Posted on: 10 May 2022
Author:Sister Joan Kerley
Day 2 UISG Meeting for Board Members and Delegates 2022
We had another very full day today and have just finished our meeting. Tomorrow we have to write reports so this will be my last letter to you today. The day began with a prayers looking back over all we have shared last week and this week and giving thanks for all we have received from one another. At this point I remembered to thank God for all of you because I really felt the power of your prayer for me when I had to chair the meeting last Friday. I do not find it easy but through your prayer I am somehow given the courage I need. Our hymn was a beautiful one called Shekinah. At the end of the prayer we again made a commitment in our many languages which in English was : “I commit myself to live vulnerable solidarity through my service as leader animating it in my congregation together with the People of God.”
Then began about three hours of studying the Statutes of the UISG and voting in various changes which the outgoing Board suggested. It was very necessary but also very tedious and we were all glad when that part was over. One proposal will unfortunately give me more work for my final year as the delegate for the UK because the new Board will extend some of their meetings to include the delegates via Zoom but it was agreed this is all in the best interests of synodality.
Some of the African Sisters wanted the UISG and the USG to merge so that the men could choose a delegate to represent the women but this was thrown out immediately in the advice of the Secretary who told us quite rightly this would be a backward step. In any case the two bodies are very different and while there are something like 900 in the UISG, the USG only has about 200.
After this we began to get to know the Sisters who live in Rome and who have allowed their names to go forward to stand as new Board members.They need 12 board members and we had 13 so it was agreed that all be elected as they are never all available at the same time. However we had to vote for eight to become members of a joint commission with the men when they meet with the Dicastery in Rome. We were 36 voting in the room and 8 online via Zoom and four attempts to vote electronically before we resorted to pen and paper because we could not achieve the correct number of votes. Technology is great but people have to be able to use it. The results would be instant online but of course it took a while to count. Eventually we had the eight members needed but then they had to meet to elect their President and they did this over lunch while the rest of us had a working lunch to arrange our joint constellation meetings which for me was with the delegate for Ireland and the one for Hungary.
Before lunch though we had our final Eucharist together celebrated by Fr David who is from the US and is part of the project called Solidarity with South Sudan.
This afternoon was spent with presentations by a lady who works for the Conrad Hilton Foundation who provide many grants to Religious Sisters and they told us today about a big grant which has been given to UISG for Sisters working in Ukraine and the surrounding countries to help the refugees. We welcomed the President who has taken over from Sr Yolanta and the Vice President. The President is Sr Nadia Coppa who is Italian and the Vice President is Sr Mary Barron from Ireland. Mary is the Superior General of Our Lady of the Apostles Congregation who are our neighbours in Cork. We then suggested places for the next meeting of delegates and four were put forward, namely Romania, Argentina, Ghana and Kenya. The Board will make the final decision and the meeting will be in Nov 2023 by which time I will have finished my term.
Finally we had a discussion with Sr Pat, the Executive Secretary of UISG, about the continuing problem of priests and Bishops abusing Sisters and we were assured that every case reported to UISG is reported to the Dicastery and to the Pope.
We concluded by singing together the Salve Regina before our goodbyes as we all went our separate ways. One final request please that you will pray for the Holy Spirit to guide me in my report writing tomorrow.
With my love and prayers