NACAR Tenth Anniversary
Dominican Associate Director Receives
Partners In Mission Award
Mary Kay Gilbert
CINCINNATI, OHIO – Close to 500 vowed Religious and Associates
of religious communities in the United States and Canada celebrated
the tenth anniversary of the North American Conference of Associates
and Religious (NACAR) at the biennial conference in Cincinnati,
Ohio, June 2-4, 2006.
The first Partners in Mission Award was presented to
Barbara Sharp, former Associate Coordinator for the Dominican
Sisters of Racine, WI. Barbara was nominated for this award by
Carla Mae Streeter, OP
Winner of the first NACAR Partners in Mission Award was
Barbara Sharp, former Associate director for the Dominican
Sisters of Racine, WI. Presenting the award to Barbara (center)
were NACAR board members Barbara McMullen, CDP (left) and
Marci Madary (right).
In receiving the award Babara said, “ Association gives
each of us the opportunity to share our strengths, support each
other in mission, and challenges each of us to live fully the
charism we share. Anything I may have done was made possible because
of this. As grateful as I am for this recognition, I am even more
indebted to the associates and religious who have been a support
and encouragement to me and enabled me to reach out to others.”
According to NACAR Executive Director, Ellen O’Connell,
SC, the tenth anniversary of NACAR celebrates the development
of a grassroots network that has accomplished great things in
a short amount of time. This includes production of The Associate,
a grassroots publication that reports on the growing Associate
Movement in the United States and Canada, and the publication
of a landmark study on the Associate Movement in the U.S. titled
Partners in Mission: A Study of Associates and Religious in the
U.S. NACAR has grown along with Associate communities. “In
2002 we counted 27,400 Associates in the U.S. alone. Canadian
Associates add an additional 12,000+,” said O’Connell.
“This national conference gave each person attending a new
perspective on the Associate movement and how it is growing and
positively affecting the persons, the religious communities, and
the church,” reported conference co-chair Mary Jo Mersmann,
director of Associate program for the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati.
Ronald Rolheiser, OMI, award-winning author and lecturer, gave
the keynote address: Religious Charisms and the Spiritual Journey.
Rolheiser is currently president of the Oblate School of Theology
in San Antonio, Texas, and the author of The Holy Longing
and The Shattered Lantern.
In recommending Barbara Sharp, Sister Carla stated, “Barbara
was one of the first Associates to become Director of Associates
for a religious congregation. With the formation director of the
congregation, she created a set of modules for those seeking association.
Even more significant was her pastoral presence to Associates.
She was there for them, often going the extra mile just to be
present in grief and struggle. She worked to create days of retreat
and reflection shared by both vowed and Associates. In addition
to her ministry for the congregation, Barbara has also served
the Dominican Federation and NACAR. Partnership between vowed
Religious and Associates is central to her vision and ministry.
Barbara is an outstanding Associate, a woman who lives out the
relational bond that is at the heart of Association.”
Executive Director Ellen O’Connell,
SC-New York (right), presented the Lifetime Achievement Award
to Grace Mannion, RSM,
Receiving the first Lifetime Achievement Award was Grace Mannion,
RSM, NACAR’s founding board president. The nominations noted
“Sister Grace’s long-standing and outstanding contribution
to the Associate Movement in North America on the local, regional
and national levels. As director of Connecticut’s Extended
Mercy Program since 1987, Sister Grace, in collaboration with
a committee of Associates and Sisters, has established a formalized
program for admission to and continuation in Mercy Association.
In 1996, at the national meeting of Associates and Religious,
Sister Grace volunteered her assistance and experience. She became
the first NACAR Board President, serving in that capacity for
nine years. Her wisdom, experience and graciousness led the organization
through its difficult early days. Always fully informed, always
supportive, always consultative, always pleasantly and subtly
directive, Grace has worked diligently and well to play her part
in the developing world of Associate relationship.”
Anita Davidson, Coordinator of Associates for
the Dominican Sisters of Akron and Columbus preached at the vigil
Eucharist for Pentecost. Saturday evening also celebrated the
transition of leadership from founding Executive Director, Ellen
O'Connell, SC, to new Executive Director, Catherine Schwemer,
Attendees from 33 states, four Canadian provinces, and Puerto
Rico chose from a variety of break-out sessions from local presenters
that included such topics as Praying With the Labyrinth, The Spirituality
of Justice and Peacemaking, Writing As a Means of Personal Growth,
Spirituality in the Workplace, Peering Into the Future of Associate
Relationship, and more.
They explored the theme “The Rivers of Living Water Flow
From Within” during the conference, which was hosted by
local members of the organization at the Cintas Center on the
campus of Xavier University, Cincinnati.