Catholic sisters and nuns live in community in a wide variety of ways. Often we only think of community as living under the same roof, that is in “the convent” or “the monastery” but community actually takes many forms. Simply living under the same roof does not make a community. Likewise, living singly does not mean you are living alone or without community.

Since I’ve been an IHM Sister, I’ve lived various configurations of physical proximity but in all of them have striven to live deeply our IHM community life. I’ve lived singly with few IHMs around me because of the demands of my ministry; I’ve lived with 5 other sisters; I’ve lived with one other sister; and I’ve lived on our Motherhouse campus with nuns everywhere! Each way of living calls forth different aspects of living community.

Because our community like many others is ministerial based, our choices for community life are necessarily diverse so that we can respond to people’s needs. I’ve been told stories about how our sisters years ago heard the news that babies in Korea were dying because there was no one to hold them in the orphanages. The infants needed human cuddling to live and to grow. Our mother superior immediately sent nuns to Korea to minister by “simply” holding the babies. Didn’t think about the fact that we had no convent there or that there were only a handful of nuns she could send. She saw the need and knew that we could help.

I’ve also been thinking about a friend of mine who is in the national guard. She is stationed hours away from her home and family. She lives singly on base and gets together with her family whenever possible. Though certainly a struggle, her marriage and family life is not any less real or authentic. It is now expressed in new and different ways.

Today’s world is full of so many ways to live community and family life. While some of us live this community through physical proximity, many of us also experience community and family in ways that go beyond this proximity. In what ways do you experience this kind of community or family life?