Posted on: 09 May 2022
Author:Sister Joan Kerley
Day 1: Report on UISG meeting for delegates and board members
On Saturday I moved from the hotel where the conference was held over to another part of the city about 15 minutes’ walk from the Vatican and half an hour away from where the other meetings are being held. It was supposed to be a B and B but is actually just a room with a kettle. However I was able to buy fruit and some bread so can easily manage myself. It rained on Saturday afternoon so I rested until later on when I walked around the local area to get my bearings.
Sunday morning I was awake early and decided to go to an 8.30am Mass so turned up only to find other people and a closed church. It seems the church is no longer open but it still says there is Mass which is confusing for visitors. Anyway the next church was only five minutes away so I went there and was only a few minutes late. It was all in Italian but fortunately I have an app in my phone with the sprayer of the Church and Mass readings so I was able to use that to translate and there seemed to be a pastoral letter from the Bishop for Good Shepherd Sunday.
I then walked to St Peters and made a Holy Hour for the Congregation thinking of each community and as far as possible praying for those in that community. By then a sung Mass was beginning so I heard beautiful singing and decided to stay surrounded by people from so many countries.
By the time Mass finished I came out to a crowd gathered in the Square because the Pipe speaks at midday on Sundays. He was up in one of the high windows and I understood enough of his Italian to know he was speaking about the Good Shepherd and vocations. At the end everyone cheered and applauded and I had a great sense of being part of the universal Church. I walked home to make a sandwich and good job I did because I was only just back when there was heavy rain. I waited until it stopped before going out again later to get fresh air.
Today I set out in plenty of time to get to the UISG offices for 9am but missed a right turn and ended up lost and had to ask various people the way. I made double the journey I needed to make but it was a lovely morning for a walk and I arrived more or less on time so it was okay. This meeting was only for delegates and board members so whereas last week we were some five hundred this time we are only about 40 with a few more joining us online.
The meeting today began with prayer with Mary Magdalen and Peter given as examples of servant leaders and concluding with a sing we know well,” Let there be peace in earth and let it begin with me,” sung in many languages.
We then had a roll call to which we answered present in our many languages.
The first session was a table conversation around two questions which we were given as follows:
1. Following in from the Plenary what paths should UISG follow?
2. What are the concrete actions the Executive board should take?
I was at a table with Sr Karin from Canada, Sr Monica from India and Sr Magdalena from Hungary and we suggested that Congregations would need help in any process of transformation from hierarchical to circular models of authority as it is a new initiative. We also agreed with other groups about a need for ongoing leadership training for new leaders in new models and also more education in countries where there is spiritual abuse of power happening as the result of wrong understandings of obedience. A number of African Diocesan congregations are suffering because of abuse of power from Bishops too.
This was followed by an update on what has been happening in the administration of UISG and a session in finance and legal structures of UISG. Apparently the laws in Rome are very complex and everything takes much longer to implement than elsewhere.
Members of the Board spoke of their experience of being board members and were thanked for their service but several are coming up to Chapters and finishing their terms of office so new members will have to be elected tomorrow.
After lunch we were given a presentation by the Hilton Foundation of a new initiative about the care of elderly Sisters and especially those suffering from cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s. We had four sessions in various aspects of this research which we are all to be invited to take part in but it is in the early stages at present so there was nothing much to be shared. We finished the afternoon with table groups in what we had heard today and finished at 5.30pm. We are all tired and each delegate has to report back to their constellation group members so when I get home I will have to prepare a report for the other leaders in Britain.
Please forgive this short account of the day but there is not much else I can report on except in very general terms.
Love and prayers Maureen fmsj