Lantern Lights Associate Group
"Being a Presentation associate has helped me have a closer relationship with God," claims Judy Munshower. "Because of our group's activities, the books we've read and discussed, I am more aware of the world around me and my place in it." Judy is a member of Lantern Lights, a Dubuque associate group composed of six associates and three Presentation sisters. Meeting monthly, the group focuses on prayer, discussion, community and service.
One of the service projects the group engaged in was serving a meal at Catholic Worker Hope House that currently offers food and shelter to homeless men.
Seven years ago, the group initiated the idea of having a garage sale to benefit the ministries of the Sisters of the Presentation and have continued to help plan, organize and operate it each year. The associates who embrace the works of Nano Nagle and generously lend their support in ways to further that mission impresses Sister James Marie Gross. Sister states, "They give me much hope for the future of our mission."
For the fourth year, the group is sponsoring a child through the Christian Foundation for Children and the Aging. Meilyn, age five, lives with her mother, two brothers and grandparents in a small tin sheet house with no electricity or water in Gregorio, Costa Rico. The group's financial support of Meilyn provides Christian teaching, medical/dental care, clothing, food stipends, recreational activities, tuition (when she reaches school age), school books, uniforms and supplies, and birthday and Christmas gifts. Associate Linda Dolphin is pleased to be connected with a group whose intention is to further Nano Nagle's mission to the poor and marginalized through prayer and action. "I appreciate the opportunities arranged for us to take part in, such as speakers, retreats, liturgies and other special occasions. I really treasure my friendship with the sisters and other associates," she says.
In June 2008, the group visited associate Billie Greenwood and Paul Allen's places of summer ministry in Davenport, Iowa: the food pantry, the homeless shelter, the community gardens and the Humility of Mary Housing project. Billie is appreciative of the experiences and wisdom shared globally by people who live and minister in the footsteps of Nano Nagle. She shares, "It is a great support to network with women and men who uphold values like mine, values that run counter to those of the prevailing culture."
Being a member of the Lantern Lights group is uplifting, energizing and life-giving for Sister Julia Wingert. "Our presence to and with one another - whether sharing the happenings of our lives, discussing a book or engaging in some outreach project - enriches me, broadens my horizons and continually challenges me to live more simply and with increased compassion for others and for our world," states Sister Julia.
In reading, reflecting and discussing the book, Voluntary Simplicity, by Duane Elgin, the group raised their awareness of issues and concerns in the environment. Each member was challenged to live more simply in the choices made in her daily life. "Being an associate offers me a way to learn more about the challenges of my faith and a way to try to live up to some of those challenges," shares Ann Cooper.
Mags Young knows that she is more aware of marginalized people and environmental issues as a Presentation associate by participating in the Advent project, visiting a depressed area in Davenport, helping with the garage sale and reading information sent through mailings. She states, "I feel more connected to Nano's intended legacy. Even though I know I could be doing more, my connection to the associate partnership has brought me â€˜one pace beyond' where I would not otherwise be."
Sister Janice Hancock considers it a blessing to be a member of an associate group. "We further our knowledge of our foundress and encourage one another through discussion, sharing and working together," says Sister. Associate Sue Bennett expresses that for her, being a Presentation associate means "supporting and participating in a community whose charism is important and meaningful."
In her book, Turning to One Another, Margaret Wheatley writes: "Relationships are all there is. Everything in the universe exists because it is in relationship with everything else. Nothing exists in isolation. We have to stop pretending that we are individuals who can go it alone." The Lantern Lights are truly in relationship partnering in the Presentation mission of serving the poor.
Left to right: Judy Munshower, Sister Janice Hancock, Linda Dolphin, Sue Bennett, Ann Cooper, Mags Young, Sister James Marie Gross and Sister Julia Wingert.