In December, the Congregation of the Sisters of Bon Secours welcomed Simone Blanchard as the Director of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC). Simone shares with us a beautiful reflection of finding her place within the legacy of Bon Secours. Please join us in welcoming Simone! The photo included is Simone and her lovely family.
Sometimes, we must look back to see the way forward.
On November 1, 2024 (All Saints Day) Sister Rose Marie Jasinksi, Congregation Leader for the Sisters of Bon Secours, called me to offer me the job of Director of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC). On November 2 (All Souls Day) the official job offer came and on November 14 (my birthday) an announcement went out that I had officially accepted the position.
After 17 years working for Catholic Relief Services on international anti-poverty and climate change education and advocacy initiatives, my job, along with 30 others was eliminated due to budget cuts. I was devastated. This was yet another loss for me after losing my parents and in-laws in the span of four years. Still, I felt the Holy Spirt nudging me forward to something new. I began applying for jobs and discerning my future path. I remember seeing the JPIC job description with the Sisters and immediately thought of the first time I had attended a retreat at the RCC, nearly 15 years prior. I remember saying to myself, “If I ever leave CRS, this is where I want to work.” Little did I know that years later the Lord would offer me the opportunity to work with this beautiful congregation.
Fifteen years ago, my understanding of the charism of the Sisters was limited. I didn’t feel like it was my calling. I wasn’t cut out for the health care profession. It really was not until the last five years, after sitting with my parents and in-laws in their illness and death that I understood the power of healing, compassion and liberation. A charism rooted in the dignity of the human person and the gift of presence to the sick and dying. A charism that reaches beyond the hospital to our suffering earth, to migrants, victims of gun violence, and survivors of human trafficking near and far.
I began to read about the history of Bon Secours and discovered over and over again that I want the legacy of the Sisters of Bon Secours to be part of my legacy. I want to give back to this community the way they have so freely given to others. I want to share my humble gifts as we work together for a more just and humane world.
We are celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Sisters giving good help to the world. On May 18 (my mother’s birthday) we will celebrate the arrival of the Sisters in the United States in 1881. On that day Sr. Saint Ferdinand and Sr. Flavie stepped off the S.S. Parthia and arrived in New York on their way to Baltimore. Sr. Flavie in her acceptance letter wrote, “Above all I wonder that your choice should have fallen upon me for such a momentous work. It is true that it often pleases God to chose the most feeble, still I am far from being a foundation stone, especially in a country where we shall be the first Religious to exercise such a ministry but after all, my will is God’s will.”
Indeed 200 years later it is still a momentous work bringing healing, compassion and liberation to a world desperately in need. A momentous work I am blessed to be a part of.