God journeys with us in the time of darkness through which religious life is passing, and he invites us to believe that something new can still emerge from that night through the action of the Holy Spirit.
On May 18th-20th weekend, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, six sisters of the Moncton vice-province participated in a conference organized by the Religious of Atlantic Canada (RAC). Founded in the 70’s, this group grew out of the Formation Program whose aim was to allow young sisters of the different congregations of Atlantic Canada to come together to get to know and support one another and once a year, have a formation weekend together. Over the years the conference welcomed all the religious of the region to become members of the group.
A realisation of the sombre reality of the present times
This year, forty-four sisters belonging to 10 different religious congregations were privileged to have Sr. Nancy Schreck OSF as guest speaker. Sister, a biblical scholar, resides in an underprivileged area of Mississippi, USA, and continues to be an inspiration for religious life on the national and international levels. The theme of the conference, “Dancing in the Dark” as well as her sharing were for us:
- A reflection on the darkness of our present reality where everything seems to be crumbling around us
- A stimulant to endeavor to discern God’s invitations today
- Together how may we live fully in the conviction that our faithful God precedes and accompanies us
- More than ever before, we must live out the most precious thing that religious life has to offer today’s world namely, its prophetic and mystic dimensions
- A certitude that despite the darkness of the present times, despite our demographic frailties, our aging, religious life has its place in today’s world; God continues to call us forth and to sustain us. In Is 43, 5, do we not read, “I will give you the treasures of darkness”?
Believe in the hidden of darkness
Quoting biblical texts and quotations from different sources, Sr. Nancy went on to show us how much God is present and offers us abundant life in these moments of darkness and invited us to read the signs of the times. The most appreciated bible texts that we love to read and reread were written in very difficult times in the history of the people of God. Difficult times in history and no doubt in our own lives have been moments of creativity where newness, new life were able to emerge. Maybe we will not be able to witness these new times (Is 43,19) but we must do all in our power to bring them about.
Were not our congregations founded in such difficult times to answer urgent situations? Will we, in turn, have the audacity to risk, to search, to be “in the peripheries where God is calling and waiting for our answer today?”
Often what crumbles makes great noise but, on the other hand, newness comes in silence, often in the silence of the night. Let us remain confident, a light will come if we remain attentive and, like Esther, believe that God wills us to live in these, our times. (cf. Est. 14)
Gloria Boudreau fj, Denise Lirette fj, Moncton, Canada