I am Sister Colette Gélinas, the General Council’s referent for the Daughters of Jesus of the District of England. I would like to share with you some elements of my last visit which coincided with Holy Week and Easter.
In coming to meet my Sisters I have witnessed the life journey that the Lord is making in and through them.
The following phrases, inspired by the Acts of the General Chapter 2016, echo what I perceive of the experience of our Sisters in England:
Each one carries a treasure in pots of earthenware.
In going through both a time of fragility and of grace,
our Sisters are given the opportunity to live an exodus, a passage
from self-absorption to openness and communion,
from fear to abandonment and trust,
from doubt to hope.
Do this in memory of me
The small number of Sisters in the District and the limitations they face because of their age and health may appear to be a sign of fragility. Difficulties in moving around, doing what they would like to do, or in meeting the needs of the mission, are consequences of this. This reality, however, also allows each one to recognise the presence of the Lord who walks with them and to welcome a new meaning to life that illuminates the mission entrusted to them.
At this stage of their lives, the Sisters discover that ‘doing‘ gradually gives way to ‘being‘. The days offer more space to experience encounters with the Lord in prayer or in renewal.
On the other hand, fraternity, shown through multiple gestures and attitudes, opens the door to creativity and initiative. This is lived out among our Sisters in England, but also with the people they meet in their environment and with their families. Mutual help, encouragement, gratuity, celebration, and patience, become a gift to be received and shared. “We need one another”.
The richness of this fraternity is also made concrete by the attachment that our Sisters in England have to the Congregational Body. All the communication tools at their disposal offer the possibility to get closer to each other because we know that “we are one family”.
Giving your life for those you love
In a country that is increasingly multicultural and with diverse religious denominations, peace, acceptance of the other in his or her difference, and ecumenism are at the heart of the reality of our Sisters in England, in their desire to form the Body of Christ and to draw closer to their brothers and sisters.
On Good Friday, I had the joy of joining two Daughters of Jesus and believers from different churches in Peterborough … Catholic, Anglican, Methodist, Baptist, and Evangelical … in a ‘Walk of Witness’.
One of the organisers, who was sharing a reflection on a biblical text, addressed the crowd and asked, “Why are we here today?” After a few moments of silence, he replied, “We are here to say that no matter who we are or where we come from, God loves each and every one of us to the point of dying on a cross.”
I recognise this witness that our Sisters in England seek to pass on to the world today.
A life transformed by the Light of the Risen Christ
On the day after this Easter feast, I returned to Paris giving thanks to the Lord for the dynamism that inhabits our Sisters in England. I wish that each one will hear Christ speak her name like Mary Magdalene on Easter morning.
May the joy of this encounter enable them to continue to proclaim these words:
“Jesus is alive on our humble paths.
We can witness that Jesus is alive.”
Sr Colette Gélinas dj,
General Council, Paris
Follow this link to inform yourself about the artist and theologian, Father Marko Ivan Rupnik sj, from the Centro Aletti, Rome, whose magnificent mosaics feature in this article: https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marko_Ivan_Rupnik