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providence

Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma - any experience?

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providence

I am wondering if anyone has experience with the Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma. I am really interested in the order and feel very attracted to their spirituality and apostolates. Nothing in my interactions with them so far gives me pause at all, and this post is really borne out of my past experience which has led me to always ask questions of young orders (as they were founded in 1973). I had a bad experience with the SSVM/IVE in the past (iveinfo.org if you are unfamiliar), another young order, and so I want to make sure to put some feelers out before going any further.

The sisters (apparently enthusiastically) hosting Card. Law after he presided over the Boston sexual abuse crisis is a huge red flag for me. But then, it could be an isolated incident—still, the order isn't that big, so one superior's attitude is significant.

Anyway, I guess what I'm asking: is there anything someone discerning with them should know? Do they have problematic "recruiting" (rather than discernment) tactics, issues with secrecy, any known abuse?

Thanks for any knowledge or experience you can provide. And if you don't have anything to add but you see this post, please keep me in your prayers as I discern my vocation! Thank you.

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OnlySunshine

This is a great order with no problems whatsoever.  I visited them in November 2011, but it was not the order for me.  I found nothing bad at all.  They are an offshoot of Sisters of Mercy of the Americas - they wanted to go back to using the habit and veil.  I thought their liturgy was beautiful and there was a great family atmosphere there.  I highly recommend going on a scheduled discernment retreat.  You get to stay in the guest house which is away from any of the convents (which was a little unusual; the retreat participants were on their own at night) and we made rounds to each convent in the Alma, MI area.  Since I was staying a little longer to get a better return flight rate, I ended up going with the Vocation Director back to her convent in Saginaw and she drove me and another participant to the Flint airport the next day. :)

Here are some old threads to peruse:

http://www.phatmass.com/phorum/topic/111379-religious-sisters-of-mercy-alma-michigan/

http://www.phatmass.com/phorum/topic/115785-religious-sisters-of-mercy-in-alma-mi/

 

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providence

Thanks so much, OnlySunshine! I have also gotten some very positive private messages from this thread and am really grateful to everyone who is reaching out :)

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NadaTeTurbe

My parish priest goes to their motherhouse when he is back on the american continent. He always spoke about them with love and enthusiasm ! As a priest, he had to work to take part in the reform of a problematic community, and he was the spiritual director for a friend who was spiritually abused, so I trust him with his judgement. When he is back from holidays and his retreats in Alma, he always look happier, relaxed and smiling (and he absolutely want me to meet them.) 

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Nunsuch

I should say at the outset that I have no brief for this one way or the other, but to say that the Alma community broke away from the mainstream RSMs because they wanted to wear a habit/veil is really not fair to either group, and somewhat superficial. (True, most RSMs today do not wear a habit--but some do, and certainly many did at the time of the split-off). The Alma community decided they wanted a more traditional form of religious life, including corporate ministries and traditional conventual lifestyle. They were also, in the early years, under the spiritual influence of a controversial priest (now deceased) who played major roles as well in the spirituality of the Regina Laudis Benedictines and the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist. [The priest was Fr. Francis Prokes; if you want more information about the controversy, you can google him.] Prokes encouraged the Alma community to break off, as well as the FSEs (from the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in LaCrosse, Wisconsin). 

Again, I'm not trying to incite controversy, but just to be factually correct. I do not know any members of the Alma community personally, and have nothing negative to say about any of them. I'm sure they are very lovely women.

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OnlySunshine
2 hours ago, Nunsuch said:

I should say at the outset that I have no brief for this one way or the other, but to say that the Alma community broke away from the mainstream RSMs because they wanted to wear a habit/veil is really not fair to either group, and somewhat superficial. (True, most RSMs today do not wear a habit--but some do, and certainly many did at the time of the split-off). The Alma community decided they wanted a more traditional form of religious life, including corporate ministries and traditional conventual lifestyle. They were also, in the early years, under the spiritual influence of a controversial priest (now deceased) who played major roles as well in the spirituality of the Regina Laudis Benedictines and the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist. [The priest was Fr. Francis Prokes; if you want more information about the controversy, you can google him.] Prokes encouraged the Alma community to break off, as well as the FSEs (from the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in LaCrosse, Wisconsin). 

Again, I'm not trying to incite controversy, but just to be factually correct. I do not know any members of the Alma community personally, and have nothing negative to say about any of them. I'm sure they are very lovely women.

That's what one of the RSM Sisters said during our retreat.  I don't remember the whole story, but I do remember that they wanted to bring back the traditional dress.  The habit is not the important part of religious life, but it's a good part of the witness.

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krissylou
On 1/10/2017 at 11:48 AM, OnlySunshine said:

This is a great order with no problems whatsoever.  

I don't have anything bad to say about the Alma RSM, but there is no order on earth that has "no problems whatsoever."

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OnlySunshine
3 hours ago, krissylou said:

I don't have anything bad to say about the Alma RSM, but there is no order on earth that has "no problems whatsoever."

This is why I don't post much any more.  I'm tired of nitpicking...

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LittleWaySoul

NO WAY. I rarely come on this board but I came here just now thinking to post a thread about this order. A priest friend of mine is trying to set me up to visit them, haha. So cool that I'm not the only one looking at them!

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I<3BVM

I know someone who visited this community and actually thought it would be a good fit for me with the exception of the fact that they don't live poverty in a really concrete way.  I am not saying that's necessarily a strike against them; it depends on what you are looking for.  Most communities do not interpret poverty like the Franciscans do, and so do not live in physical/material poverty.  The emphasis may be more on the fact that nothing belongs to anyone personally (especially among Benedictines; St. Benedict's view of poverty was one of personal non-possession of goods).  So this is just something to be aware of about this community, though it may be obvious enough since they need many things (e.g., modern technology) for their apostolate.

I'm guessing there have probably been discussions on here before about religious poverty vs. what our culture things of as poverty; I'm not trying to open a can of worms here, hehe... :rolleyes:

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I<3BVM

I thought of another thing my friend who visited RSM said... she made the comment, "They try to be contemplative/active."  It's been awhile since I've taken a real in depth look at their website, but when I did I don't remember having gotten that impression.  So that's just another thing about them that's good to know- that they are perhaps a bit more contemplative than some other active communities (which in my opinion is really amesome!).

Edited by I<3BVM
typo

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I<3BVM

Thanks for the insight, Nunsuch.  In support of your comment, I have to say that I recently was surprised to learn that the Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal are actually far more contemplative than most people realize!

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Spem in alium
16 hours ago, Nunsuch said:

There are many forms of contemplative practice, of course. Part of exploring the spirituality of particular communities is determining whether THEIR forms of prayer (including contemplation) are life-giving for you.

Exactly! :like2:

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OnlySunshine
On 1/11/2017 at 8:25 PM, OnlySunshine said:

This is why I don't post much any more.  I'm tired of nitpicking...

I really wish I could delete this post.  I had a VERY rough day the day this was posted and I didn't mean to sound snarky.  It just really doesn't make sense when someone pulls one sentence out of a paragraph to criticize.  I know that every order has its problems, but these Sisters have had nothing to criticize from the public eye that I am aware of.  They even helped start CMSWR, from what I understand, and are still on the board of directors.  Other religious orders use their psychiatrist's services for psychologist testing of candidates - including Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration.  I thoroughly loved visiting with them and thought that I was called there, but it was not a genuine call - more like deep respect and admiration.  Their liturgy and prayers were incredibly powerful and moving and I was so glad I got to experience it - I was there even longer than some of the other retreatants, so I was able to experience another day and a half after everyone else went back home.  :)

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NP4BBZ

I was a RSM of ALMA and left a year after taking first vows.  My advice to anyone searching...make sure you spend ENOUGH time with them before you enter. My experience prior to and while in the convent was that we all show our "happy" go lucky selves when women are visiting.  Trust me..its not always happy go lucky or even peaceful.  Be watchful and pray.  Make sure you feel you can trust them with anything you say or do.  Unfortunately I found that this was impossible in my time there.  The reasons I was there for more than 4 years was because I 100% believed that I was to be a Sister of Mercy of Alma and that God had called me there....but for many reasons, I found that I needed to leave.  I was not "helped" to leave.  I finally had to walk out or I thought I would die.  Not to scare anyone, but be vigilant.  Many stay with this order, many do not.  

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BarbaraTherese
On ‎11‎/‎01‎/‎2017 at 11:42 AM, OnlySunshine said:

The habit is not the important part of religious life, but it's a good part of the witness.

:like2:

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