A Time to Unfold Anew

A Time to Unfold Anew

A Time to Unfold Anew

A Time to Unfold Anew

A Time to Unfold Anew

A Time to Unfold Anew

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By Liam Michael Quinn, Communications Manager

A momentous occasion took place on April 19 when over 1200 sisters and partners-in-mission came together to hear the Congregational Leadership Team (CLT) present their New Narrative. The event, hosted with the support of the International Formation Team, created a space to unfold anew the deeper message of the New Narrative and facilitate deeper conversations in communities and ministries around the Congregation.

With anticipation, the virtual doors were opened and attendees enthusiastically arrived in their hundreds with smiling faces and waving hands embracing each other and connecting through the gift of technology.

Together with the CLT, Sr Joan Marie Lopez, Congregational Leader, attended from the Spirituality Center at Angers. During her opening welcome message, Sr Joan spoke and greeted participants “mindful of the sacred legacy entrusted to all of us by our founders, Saint John Eudes and Mary Euphrasia”. She spoke about how she hoped their contributions during the session would shape “the present time and a future that will illuminate love, justice, compassion, and transformation”.

She explained the reason for the event was so that “we can take a synodal journey ready to implement our Chapter Calls to Action in an integrated way… aware that such a vision requires a commitment to inclusivity, empathy, and the relentless pursuit of justice and reconciliation”.

Congregational Councilors, Srs Cristina Rodriguez, Sadhani Walmillage, and Edith Olaguer then invited those present to launch ‘Into the Deep,’ preparing their hearts to enter into the depths of their being.

The CLT presented their message on ‘A Time to Unfold Anew’ in which they shared about their experiences since they began their mandate and about their learnings from the leadership-membership sessions that took place across the five continents last year. In particular, Sr Erika Sanchez spoke about the need for “healing and reconciliation of wounds of the past that were caused intentionally or unintentionally”. She also spoke about the new governance structure that integrates all Calls to Action: “one that is inclusive, and that promotes participation, mission, and collaboration”.

The facilitator of the event, Paula Sgherza, then invited participants to reflect on the words from the CLT and ask themselves what stirred within them during their sharing and why they felt this internal stirring.

Sr Mirjam Beike spoke about the shifts committed to in our Chapter Direction Statement: “to embrace anew what is emerging.” Sr Yolanda Borbon explained how this shift “necessitates shifts in mindset, behavior, and systems because transformation is a universal ongoing process that is happening all the time.”  Sr Sadhani Walmillage described these shifts as the “walk on the journey of radical transformation… as we strive to build the culture of encounter, one drop of life at a time… and to create a universal culture of justice”.

Sr Mirjam continued by talking of the need to “put in place systems and structures that allow us to let go of our assumptions of scarcity and diminishment” and “instead to embrace the truth of our abundance and generativity. Then we will rediscover the vibrancy of our charism and mission”. Sr Yolanda returned to explain how central to this transformation is the need to “transition from a silo and individualistic approach to an integrated way of being and doing”

“For this to happen”, explained Sr Sadhani, “we need to create sacred spaces that enable each person to relate to the other in mature and life-giving ways which include transparency and accountability”.

Participants were, once again, invited by Paula to reflect on these and on what stirred within them.

Sr Josita Corera reminded those attending how at the Chapter a commitment was made to radical transformation with Sr Marie-Françoise Mestry explaining how inclusivity is at the heart of this journey of translation, saying how “it includes actively seeking out the marginalized voices… and dismantling barriers to participation”. She went on to say how the “roles and responsibilities of the Congregational Offices are all part and parcel of the six Calls to Action” and that “the responsibility of the Congregational Offices cannot be understated: they play a crucial role in implementing our vision and values”.

On the theme of the new governance structure, Sr Marie-Françoise shared with those present that the timeline that was set initially for the formation of Regions has been extended so that Units can use an assessment tool that will be made available for the process to continue effectively.

All present were then allocated into smaller breakout rooms for group dialogue in which they had the opportunity to share with each other what they saw as the biggest shift needed in the Congregation today, including asking themselves what their contribution could be to making this shift. An online form was created for participants to share their individual or group responses from their sharing to be collated and presented to the CLT.

After 30 mins, everyone was brought back into the main virtual room, Paula Sgherza, invited attendees to come forward and share one or two points from their smaller group dialogue.

Sr Marie Noel Tendeng from Senegal shared how she felt the change first needed to be internal before it could become external and that it would be very difficult for the whole of the Congregation to reach change if it is not “internalized in each sister and partner-in-mission”. Following this, Sr Filomena Reis from Portugal shared how she felt it was very important to “be in partnership with all partners-in-mission to achieve change”.

In an attempt to offer all participants a voice, attendees were invited to contribute one word to describe what they thought was the biggest shift needed in the Congregation today.  The most popular words that appeared included inner transformation, reconciliation, spiritual leadership, and courage.

Before Sr Joan offered her closing remarks, Sr Melania Jung, IFT team member based at the Spirituality Centre, and Lizzie Cody, Director of the Office of Mission Effectiveness for the Province of Mid-North America, offered an invitation to all those present to come and join the new IFT series of online reflections. All sisters and partners-in-mission are welcome to join these online events to learn more about spirituality and grow in their contemplative dimension.

The wonderfully life-giving sessions came to a close with an honest and thought-provoking closing discourse by our Congregational Leader in which she thanked all sisters and partners-in-mission for their presence and participation.

These two hours heralded a time to unfold a new signaled in the hearts of all those present a zeal that is unique to us as sisters and partners-in-mission of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd.

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