by Sister Annie Klapheke, SC

reflecting with Acts 4:32-35

“The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common.  With great power the apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great favor was accorded them all.”  (Acts 4:32-33)

I entered my first ISP retreat with a bit of anxiety.  I was discerning membership on the team, but first needed to experience the retreat as a full participant.  My fear came from wondering if I would be able to connect with the other women on the retreat.  I did not have personal experience of addiction or recovery, and at the time I was in formation to become a Catholic Sister.  Would I be able to find common ground and welcome with women whose life experience was likely so different from mine?

We began the retreat by pairing up with another retreatant and sharing our stories.  As my partner shared, she described life in her recovery center.  She spoke of the strong bonds with the other women she lived with, she even referred to it as a sisterhood.  She described how these relationships were essential for her to feel supported and to be accountable to her values.  As I listened, I was amazed – life in the recovery shelter was so similar to life in the convent!  This was the common ground we shared: a profound experience of community.

As we hear in today’s first reading from Acts, community was also essential in the early church.  The community of believers was of ‘one heart and mind’ and that unity allowed them to have great power!  God never intended for us to journey the path of faith, or recovery, alone.  We need each other.  We need community.  It is a place of support, encouragement, constructive challenge, acceptance and unconditional love.  God still speaks, and often that voice is most clearly heard through community.

Reflection Questions: Do you ever feel a kinship with someone seemingly different from you? When has a sense of community and shared experience transformed you?

Sister Annie has been a member of the Cincinnati ISP team for 7 years. She is a Sister of Charity of Cincinnati and ministers as a dietitian at a free health center.