Posted on: 04 May 2022
Author:Sister Joan Kerley
Day 3 UISG Plenary Report
Dear Sisters, I am beginning to write during the lunch break because we have a little extra time. I meant to tell you that yesterday I was able to meet up with Sr Maria Goretti the Superior General of the Asumbi Sisters in Kenya and we caught up on the news with each other’s greetings to all those Sisters who know her. We give thanks that thanks to our Sisters in the past this Congregation is now much bigger than we are and is thriving. She was telling me that they have been invited to go to Congo and went on a visit only to find themselves in the French speaking part where they could understand hardly anything so she does not think they will be going there.
We began today with a morning prayer focusing on the Visitation of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth. We were invited to go out and to meet life. We were then asked to reflect on the meaning of synodality in the light of this encounter and the following were words shared on our table: Walking together, embracing, listening, sharing in God’s plan, welcoming and companionship.
We were then addressed by Dr Jessie Rogers from Maynooth University in Ireland where she is the first lay woman to be appointed as Dean. We had breakfast together earlier and she was very down to earth and ordinary but a powerful speaker on the subject of Wisdom for the Synodal Journey. Her talk focused a lot on wisdom literature in the Bible and I will share it with you when we receive it. She spoke of remembering what is good from the past and at the same time keeping an eye on what God is doing for us now and where He is leading us in the future. She concluded by quoting from St James letter where he says if we are lacking in wisdom we must ask for it in faith adding that having received it we must step forward in faith too.
The next presentation was on The Synodal Journey - how will it change Religious Life? and was given as a dialogue between Sr Natalie Becquart a French theologian who works at the Vatican and Fr David McCallum who knew Sr. Joan Kerley in the US and was pleased when I gave him her greetings. What a small world we live in! They stressed that synodality is being lived by those of us in Religious Life as brothers and sisters on a journey but all of us need further conversion and transformation. Fr David said that synodality in one sense means way-making which is making it up as we go along in our lives experience. Both stressed the desire of Pope Francis that the Synod goes to the margins and gives a voice to the voiceless.
Wisdom does not mean that as leaders we have power over but rather power with and for and within others and our ability to make change requires openness and communion in order to be salt and leaven and light even as we diminish in order to give flavour to our world and that is our service to others.
The logo of the synod is one of people, young and old, male and female, rich and poor etc and is a symbol of all humanity. It is important that each of us is present in these people. The call to be a Synodal church is a call to communion, to be a community of communities with all our many charisms in an amazing human team working across today’s world. Through our vulnerability we are called to continue our vocation to be passionate for Christ, for humanity and for the Church.
Mass was celebrated by Mons. Jose Carballo the secretary of CICLSAL and he stressed three words: Peace which brings reconciliation and which we carry as bearers of peace, Joy which is a deep Easter joy which comes from knowing that we are loved and embraced by God in a love which never fails and Mission which is our need to go out of ourselves to reach out to others who may need us in whatever way we can be for them.
After lunch Mon Carballo addressed us on the theme of Synodality: The implications for formation. He made it clear that both Synodality and formation are processes in a Church that is Synodal by nature and this requires us to be open to belonging to the People of God. Formation must change us and transform us to be open to the Holy Spirit.
We need lifelong formation to move from a command structure to a circular one with Jesus at the centre. Knowing ourselves is the beginning of formation and the Gospel calls us to build on our foundations which is our reality in which we reach out to Christ and are transformed from the logic of the world to the logic of the Gospel.
Formation is a process of true and deep transformation, and we are to walk together in communion but not in uniformity. Just as Jesus accompanied the disciple on the road to Emmaus and asked them questions so should formation so as to open up the person to give their response to why they wish to follow Christ. We then shared in our table groups on the question ‘To what transformation of formation are we called to facilitate a more prophetic expression of synodality in Religious Life?’ We continued until 5.30pm when we concluded with Evening Prayer again based on the Visitation when we reflected on the fact that both Mary and Elizabeth were in situations of difficulties and yet both were able to recognise their blessings and we were reminded that Journeying in Synodality requires us to recognise the signs of blessing, faith and resurrection already around us in our Congregations, our world and in ourselves.
We were then given instructions for a smooth visit to the Vatican tomorrow for an audience with Pope Francis so tomorrow I will be sharing with you what he has to say to us in his address.
I hope this is giving you some idea of what I am hearing here in Rome at the UISG assembly. Until tomorrow let us pray for one another. With my love and prayers Maureen