Cities of Faith Associate Group
Once upon a time in Mason City, Iowa, in the late 1990s, Sisters Annette Kestel and Joan Brincks began the Presentation Associate Orientation Process with Harry and Mary Irene Stanton and Rita Cameron (now Sister Rita). Harry and Mary Irene first became involved with the Sisters of the Presentation in 1996 when they responded to a service opportunity to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Both expressed, "We are happy to be a part of this beautiful group and enjoy our sharing in the Presentation missions and ministries. The hospitality and spirit of the group is outstanding. We appreciate being associates."
During this same time, Sister Dolores Moes was working through the orientation process with Stephanie Jacobson in Forest City, Iowa. All four of the candidates made their initial commitment as Presentation associates on June 14, 2001, in Mason City.
"When I met Sister Dolores, I was exposed to the work and charism of the Presentation community. I wanted to be a part of this charism but did not have a vocation to be a sister," states Stephanie. "I accomplished this goal by becoming an associate. Although my health has limited my participation in associate activities, I feel that through prayer, meetings and e-mail, I am an active part of the Presentation charism."
In 2002, Julie Blomme and Sherry Booth, both from Forest City, joined the group. Julie states, "I joined the group because of their commitment to prayer, hospitality and service to others. As a teacher, I have ministered to children of all ages, with all sorts of challenges. I value the fact that my associate group does service projects for others throughout the year, whether we are creating gift baskets for children in Mississippi or collecting books and sending them to deserving organizations." Julie continues, "I especially enjoy having a group of people with whom I can share parts of my life and know that they love and support me through prayer and friendship." The Mason City and Forest City groups became one and chose the name "Cities of Faith."
Kathy Meinecke, Julie Duncan, Deb Blaul, Lucy Durnan and Jane Nagy, all from the Forest City area, studied and completed the orientation process next, joining the group in 2006. Sessions were led by Sister Dolores coming from Dubuque and Sister Joan from Mason City.
Jane Nagy feels blessed to belong to the Cities of Faith group. "Though we might be a small group, we have been active. I remember the Mother's Day baskets we prepared for the Crisis Intervention Center in Mason City, the meal we prepared and served at the Community Kitchen of North Iowa and the fellowship of our combined meetings with other groups. I have enjoyed the trips to the Presentation motherhouse and Sinsinawa for retreats. I can really feel the spirit of God among us."
Jane also shared that she values the discussion the group had on the Earth Charter and the efforts to be more environmentally friendly. "The five year plan to reduce our carbon footprint is challenging but worthwhile."
The Cities of Faith group has read and discussed books on hospitality, joy, forgiveness in the time of tragedy and the eternal presence of God's love. Many of these facets were part of their last book discussion of The Shack.
Year 2009 was spent studying with Jeff Duncan and Lydia McDonald as they participated in orientation. The group commented that each time they review the orientation materials, there is more to learn about the spirit and mission of Presentation Foundress, Nano Nagle, and the Presentation sisters. Both Jeff and Lydia made their commitment as Presentation associates in September 2009. As Lydia requested to become an associate, she reflects, "I've learned the importance of hospitality that the sisters exemplify every day in helping others. I want to be closer to God. Sisters Dolores and Joan are inspirational role models who continue to show us how we should live, like the apostles."
With the commitment of Jeff and Lydia, the Cities of Faith group totals 12. Sherry Booth and Lucy Durnan, two of the original members of the group, have moved from the area. The group makes every effort to keep in touch especially through phone calls. The group tries to meet once a month, alternating between Mason City and Forest City. They continue to pray and enjoy mission projects and discussions. They feel very fortunate and blessed to have Sisters Joan and Dolores to help guide them as they serve the Lord following the beautiful example set by Nano Nagle.
Sister Joan states, "I feel humbled to see and experience the faith shared by these associate men and women. I feel challenged to become more aware of those in need and to give of my service to them as I continue to be called 'one pace beyond.'"
Certainly, 'cities of faith' are being built and strengthened in the Mason City and Forest City areas as the Cities of Faith group journeys closer to God and shares their gifts with others.
Left to right: front row: Sister Joan Brincks, Julie Blomme, Jane Nagy, Jeffery Duncan, Mary Stanton, Harry Stanton; back row: Stephanie Jacobson, Kathy Meinecke, Julie Duncan and Lydia McDonald. Not pictured: Lucy Durnan, Deb Blaul, Sherry Booth and Sister Dolores Moes