To be a “servant” of communion, unity and mission … was the theme chosen by the General Council for the workshop for those responsible for the governance of the Congregation which took place at the Mother House, Kermaria, from 25 to 29 November 2019. The participants, Provincials and the future Regional, report on how they experienced this call.
- Lead the people entrusted to them towards a freedom of heart that will make them grow in humanity, fraternity, and responsibility.
- Be a “servant” of communion and unity.
- Be a “servant” of the mission of the Congregation as it is lived out today, in fidelity to the founding intuition.
Each of them kindly shared with us an aspect discussed during the meeting that is related to the mission entrusted to them.
Teresa, you have had the opportunity to attend a similar session in the past. What are the new elements that attracted your attention and helped to clarify your function as Provincial of England?
“I participated in a meeting of Provincials in 2016 which I greatly appreciated. A special feature this time was that the meeting was held in Kermaria with the celebration of the 185th anniversary of our foundation and the opening of a “Holy Year” of Congregation anniversaries. This new awareness of our Congregational Body illuminated our reflections and deepened the call of the Lord that we all received and still receive every day.
Another element was exchanging with Sisters who are one or even two generations younger than me. I felt that we live the same charism and that the same mission of collaboration dwells within us to act as Jesus did, between ourselves and with the people around us. Sharing simply, honestly and truthfully strengthened and encouraged us to pursue the mission of responsibility entrusted to us.”
Anne, you began your mandate as Provincial a few months ago. Could you name some of your priorities given that you have more than 400 sisters and 180 Associates in France / Belgium?
“What seems important to me is to experience real collaboration on several levels. First, with the Sisters of the Province, considering their age and expectations but daring to believe that every stage of life allows us to aspire to newness. Another priority is to be creative in “going to the source” together and personally, and to look for ways accessible to all, to grow in faith and fraternal charity.
Collaborating in other ways is also important. There, I am thinking in particular of the Associates who want to get to know us better and to be involved in the events that affect us. This collaboration requires networking with the Vice-Provincials who live near to people and know the reality “on the ground”.
At the end of this week of sharing and reflection bringing together all the Provincials and the Regional, I am more and more convinced that we must forge links between our different Provinces. We must cultivate an esprit de corps in order to envision the future together. What is happening in one Province concerns the whole Congregation and vice versa. Thank you to the General Council for allowing us to have such a stimulating, formative and refreshing experience.”
Monique, you had long experience at the administrative level before you began your mandate as Provincial of Canada, and it is still part of your present-day experience. Can you help us to better understand the meaning of the economic dimension in our religious life?
“As an answer to that question, I couldn’t express it any better than by referring to the document: “Economy at the service of the charism and mission“. I have so much appreciated this document.
We should not forget that the economy has a human face and, serves our mission. The economic dimension is intimately linked to the person and the mission. It is through the economy, that we make important choices for our personal and collective life; in turn, these choices should reflect our evangelical witness, in their attention to the needs of our brothers and sisters.
A biblical reference that speaks to me a lot is:
so, like good stewards
responsible for all these different
graces of God,
put yourselves at the service of God.”
1 Peter 4,10
In the African Province, young women are attracted by the charism of the Daughters of Jesus, the mystery of the Incarnation. Chrésence, as a newly appointed Provincial, what are some of the challenges to be faced in formation?
“In the four countries that make up our Province, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Ivory Coast and Chad, our Daughters of Jesus charism is incarnated in a people. This is how young African women feel challenged by our way of living close to the poor.
Called by God, through my superiors, to serve the Province, the mission of formation and accompaniment is a great challenge to be taken up. This Provincials’ that we have just experienced in Kermaria has been like a source for me, where I have drawn living water to help me in this mission. I have been given tools that will enable to be able to take up this challenge along with the Sisters of my Provincial Council. It is an ongoing formation that helps us day after day to grow in our relationship with Jesus through a religious life that is livelier and more fraternal. Then there is the initial formation, including the stages of discernment that the young people who allow themselves to be touched by our charism pass through.
The greatest challenge for myself and my Council is actually to find ways of formation that will allow us to be authentic Daughters of Jesus, witnesses of a human Jesus. With the grace of God and the trust of each of my Sisters in the Province, we will achieve this together.”
Maria Esperanza, you will soon enter into your functions as the Regional for Latin America. How did this week meet some of your expectations?
Having participated for the first time in a workshop with the Provincials and the General Council, I can say that it is a good beginning for the new mission and the new role that I will soon assume as Regional of Latin America. Among the elements that I consider important to take into account for this mission is to “live the service of authority in a spiritual government starting from Jesus”. This expression reflects very well what we want to live because this mission is a gift received from God and it is rooted in our personal history in deep communion with our weaknesses.
Listening to the older Provincials who have more experience in service of authority in the Congregation was enriching. I discovered that our Charism of the Daughters of Jesus continues to give life and take on new “colours” that energize our entire mission. Even though many things were new for me, I found a great solidarity, which allowed me to both encounter the unknown and to feel part of a cog in the wheel and part of a whole. It gives me a lot of hope to know that all the Provinces and the Congregation are in communion with this new way of wanting to live the charism and to live the mission in a new structure to give a better response to today’s world.
The participation of the General Council throughout the session helped us to clarify and look ahead to the future with a broad and objective vision of what we are living now and what we expect as Daughters of Jesus.
Master who speaks to the heart, where do you live?
Present to the most hidden, where are you leading us?
Lead us to your secret, You who say:
Come and draw living water, see who invites you.
(Song Master on our paths – Claude Bernard)
Sr Colette Gélinas fj