On May 3, 1981, the Sisters of the Most Precious Blood community joined many former CPPS members to explore a new concept: Partners on Pilgrimage, which would be a new relationship between vowed members and non-vowed members of the Church. The proposal for the pioneering new program was presented at the 1986 General Chapter of the Sisters of the Most Precious Blood with the following rationale:
We are living in a period when the number of ordained priests and professed religious is dwindling. The vitality of the Church depends more and more upon the active participation of the laity in all aspects of the Church’s mission. Fortunately, the laity has responded generously in our parishes, in our parochial schools, in social justice organizations and in many other ministries. These same lay Catholics are expressing a hunger for more opportunities for spiritual development and formation.
There is, then, a general need for more collaboration between clergy, religious and laity in the mission of the Church. In microcosm, our community can participate in this collaboration by sharing the wealth of our spiritual heritage with the laity and by receiving, in turn, the support of their prayer, their challenge and their dedication.
Sr. Joan Klaas and her Council approved the program of extended membership on April 24, 1989. Sr. Alice Regine Zipfel, Jeanne Donovan, Mary Lee Rovira and Joan Bruen developed guidelines, which were approved by Sr. Joan and the Council on June 20, 1989. Sr. Mary Caecilia Sullivan and Sr. Doris Rechtiene were appointed as the program’s first coordinators. And in June 1990, Sr. Joann Fischer replaced Sr. Doris when she was assigned to minister in South America.
During Sr. Joann’s term, Lorraine Cully became the first layperson appointed as a co-director, and the first Commitment Ceremony of the Partners program took place on September 15, 1990, initiating three: Peggy Miller, Roy Miller and Eileen Rogers. The ceremony was held in St. Joseph’s Chapel during the evening Vesper service, followed by a reception in the dining room.
Sr. Joann served as coordinator until the summer of 1994 when Sr. Elaine Lamm and Rose Meyer were appointed. The Partners Program continued to grow and flourish between 1990 and 2001 with membership extending into Finland and South America.
In 2001, the Leadership Team appointed Sr. Carol Orf co-director of Partners with Lorraine Cully. Sr. Carol and Lorraine gathered with all Partners and Sisters to assess the group’s needs. They discovered a desire for a deeper spiritual journey. To reflect this aspiration, the group’s name changed from Partners to CPPS Partners in Mission.
In September 2002, CPPS Partners in Mission and contact Sisters were divided into Small Faith Communities, each with a specific mission outreach in cooperation with the Sisters of the Most Precious Blood. The Small Faith Communities chose two leaders and a Leadership Training Workshop was conducted in January 2003. Sr. Carol Orf and Rick Heitman served as co-directors of the program until 2014.
In November 2012, a volunteer ad hoc committee of Partners and Sisters Fran Raia and Lucy Meissen, members of the Leadership Team, began looking at a new structure for Partners in Mission with regards to lay leadership. After two years of prayer, discussion, research, and discernment, the new structure was put in place. In 2014, the first CPPS Partners in Mission Governing Board was appointed, and the first lay director was hired. Members of the first Governing Board include Debbie Whited, Dawn Boschert, Susan Buerkle, Sandy Hosack, Lori Larkin, Mary Reynolds, and Sister Advisors Sr. Ginny Jaskiewicz and Sr. Barb Schlatter. Debbie Whited was hired as the part-time Director. Sr. Susan Borgel serves the group with Board formation.
Continuing the rich tradition, Small Faith Communities meet monthly to pray, share faith, learn about Precious Blood Spirituality, enrich their own spirituality, and plan their outreach to the mission of the Sisters of the Most Precious Blood and /or greater community. The Junior Partners, in Bolivia, meet with Sr. Julie Wolf after school to pray for their families and community and to spend quiet time listening to God, in addition to receiving help with their homework. Currently there are nearly 80 CPPS Partners in Mission in the united States, Finland, and Bolivia and nearly 50 Junior Partners in Mission in Bolivia.
The Sisters of the Most Precious Blood continue to invite and welcome laypeople who feel called to live our charism of reconciliation as CPPS Partners in Mission! Learn more.