On Feb. 19, 2015, The Catholic Globe initiated its series of articles highlighting the Year of Consecrated Life, promoted by Pope Francis. The year concluded Feb. 2, as does our series of articles with this edition.
Responding to Vatican II’s call to include participatory models of organization, the Sisters For Christian Community (SFCC) emerged as a distinct community in 1970 – to give witness in the form of the traditional vows of obedience, chastity and poverty, expressed as listening, loving and serving.
Lillanna Kopp (Sister Audrey Kopp), a scholar of anthropology and sociology, in the years immediately following Vatican II, traversed the United States and Canada speaking at “Chapters of Renewal” and diocesan sisters’ councils about the options of structural renewal within women’s
religious communities, as called for by the Second Vatican Council of 1962-65.
Kopp believed there were sisters and women who sought a structure and form of religious life outside of a traditional congregational organization, who still wished to serve to their fullest capacity according to the Gospel premise. She envisioned these women transcending geographical distances and brought into a network of communication and unity. Kopp created a profile that delineated a new type of community based on a common charism of unity in Christ.
In August 1971, almost 40 women, inspired by Kopp, gathered in Dunrovin, Minn., to chart their future together. They refined and affirmed an official document of identity and purpose, and stressed simplicity, community and solidarity as their hallmarks.
These women resolved first to explore a new structure of religious life – one that embodied the vision and challenge of Vatican II – solidarity and equality through self-determination and collegiality. Through this new structure, SFCC intended to give witness to the church as a community bed-rocked in their shared spirituality that found its source in the Christ prayer, “that all may be one.”
By 1995 SFCC defined itself as a “prophetic-ecclesial community” driven to “speak the truth of love and grow in the maturity of Christ” (Eph 4:15). SFCC described itself as a non-canonical community of consecrated women who are self-determining, self-regulating and self-governing.
Since its inception, SFCC have gathered every summer in general assembly to construct their network of communication, to affirm their unity and commitment and to explore ever widening parameters of ministry. In the 40 years that have passed since that first assembly, more than 1,000 women have embraced the order. As of 2015, there are 31 SFCC regions spread throughout 14 nations,
SFCC may live alone or with others. Community is maintained through personal contacts, regional and international gatherings and newsletters. SFCC is collegial in all decisions that affect the community. Each member is self-supporting and dedicates her energies and talents to the service of building Christian community. SFCC minister in parishes and the professional world.
In the Diocese of Sioux City, Sister Mary Ann Nacke represents the Sisters For Christian Community.
The daughter of Joseph and Maude (Barlow) Nacke grew up in Remsen and graduated from St. Mary’s High School. The religious life was no stranger to her as two of her aunts were Benedictine nuns.
She was a member of the Sisters of St. Francis of Dubuque, serving in the Diocese of Sioux City in schools, parishes and as a mental health worker in the chaplain’s department at the Mental Health Institute in Cherokee, before embracing the Sisters For Christian Community about 35 years ago.
“I didn’t separate myself from my former community because I didn’t like religious life or because I became alienated from them,” she insisted. “I still have a great deal of love and affection for the sisters.”
In joining the Sisters For Christian Community, Sister Mary Ann pointed to the blessings associated with being a member of the order.
“I simply wanted a place in my ministry that was more in line with Vatican II,” she said. “If you believe that God works in all circumstances and situations, then you can understand why I praise and thank God for all the good that has come to me.”
Sister Mary Ann retired as a marriage and family therapist after teaching for 22 years at Siouxland Family Practice Resendency. Involved for decades with the Charismatic Renewal, she continues to work with events coordinated by the Blessed Sacrament Spirit-led Intercessory Prayer Group.
More information on the Sisters for Christian Community may be found at sfccinternational.org.