What Is a Charism?

I’m taking a Vows class at Aquinas this year with one of the topics being on charism.  In Finding the Treasure, Sandra Schneiders calls charism “a grace given for the sake not only of the recipient but also and primarily for the upbuilding of the Church.”

In addition to the Dominican charism, rooted in the four pillars of community, prayer, study and ministry, there is one that is more particular to Sinsinawans, summed up in Fr. Samuel’s exhortation, “Let us set out for any place where the work is great and difficult, but where also with the help of the One who sends us, we shall open the way for the Gospel.”

I may not encounter the same physical hardships that Fr. Samuel and our founding Sisters did, but the work of opening the way for the Gospel can still be challenging, still often great and difficult.  The way seems key – a channel through which Gospel truths and values flow freely from one person, one group, to another and back; a channel that allows for ideas and perspectives to be safely voiced and respected.  Perhaps the way begins with a willingness to dialogue with the other?

How willing am I to invite dialogue and entertain different perspectives in the way that Dominic and Fr. Samuel did so well?  How well do I embrace our charism for the upbuilding of the Church … the entire Church … the “other”, who is also Church?

Sr. Kathy Flynn
St. Louis, MO  


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