By Sr. Krista Anderson

As we celebrate the new Word and Service Roster we are transitioning out of a dual candidacy process into a new separate Deaconess formation process. After years of dreaming and planning the “new” formation process for Deaconess candidates is underway. March 23 – 26, at the Cenacle Center in Chicago the Deaconess Community had our first Formation Event!

One piece of the new formation process is for our candidates to attend Formation Events, these events are also attended by our candidates on the “old” dual candidacy process as meeting their Investiture/Endorsement and Approval Retreat requirements. Formation Events are a time for candidates to learn more about the Deaconess Community, connect with candidates, Committee on Vocation and Education (CoVE) members, and sisters as they continue in their discernment process. Each Formation Event includes education, spiritual practices, theological reflection, worship, community and cohort time.

We gathered around the theme, “Ruth and Naomi: Bearing One Another’s Burdens”. We were blessed to be led in Bible Study by Dianne Burgant, Distinguished Professor Emerita of Biblical Studies at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, Sr. LaDonna Olson who led the candidates in various spiritual practices, and Sr. Barbara Collins served as our cohort leader.

Communal discernment is a thread that weaves itself in and out of the various components of the Formation Event. Candidates had time to connect with CoVE members in directed conversation around story, relationships, and call to community. It is through communal discernment that candidates may participate in the Rite of Accompaniment. Three candidates, Andrea Loveland (Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod), Megan McClinton (Lower Susquehanna Synod) and Jan Quirl (Southwestern Texas Synod) participated in this rite. The Rite of Accompaniment is the mutual commitment between the Deaconess Community and the candidate to continue the formation process. During the Rite of Accompaniment, the candidates received the Deaconess Community candidate pin.

The culmination of our first Formation Event marks and exciting time in the life of the Deaconess Community. Our new candidates described this time together as affirming, joyous, inspirational, uplifting, introspective, reflecting, informative, and, without a doubt fun!