In early July the members of the International Economic Commission of the Daughters of Jesus came together in the rue d’Arras, Paris, for their two-yearly meeting. Sisters Mary Clare Mason and Denise Lirette, speak to us about the session and the work of this Commission.
“Mary Clare, can you explain first of all how the Commission is made up and what it does?”
Mary Clare: “Basically, the International Economic Commission is tasked with reviewing requests for financial aid towards projects that are linked to the works and mission of the Congregation. Our job is to consider how this can be best delivered. Under the leadership of Sister Anne Marie Monneraye, the Bursar General, the members represent their Province or District within the Congregation – Michelle Esquie for France / Belgium, Ruthina Francis for Africa, Denise Lirette for Canada and Maura Rodriguez Ordonez for Latin America. This year we had two members who are new to the Commission – myself for England and Cordelia Pierre for Dominica. Not forgetting Madame Marie Anne Charre, Anne-Marie’s Assistant and Sister Marie Yvonne Fontaine, our former Bursar General, who also joined the commission for some sessions.
Looking Forward from the Past
“So when you meet, how do you go about it?”
M.C. : “After a general introduction to each other and to the proposed timetable for the week, we began with a review of certain documents, demographics and financial statements which serve as a base and reference for our work :
– The Rule of Life of the Congregation, the Chapter Acts of 2016 and different Church documents on managing the finances within Religious Institutes.
– A presentation on the demographics of the Congregation projected through to 2028, highlighting our own fragility where personnel is concerned and the needs that this raise regarding the future.
– The financial statements of the three funds invested in France, Canada, and England. These all showed a healthy balance, so we were able to look at future projects and requests for funding.
Meetings of the Commission are also a time to review projects which the Commission has already supported over the past two years. We ask :
- Have they met the criteria set down in the Charter?
- Can we measure the outcomes against what was expected by the Commission?
Contrary to what might be thought, it is not only the Provinces of the South who profit from the fund. In the past two years the Solidarity fund has also supported :
- The International Juniorate Pilgrimage “In the Footsteps of our Founders”
- The Council of The Congregation
- A meeting and formation session of the international web site team.
Sharing our goods with others
“So what then do you look for in the requests for aid that you had received?”
M.C.: “This was done in a practical session where we studied the requests sent to the Commission, mainly from the African Province. This involved asking pertinent questions such as :
- Does the request follow the guidelines of the Congregation, the Church and the needs of the world today?
- How does it relate to the Sustainable Development Goals as set down by the UN in 2015?
One of our major concerns as a Commission is the ongoing maintenance of a project. Who will undertake it, will there be some local financial input by the people for whom the project is intended, will the Church also play its part?
An interesting example of this was a request from Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Here, the Daughters of Jesus support the “Centre d’Alphabetisation Saint Joseph de Kermaria” a very poor area where families have very little money to spare for their children’s’ schooling. The support of the Commission was been requested in order to buy sewing machines, materials, and irons. The aim is to enable young students to gain a qualification in dressmaking as well as to catch up on basic educational skills missed out on in earlier years. So giving them a sense of hope and a means of gaining employment and helping their families.
Working in partnership
“Denise, I believe you also had input from an outside speaker. Can you tell us a bit about this session?”
Denise Lirette : We spent a very interesting morning with Mr Laurent Chèreau who spoke to us about “International Solidarity for Development and Investment” (SIDI). This is a limited liability company created in 1983 with the aim of promoting a social and solidarity-based economy by consolidating individual and collective economic activities, initiated locally in the countries of the South and East.
The Congregation has participated financially in supporting various projects through the micro-finance ticket since 2009. It’s a way of working with other partners to enable individuals or groups to take charge of their own lives. By taking a step further, SIDI has created an approach called “Economic and Social Transition” to support potential projects that meet the criteria of environmental protection, income equity, and social responsibility.
A time to Relax
“Mary Clare, I believe you were actually allowed some time off ?”
M.C. : Yes, the group braved the heatwave and took an afternoon off to see something of Paris with an interesting choice of venue – La Défense, the financial district in the west of Paris!
Here we had the chance to admire the stunning modern architecture of the high-rise towers and the very modern church of Notre Dame de Pentecôte. A visit to an exhibition of photos on the roof of the Grande Arche, “Legacy, the heritage we leave to our children” also gave us another perspective again on our mission. In this first great retrospective, the renowned photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand works to raise public awareness and develop concrete solutions for a more responsible lifestyle, respectful of the planet and its inhabitants. In many ways he is asking the same questions as the International Economic Commission are :
What heritage are we leaving for our children?
What are we going to pass on to future generations?
What is our responsibility?
Then, after a final review of the session and a look to the future, we relaxed with a short social evening in the company of the General Council and the community. A good ending to an intense but fruitful week’s work!
Srs Mary Clare Mason and Denise Lirette dj