Reflection on Day 1 of the UISG Plenary 2019 Meeting

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Posted on: 07 May 2019

Author:Sr Joan Kerley


I wish all of you could be here to celebrate this wonderful experience of being part of the universal church. We are about 900 Leaders from many countries and cultures and speak in many languages but in the Risen Lord we are one body, one church.

Today we met up with old friends and many new ones. We are in table groups of 8 -10 sisters sharing a common language. At my table we are eight so the other seven are two from the US and one each from Ghana, South Africa, Malawi, India and The Netherlands. After we listen to a presentation, we share either as a group or in twos at the tables so today I shared a lot with Sr Domitilla from Ghana. It was very enriching.
The theme of the Conference is sowers of prophetic hope and the beautiful opening prayer was based on seeds and their growth. We then heard reports from the Executive of the UISG on their work in the last three years which was mainly focused on three issues namely a) Care of the planet. b) Major social issues of our time and c) Religious life. At our table we were asked to identify two issues from what we heard which seemed to focus on the prophetic experience. We came up with interculturality in our communities and congregations and the need for inter religious dialogue with Muslim women and Catholic Sisters especially in countries where Sisters are working with big Muslim majorities.

In the afternoon Sr Teresa Maya spoke on the theme of a Vision for Religious Life. Some of you may have watched this online. (You can read the text in English by following this link: A Vision for the Future of Religious Life Sr Teresa Maya) Perhaps if I have time before we begin tomorrow I will reflect a little on what she said in the paper but our group summed up what she said in a statement we were asked to write as follows: "We are called to be Christian feminists, women of vision who bring a quality of presence, patience, compassion and creativity to life and to mission." To conclude the day as part of the closing prayer we planted a seed at each table which we called presence of hope.

There is also much sharing which goes on at meals. Today I had breakfast with two of our English group but at lunch I was with mainly Americans one Spanish Sister and one Italian. We spoke in Spanish because the Italian Sister did not speak English and once again, I had to say it is a small world as she turned out to be the Leader of the two Indian Sisters in Blackburn who are known to all of us in Salford Diocese. She was delighted that I had met them. Later I met Sr Dorothy Akoth who is the Leader of the Asumbi Sisters and she asked that we should pray for her Sister Carolyn who is 23 and was badly injured in the car crash last year when two of the Sisters were killed. She cannot walk or talk and there is little hope that she will recover any further. So far I have not found the Sisters from Malaysia but it is difficult among so many.

Tonight we went to Mass in the local parish of Our Lady of Guadeloupe but on the other days we will have Mass together during the day and on Friday at St Peter’s Basilica before our audience with the Pope. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

With love Maureen