The fourth annual Leadership Convocation, a gathering of nearly 400 ministers from the Diocese of Green Bay, was co-sponsored by the diocesan Departments of Stewardship & Pastoral Services; Lay Ministry Formation; Education; Evangelization and Worship; and Communications.
The convocation was designed for those in ministry leadership roles including priests, deacons, parish directors and Catholic school administrators, as well as those involved in parish ministries.
“Those in church leadership are constantly called upon to be a compassionate presence for others,” said Mary Ann Otto, convocation co-organizer. “Our ministers are out in the field doing the work. They offer so much and need to be inspired.”
According to Otto, scheduling Sr. Joyce — who is booked solid through 2011 as a convocation speaker, began nearly two years ago. Her keynote address, titled, “Compassionate Presence,” focused on affirming and strengthening compassion in both personal and ministerial life.
“Compassion is sometimes taken for granted,” said Sr. Joyce, a Servant of Mary. “The foundation of compassion is about oneness — we are united to each other. This can be the hardest when the person is an enemy or a person we don’t like.”
Sr. Joyce has been a retreat guide and spiritual director for more than 30 years and her keynote speech at the convocation was highly anticipated.
“I read Joyce’s books and wanted to hear her speak on such an inspiring topic,” said Sr. Madonna Swintkoske, a Sister of St. Francis of the Holy Cross. “The topic was so excellent; all of us are at some stage of hunger for a closer relation with God.”
Deacon Mike Schmidt, from Nativity of Our Lord Parish in Green Bay, said he attended the convocation for three reasons: “I came to hear Sr. Rupp speak, to be a part of a great gathering of the extended pastoral team, and as a deacon I need the continued inspiration.”
“It was a great opportunity to see an amazing speaker,” said Patti Christensen, pastoral associate for St. Jude Parish in Oshkosh.
Sr. Joyce separated her dialogue on compassion into three areas of understanding — awareness, attitude and action.
Highlighting awareness, Sr. Joyce noted that many times compassion is forgotten because suffering is not always known, reiterating the need to be aware.
“The lack of awareness leads to the lack of compassion,” Sr. Joyce said.
Focusing on attitude, Sr. Joyce stressed that the people of God need to find reasons to respect others.
“We are all one,” Sr. Joyce said. “The deeper we go we are more alike than we are different. It’s about getting beneath the surface and putting ourselves in others’ skin. Don’t judge just on what is on the surface.”
The last aspect of compassion Sr. Joyce spoke on is action, or being and doing.
“Just being with a person can’t take away the suffering, but just by being there can help,” Sr. Joyce said. “The little things we do we don’t even realize how much they impact people as they do.”
During her address, Sr. Joyce stressed that in order to be compassionate to others, individuals need to be compassionate to themselves.
“It is important to set boundaries and take care of yourself,” Sr. Joyce said. “If we aren’t, we can become angry, resentful, crabby, tired and we can lose the likeness for what we are doing. It is important to acknowledge your own pain and suffering. If we avoid our own pain, it makes it harder to meet the pain of others.”
Well-known singer and storyteller ValLimar Jansen served as the afternoon keynote speaker with her presentation, “Faith and Spirituality.” Breakout sessions were led by Sr. Joyce; Bishop Robert Morneau; Kristina DeNeve, director of spirituality and evangelization; and Sr. Ann Rehrauer, director of the Department of Evangelization and Worship.