At Evening Prayer Thursday, April 23, 2020, the Springfield Dominican Sisters celebrated the life of Sister Charlotte Rebbe, OP, who was buried the previous week. In 1989 Sister Charlotte became the founding director of the Springfield Dominican Associate Program.
We reached back into the archives to find the first letter Sister Charlotte wrote to the sisters about this new venture she was leading us toward. What a pleasure to see how well her vision has withstood the test of time!
More than 30 years later, her letter speaks to the heart and spirit of the associate program. The message still calls and encourages us today: sisters, associates, associate candidates and those considering becoming Springfield Dominican Associates.
Dear Sisters, (and Associates)
It is with a sense of enthusiasm and joy that I begin my community assignment as the first Director of our Associate Program. We as a community have so much to offer and so much to gain by inviting women and men to share in the spirit and mission of our Community.
We have shared our spirit and convictions with those with whom we work—in our schools, in our hospitals, in our parishes, in our varied ministries, with our families and in our one-to-one relationships. A close bond has been established with the people who believe in our mission to preach the Word. Many of these people desire to ritualize this identification with the Springfield Dominicans.
By Baptism all Christians are called to holiness. Through association we provide the opportunity for people to formalize their call to holiness through a contractual commitment. The commitment springs from a desire to deepen one’s relationship with God, and to involved in the ministry of the Word in whatever form one chooses – prayer, service, parish involvement, ministry to the elderly, etc.
The strength of the Associate program lies in the mutual sharing of Dominican values and the challenge to live them, in opportunities for spiritual and personal growth, and in supportive community between Sisters and Associates. It involves sharing the gifts and talents which one has received and which one continues to develop. It binds people together and gives them support as each person reaches out, in faith, assured that s/he is not alone.
The richness of the program is dependent upon the commitment and individual response of each Sister and Associate. Let us together accept this challenge to extend our charism and mission into the marketplace and be enriched by the giftedness and prayer life of each Associate.
Sister Charlotte Rebbe, OP
Associate Director, 1989 – 1995
Rest in peace, Sr. Charlotte!