Community is at the Heart of Theresians
Letter from NLT Chair, Anita Roberts-Long, Roses on the Teche, Lafayette, Louisiana
For two years, members of the USA National Leadership Team met only virtually doing the work of their committees through emails, texts, and Zoom meetings. In preparing for this year’s in-person Annual Meeting, no member--even those finishing a three-year term--had ever experienced a traditional Annual Meeting, a celebratory gathering and intense, finalizing workshop all rolled into one.
When we came together physically for the first time, we had already prepared each other for long-awaited hugs. Normally these would be hugs reserved for the end of a meeting--hugs that say goodbye, farewell, until we meet again. Instead, these hugs were like genuine long-lost reunion hugs because of the community we shared this past year, and for some two or three years without the feel of getting together.
Unsurprisingly, we discovered the Theresian sense of community is one that transcends the physical. The work we did and the relationships we formed long-distance were just as present had we been regularly meeting in our own Theresian community’s homes, though the distance of NLT representation necessitates creative logistics. It sure was nice to celebrate the work we did this past year while those Covid years drew us apart.
As we worked this past year, we thought about using platforms like Zoom to keep communities connected during emergencies like Covid or natural disasters or when a member can’t leave home but can still participate virtually. We also put effort into researching whether displaced Theresians would join a virtual Theresian community and what that might look like. And we continue to open our minds to the idea of forming new communities in more remote areas by having mentors use platforms like Zoom for collaboration.
What we learned on the USA-NLT during this time is that our sacred spaces are malleable and evolve but community is at the heart of Theresians. The space we create reflects our openness to welcome new sisters and share Theresian values together. It is something inside of us. So that no matter where we are physically, our sacred space of sisterhood remains steadfast.