two
institutions continued their separate, if
connected, existence. And finally, in
1999, the two merged, and Radcliffe was
transformed from a college into an Institute
within Harvard, sponsoring research fellowships
and other scholarly and public programs. A key component of that
institute, I should say, is the Schlesinger
Library on the history of women, probably the best
and most significant collection of archival materials on its
subject anywhere in the world. Can we think about
establishing, somewhere, a comparable
Institute that focuses on Catholic religious
orders and their work? I know that some orders have
their own individual heritage centers, but I’m thinking
of something broader. It might be freestanding,
or more likely housed in a university,
in particular one that had successfully worked with
communities and their archives. In this way, it would be
a center, not the center, but a center for
preserving the culture and charism of religious life. It could cooperate
with, and perhaps become the
institutional home of, the Triennial Conference
on the History of Women Religious,
which has helped encourage so much important
research for many years now. It would need its
own funding, which might come from the
parent institution, from contributions by the orders
whose archives are maintained there, from potential granting
sources, from private donors. It would need
oversight and support in the form of
trustees or advisors, chosen from a range of
Jean’s religious community stakeholders. This institute could
offer research fellowships for students at all levels,
for scholars and members of religious orders themselves. It could assist in the
publication of scholarship, and you could plan public
programs that brought awareness of the work of
religious communities to a wider,
non-scholarly public. I’m picturing here a visit
from the C-SPAN city tour bus one day. I haven’t thought this
idea through to any extent beyond what I have just said,
but it’s worth exploring, I think, and I’d be happy to
do that with anyone interested. It’s already become a
theme of our conversations over the last day that Catholic
religious communities are at a turning point, and that the
preservation of their archives and, therefore, of their
work, is an urgent task. We should not, I think,
be looking for the answer. Rather, let’s multiply
the possibilities, learning as we go. I’ll say it again,
thanks to Chairman Mao, let 1,000 flowers bloom. Thanks. [APPLAUSE] Malachy, can we take
a couple of questions? Do we have to have
time for that? OK. Yeah, if you folks want to
come back up for a minute. This was possibly the best after
lunch session at a conference ever. Can you speak from the mic? I can’t hear you. I’m sorry. We’re going to take a
few minutes of questions. We know we’re running late, but
we’ve got some time, I think, filled in. Again, if you’d come to the
mice, that would be great. Oh, I made them all
come back up here, so. I have a question
of Sister Hamm. Were your archives actually
totally destroyed or not? I’m not clear of [INAUDIBLE]. Yes, they were. The first step after that was
the sisters and volunteers, I guess at the time, went
to different resources to try to get the
same information. And the Federation
members at the time all contributed a piece of
something from the founders. So that was the beginning
of the re-birth, I guess, of the
archives of that time. [INAUDIBLE] I was just thinking that. Margaret or Mike, do you know? What happens with the
Barat College archives? [INAUDIBLE] Yeah. Where’s Mike? Do you know? [INAUDIBLE] I believe they were at DePaul. I had visited Barat College
the year before, I think, it was assumed by DePau and
had finalized a separation of what were congregational
records from the Barat College institutional records. And I believe I was at
Archives of the USA Province then when the sale took place,
or when the end of Barat took place. And we received
nothing, so it must have been all institutional. I think it’s raising a
really important point, if some place gets acquired. As maybe somebody
who knows here, as Newton College
of the Sacred Heart got acquired by Boston College. I have no idea what
happened to the archives. They’re here. OK. Good. Thank you. If you need any of the Newton
College archives, ask him, or David here. I’m want to thank
Sister Jean for coming from another disciplinary
area of academe, and showing us how to
apply that in another way. That usually brings very
rich cross-fertilization, and you’ve given us
things to think about. So I appreciate
the approach, which is very much from
the outside, but then coming in and saying, OK. And Jim, I thought some of
your ideas were amazing. I’m someone who shared
this with my group this morning, that believes,
let’s look at a large piece here. Let’s look at thinking
about this in a large way. And I agree with you not
only that one size doesn’t fit all, but the idea that
this won’t be the fix, but it will be a
very important fix. And I think in a very large– it could be very
large and dramatic with some of the
things you outlined within the institution,
because it hits the factors. But at the same
time, the smaller– it could have a broad
umbrella effect. And so I guess I’m hoping what
comes down the pike from this, and I’m hoping we can leave here
with some very specific ways to at least think about,
not a definitive decision, but I would like
to explore this. I’ll talk to you and others,
because I really think this has some real meat to it. And it gives everyone
in this room, all of us working in some
way in this picture– we need a big screen here. We need a big area,
because if it’s going to make an
impact, whether it’s for the stakeholders
or your cultural piece, whether it’s communities
that you also shared with us, we need a big canvas. Because when we do that,
that’s the way, then, to put out a very
large, enduring message about the importance
of what has happened, and the importance
of women’s and men’s religious communities, not
only to the American Catholic Church, but to the United
States of America and the larger American narrative. And that’s, I think I
mentioned last night, what got me into this
area in the first place, because I don’t have the
pedigree of most of you within your area. So I come to this
as an outsider, but I really think it is one of
the most important, meaningful endeavors that I would
like to be a part of. So I just wanted to
encourage all of you. So I have a quick question
concerning after the fire. Do you have a disaster
plan in place now? Say that [INAUDIBLE] So after the fire, after
the lessons learned, do you have a disaster
plan in place now? What happens if [INAUDIBLE] Is there a plan? Because as we’re all
thinking about places that are nearing
completion, that really is the disaster plan. What records do you
want to live forward, that if you had a
chance to save them, to continue to tell
that story, what is it that you want to tell? So looking at what you lament
on what you lost helps, then, know where you want
to go, if you’re still leaving that footprint behind. So I still encourage everyone
to still have a disaster plan, but that’s another
actual way of looking at, what are you preserving and why? Any final questions or comments? Malachy, what time do
you want people back? [INAUDIBLE] OK. So 3:45 up in the commons. Right. Not the big room,
but the other room. OK, thank you all very
much to our panel. [APPLAUSE]

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