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Meeting between the General Government and the Provincial Councils of Africa and Spain. Rome 3rd -7th April (Srs)


The Provincial Councils of Africa and Spain met in Rome from the 3rd to 7th April to take another step on the journey of discernment and searching on how to concretely implement the decision regarding the life and mission of the Province of Africa at this moment and into the future. Sr Emperatriz, in her recent letter communicated the journey of recent weeks to Africa , the various meetings and dialogue which the General Government had there, resulting in the decision that Africa would become a Delegation affiliated to a major community; namely Spain.

   Before the meeting began we were fortunate to be able on 3rd April to get tickets for the Wednesday audience with Pope Francesco in St Peter’s Square. We shared this moment of prayer and blessing with the thousands of other pilgrims gathered for the occasion.

   With this special blessing for the sisters and for the meeting which was about to begin, we returned home for a celebration of the Eucharist in the community. In the meditation of the Gospel of the day “the disciples on the road to Emmaus”, the sisters were invited , in their profound desire to walk forward together, to create an atmosphere of openness and listening like Jesus , to be patient so that they could listen to and receive each others’ opinions and allow their hearts to be enflamed, recognising Jesus present in their dialogue and in the breaking of the bread of life.

   In addressing the opening session of the meeting Sr. Emperatriz expressed the hope that the title given to the meeting “ The witness of fruitful communion in diversity” would be a reality and an on-going experience and that they could live it and show the Congregation that it is possible to live communion in diversity.

   Emperatriz thanked the sisters in the name of the Congregation for making the time and space to be available in the midst of their many responsibilities, stressing the significance of being in Rome: the “general house “ of the Congregation , a symbolic place of communion for the Congregation. She also said that it was providential that this first step of the journey was beginning at the same time as the Easter journey and she hoped that the Lord would be allowed to come and meet them on the journey.

   Alicia Mamani then introduced an integration exercise wherein each one was asked to share two or three significant aspects of their ss.cc religious journey. This was a moving witness of God’s action in the life of each sister present. Further questions centred on “What was I bringing in my rucksack ?” in terms of feelings and attitudes as we initiated this journey of seeking and discerning the next steps together and “What were my hopes, dreams and challenges?”, facing us at the beginning of this journey towards a new face of the Congregation.

   Attitudes of openness, trust and hope were shared: “The Congregation is ours and we will give birth to something that hasn’t existed before”, “no matter where we are, in Africa or in Spain we are part of something bigger”. A concern was voiced that we wouldn’t waste all our energies on structures and not have anything left to be available pastorally where we were most needed. Above all the desire was expressed that it would be a journey of communion.

   After a brief reflection on the Decisions of the 35th General Chapter, elements were highlighted that were felt necessary to be included in the process and it was expressed that these would guide the process. Time was spent fruitfully airing questions and concerns about the reality of a “Delegation” before the two provinces began their work together. Goyi, in the name of the General Government accompanied the meeting because of her knowledge of Africa and her love of and closeness to the reality of Africa.

   On Sunday morning the General government met again with the councils of Africa and Spain to listen to the results of the work of the previous days. A rough draft of the Statutes was presented. It was stressed that the guiding principle in all the discussion and reflection was 'how to create forums of participation and greater connection in the areas where support was most needed without generating more and heavier structures'. It was evident that a tremendous amount of work had been achieved in an atmosphere of trust and openness and that the members present were indeed the pillars supporting the foundations of the ongoing process into the future. The meeting finished with a beautiful Eucharist celebrated by Felipe, one of our brothers, and included a rite of sending forth as each returned to their respective countries.