Collaboration: It’s Part of Our DNA
By Guadalupe Guajardo, SNJM
I like to think of collaboration simply as bringing things together as firmly as possible. As we examine our history, it’s very apparent that this dynamic element of collaboration is in our DNA as Sisters of the Holy Names.
We have been carrying out our charism and ministries through our daily activities in a collaborative spirit since our beginning days. Mother Marie Rose Durocher was integral in collaboration involved in running her priest brother’s parish in Quebec, Canada. And before long, she collaborated with two other young women to birth the Society of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (SNJM) in 1844.
Archival records also show we’ve been collaborating with the wider society ever since our arrival in Oregon in 1859. When babies were left at our doorstep, we founded the Christie Home for orphaned children. We’ve partnered with other religious orders in the Pacific Northwest since the arrival of our foundresses. We stepped in where the need for girls’ education was needed, while the Providence Sisters took the lead in the health and medical domains. This was a coordinated effort under the guidance of Bishop Ignace Bourget of Montreal, under whose patronage our Congregation began.
Collaboration has two cousins, "cooperation" and "coordination." Let's first understand the subtle but important distinctions in how they are related and deserving of their own “personalities.” This helps us notice how collaborative we in fact have been and continue to be today.
Coordination is about efficiency. Our Province managers and staff, with the guidance and direction of the PLT, coordinate many of our functions, from the separately incorporated institutions to health and well-being of our Sisters. Cooperation is about assisting and supporting larger efforts. We sit on the board of directors of nonprofits that ask for our presence.
Our Associates and Lay Consecrated women also cooperate in living out our vision, mission and charism. Recently, Sisters stepped in to cooperate with a vision of one our Associates who was inspired by the concept of intentional (pioneering) communities. This was one of the exciting dreams embraced during our 2016 General Chapter, the gathering every five years that brings together SNJM representatives from throughout the world.
Collaboration is undoubtedly hard work. Yet our Sisters happily take it on, knowing that their many joint efforts with others add up to a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. Today’s collaborations aren’t just accomplishing a lot for internal and external ministries. They’re helping us to reimagine religious life itself.
Whether we inch our way or make quantum leaps in the transformation of our SNJM religious order, we must stay steadfast in our commitment to working with others. No doubt the future will continue to be marked by the thumbprint of our SNJM DNA, leading us to ongoing collaboration, coordination and cooperation for the good of our society and world.
Guadalupe Guajardo, SNJM, is a member of the SNJM U.S.-Ontario Province Leadership Team.