We, Alejandra, Andrea, Clara and Nancy went to Guatemala to participate in the First Congress of New Generations of the Mesoamerican Region from July 27th to 29th. We were 80 religious men and women from various congregations and countries and we gathered to share the richness of the call to consecrated life. We enjoyed it a lot sharing and meeting new people from different charisms and cultures. Also we faced the realities of our own countries, especially the situation in Nicaragua which helped us to realize that God is walking with us in our realities. Our motto was “New Generation looking for a Mesoamerican´s identity” and during the three days of the congress we worked with the methodology – See, Judge and Act.
Each day we began with a lectio divina and we also had Eucharist to strengthen us and start the day full of joy, enthusiasm and energy. On the first day, we had presentations of each – Conferences from Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico. They were about their work, organization and methodologies as a commission of New Generations. It was very interesting to see how each country lives New Generations according to their realities. For instance, in the case of Costa Rica, the group is supported by CONFRECOR, but the instability of participation has not allowed consolidating processes and that leads to monthly meetings or social projects as a consecrated life of Costa Rica.
Also, we went to visit the Works of Brother Pedro near Antigua Guatemala. We were divided into groups and had the opportunity to share with older adults, youth and children living in this center. They are handicapped and very happy and joyful. Also some of them were abandoned by their families. We went to share, speak and play with them. They are very sensitive, the simple fact of touching their hands, they already move and start looking for who is there with them. This experience allowed us to become more aware of this reality with concrete faces, faces that represent so many other faces in different places of our own countries. As Consecrated Life of New Generations we are called to reach those faces and manifest the love of God.
After that, we went to Antigua Guatemala and we did a rally there called “Making a Mess” with different activities such as telling stories, singing, giving free hugs and reciting poems in the park of Antigua. We were also helping the merchants to sell their wares at the craft market, cleaning the shoes of a shoe polisher and to pay him, collecting money singing in the park and with money we bought food and it was given to some people who were living on the street. We enjoyed sharing, speaking and being with the people. We felt that it was very significant, since we could know more of the new realities of the country.
On the second day, we had some presentations about the path traveled by the New Generations in the CLAR and in Mesoamerica and saw the identity of young consecrated life facing today’s challenges as a sign of hope. We had individual and group reflections with different questions; for instance: – What is the crisis of consecrated life today? The speaker mentioned a theological crisis, he asked the question: How to show today the experience of God to human beings. When we face two enemies neo-Gnosticism (an ideology that attributes power of intelligence and believes that with their explanations they can make the whole faith and the whole Gospel perfectly understandable) and neo-Pelagianism (ascribes all power to the will) – Carta Placuit Deo of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. After that we had a plenary debate.
On the third day, we had the last lecture about “Walking (in communion) towards the construction of a new horizon from the demands of our reality.” We were called to a transformation, to create an alternative lifestyle having as our inspiration – biblical texts such as the Shema, the annunciation or others from Isaiah and Exodus. The theme was on where the God of Israel hears the cry of His people; generating a dialogue between God and the human being, a liberating dialogue that engenders a different relationship involving the wholeness of being. We had the question: Where do the New Generations want to focus in order to achieve this transformation. From there, we had a time of work and dialogue in different groups and our conclusion was that our acting as a young religious life of the New Generations is important.
So, we are happy to share with you a little bit our experiences in this congress and we are thankful to God and the congregation for this opportunity, since we had wonderful experiences in which to participate.
We also want to thank all of you who have made these days possible for us in Guatemala. Thank you very much for your support and prayers.
Blessings to each one, with love. Alejandra nds, Andrea nds, Clarita nds and Nancy nds. IN SION FIRMATA SUM
Dos dias 22 a 28 de julho de 2018 alguns Religiosos, religiosas, formandos e uma associada de Sion, se reuniram na Paróquia Nossa Senhora da Consolata dos Religiosos de Sion, no Rio de Janeiro para a realização de mais uma missão Sionense. Já é o terceiro ano que estamos juntos em formação e missão. A primeira missão, em 2015, foi latino-americana pela participação de Irmãs de Costa Rica e se realizou em Castro-Paraná depois de uma semana de formação em São Paulo. A segunda, em 2017, ocorreu em São Sebastião do Paraíso-Minas Gerais. Desta vez tivemos três manhãs de formação sobre os Irmãos Ratisbonne.
Éramos 30 missionários e missionárias vindos dos Estados de São Paulo, Paraná, Sergipe e Rio de Janeiro. O grupo foi dividido em quatro equipes identificadas por camisetas de cores branca, verde, azul e amarela, correspondendo ao número de comunidades da paróquia. A missão consistia sempre em visitas domiciliares para bênção às famílias e partilha da Palavra de Deus e partilha de vida, celebrações e formações nas capelas.
Ficamos todos hospedados na casa paroquial a qual também o filosofado dos Religiosos de Sion. Com eles tínhamos uma partilha de tarefas domésticas e de preparação das orações comunitárias diárias. A paróquia provia a alimentação, bem como, as cozinheiras voluntárias. Comunidades onde aconteceu a missão: Nossa Senhora da Glória, Nossa Senhora de Fátima, Nossa Senhora das Graças e Nossa Senhora de todos os Povos. Cada comunidade (favela) tinha uma pequena capela onde nos reuníamos depois das visitas às famílias.
A situação dos locais é delicada por causa da realidade de tráfico de drogas, mas Graças a Deus, não presenciamos nada que nos assustasse. O que mais nos chamou a atenção foi ver a fé e a sede de Deus das pessoas que visitávamos e que nos acompanhavam. Aprendemos muito com seus exemplos de superação. Durante dois dias fomos agraciados com a presença de Katiane, jovem paroquiana, que se dispôs a caminhar conosco nas visitas às famílias. Ela está na busca profunda de conhecer a Vontade de Deus e está disposta a assumi-la.
Foi uma experiência única. Todos vivendo, rezando, estudando num entusiasmo contagiante. Missionários entrando sem medo em todas as comunidades e becos para distribuir bênçãos, santinhos, sorrisos e a Palavra de Deus. E recebendo em troca um banho de conhecimento e reconhecimento. Sion deu uma demonstração de vida e de esperança. A união das diversas famílias de Sion foi exemplar. A comunidade que recebeu, a paróquia, os agentes das comunidades estão de parabéns. Padres, religiosos e formandos de Sion mostraram entusiasmo e garra. Que a Paróquia da Consolata tenha os efeitos dessa bênção!
I had heard from Srs. Clare, Margaret and Kathy, NDS about the International Jewish Christian Bible Week for a number of years and they had given me the impression that it was a programme that marks memory for a long time. Finally, this year, I was able to take part in it, as well as sr. Kathy. The Jewish – Christian Bible Week takes place in Germany (in recent years in Haus Ohrbeck near Osnabrück) for 50 years. Jews and Christians from Germany, Britain, the Netherlands, the USA, Israel and other countries, scholars and interested lay people (this year 130 participants), came together at the Jewish-Christian Bible Week to study biblical texts against a background of the two traditions.
Every morning study groups take place, where Jews and Christians have an opportunity to study, discuss and share their knowledge concerning chosen biblical text, this year Genesis 1-3, Isaiah 42-49 and Jonah. Groups are formed according to knowledge of Hebrew and focus. In-depths study of the Hebrew text, canonical approach, Jewish – Christian Bible study, biblical text and the contemporary world, interpretation and creative response through visual art. Trust and an openness to listen to and to ask questions was deeply touching. This made me realise the gigantic changes that has happened in Jewish – Christian relations since the Nostra Aeatate document. In the afternoons, four lecturers: Dr. D. Kahn – Harris (Rabbi and a Jewish Bible Scholar), Prof. Halima Krausen (a Muslim Sheika and imam), Fr. Dr C. Rutishauser (a Jesuit, and a Bible Scholar) and H. Copper (a Rabbi and a psychoanalyst) delivered brilliant and often challenging presentations of studied biblical texts.
The shift in our mutual relations was also very visible during the moments of prayer. Each morning Christians were invited to come to Shacharit (Jewish morning prayer). Before each study session a there was a common recitation of a Psalm, first read in Hebrew and then in various languages. In the evenings Christians opened the door for everybody who wanted to listen to Christian liturgical prayer – Compline (a night prayer). Finally, at the end of the week everybody had a chance to experience Jewish Shabbat with its services (Kabbalat Shabbat, Shacharit and Havdalah) as well as Christian: on Saturday Vespers led by a Lutheran and on Sunday a Catholic Mass. An excellent interfaith choir was formed, often accompanied by professional musicians. Additionally, this year Rebekka Wedell, a composer, singer and pianist, composed for us a beautiful piece of music for the occasion of the Jubilee of the Bible Week.
This 50th year of the International Jewish – Christian Bible week was marked by the anniversary celebration during which one of the founders, Rabbi Dr. J. Magonet presented a talk ‘A Journey through Time 1969 – 2018’ when he picked up all the changes that had happened over the last fifty years. During the Kaleidoscope Rabbi M. Solomon spoke about the central place of Hebrew Scriptures during the Bible week, E. Sommer talked about studying the text with all one’s senses (through art, music etc), A. Boeckler and E. Hadem talked about worshipping in the presence of the Other, rabbi J. Baden about translations (as everything is in both languages: English and German). Finally U. Silber talked about the learning process that happens during the Bible week. Each of the presenters focused on the development and changes that had occurred from the beginning until today.
What also make this week very special are the friendships that are formed over this time. The inter-personal dialogues, conversations that take place in between the sessions and over the meals, are done in an atmosphere of trust and respect. This facilitates learning about the tradition of each one in a very informal but a deep way. The deceased participants from the previous years were remembered in the prayers (a few sisters of Sion were mentioned). Those who could not come had letters sent to them. This is how the Jewish – Christian Bible Week takes us beyond time and space and hopefully makes a difference (even if it is only tiny) so needed today in contemporary society.
Statement from sr. Pat NDS from the Philippines concerning the Bureau of Immigration’s Deportation Order against her:
‘After attending a Fact-Finding Mission and telling some Coca Cola workers that the social teachings of the church support them in their formation of an association and demands for regularization and a just wage, I somehow got the ire of the President. Since then, it has been a series of allegations and answers. Church people have been supportive in that the claim of the government is that “missionaries” should only teach doctrine and convert. The ecumenical community has moved beyond this years ago and all have social teachings which they believe need to be lived out in faithfulness to Jesus. The international community, particularly those in solidarity movements, see the charges that I should not take part in fora, rallies, fact finding missions, as against both the constitution here and also international law which ensures freedom of speech, association, movement and religion to all. It has been amazing the support I have had from people across the social spectrum. But it is also stressful knowing it is the president who is wanting me deported and the power he has here. It is difficult to plan and to live day to day. But it has forced me to verbalize why I have done what I have and strengthened my belief that Jesus is in those who are poor and oppressed and they help me define my baptismal commitment and vocation as a religious of Notre Dame de Sion which is sensitive to the outcast and called to work for the promises first given to the church for all.’
7 juillet 1968 – 7 juillet 2018 : messe d’action de grâce pour le jubilé de Sr Marie François en La Chapelle de La Solitude de Grand Bourg. En guise de renouvellement de ses vœux solennels, notre Sœur sort de sa poche un texte qui dit toute son authenticité.
De homélie du Père Launey pour le cinquantième anniversaire de la consécration de notre Soeur en cette maison contemplative de Sion : « De par sa culture chinoise qui privilégie le voir et l’écoute au dire, et ses talents artistiques, elle nous fait comprendre à travers ses œuvres, la coexistence de la lumière et des ténèbres, la présence de l’invisible à travers le visible, le voisinage de la certitude et du doute… Puissions-nous nous laisser dynamiser par la richesse des diverses expressions de la foi pour accepter de risquer notre vie en réponse à l’appel du Seigneur ! ».
« Seigneur, pour que fidèle à l’Esprit de Sion, inspiré par Théodore et Alphonse, la communauté de Sr Marie François, ici unie, continue à soutenir dans une grande Fraternité de cœur l’engagement de toute sa vie, nous te prions. » ; « Seigneur, pour te dire Merci d’avoir permis à nos routes de croiser la sienne – particulièrement la mienne – et de pouvoir aujourd’hui jubiler à ses côtés de 50 ans de grande fidélité à ses vœux d’attachement dans la joie, malgré les doutes, le questionnement et les élans de révolte, nous te prions. «
Sandrine Bathilde, Associée de Sion (et les photos)
Sr. Marie Francois renouvellement de ses vœux
Les Soeurs Contemplatives
Sr. Marie Francois texte de renouvellement de ses vœux
Sr. Marie Francois texte de renouvellement de ses vœux
Sisters Anne Lee, Brenda Dorrian and Margaret attended the Leavers Service on the last day of term in Sion School Worthing, UK – Friday 6th July. This took place in Arundel Cathedral – a beautiful venue. The service was a beautiful mixture of music, poetry, readings etc. We were particularly impressed with the opening piece which was read by the Head Girl and the Head Boy.
We asked for a copy as you might like to read it :
Head Girl and Head Boy Speech 2018
Students, parents, Governors and all other special guests, we warmly welcome you to Arundel Cathedral as we mark the leaving of very special members of our school community – our Sion family. We feel mixed emotions today.
Happy to mark this milestone with people that mean so much to us – our friends with whom we have grown up, and yet we also feel sadness because today does mean “goodbye”.
In amongst those mixed emotions, we both recognise that each one of us here will always enjoy a sense of community wherever me might find ourselves as the years move on. There will always be something that connects us – something which we will always recognise in each other and something which we hope you will all draw upon to make this world a better place.
That “something” cannot be bought – it cannot truly be described or even completely understood. It certainly cannot be held or contained and yet it can be carried – carried in each heart and mind that was truly touched by it at some point during their school journey. That “something” is very ancient indeed – a breath of Heaven, a creative word, a flap of Angel’s wings, a deafening whisper, a life-changing moment, a snag on the heart, a push or nudge – a light in the darkness. I guess we will all see it differently.
Theodore and Alphonse Ratisbonne – our Founders – encountered that “something” – inexplicable, yet understood – heart-stopping, yet life-giving. A calling that seemed to rattle their bones, and shake their core – yet it came as a whisper in a still, small voice and was then confirmed through the miraculous.
This energy of that “something” that Theodore and Alphonse would recognise to be the very Spirit of God, continues to give life to our school. Their vision of hope, dialogue, understanding, unity, peace and love continues to bounce around the rooms and corridors of Our Lady of Sion School. It is still as powerful now as it was then. It is indeed the very cornerstone on which our great school is built. Like the Olympian torch bearer passes on the flame, so have numerous Sionians faithfully passed on the beacon of hope and understanding that they learned about in the very same place that you too have been hearing about it. “Consideration Always” is a good starting point, but it doesn’t fully encompass the fullness or even the focused ethos of Our Lady of Sion School. Sion education fundamentally exists to ensure that whether Catholic, Orthodox, Jewish, Muslim, Agnostic or Atheist, pupils are taught to respect the belief of the other.
It is our hope that during your time at school, you have been given opportunity after opportunity to respect the belief of the other – of those around you within our school community, those you encounter in society and with those you will encounter in the future as your journey takes you to different places with different faces. As young people who have been given time to respect and honour our own differences – our individual uniqueness – ourselves – it is our hope that you will play an important part in encouraging others to do the same. That “something” is part of you now. You carry it in your heart – that message of respect and unity – a love of diversity and individuality. It’s a required light in a darkening world. We hope that you are firmly rooted in Sion because the message that Sion offers the world today is just as powerful as it was when Alphonse and Theodore first put their faith into action.
Pope Francis said this in his address at World Youth Day Prayer Vigil:
Life nowadays tells us that it is much easier to concentrate on what divides us, what keeps us apart. People try to make us believe that being closed in on ourselves is the best way to keep safe from harm. Today, we adults need you to teach us how to live in diversity, in dialogue, to experience multiculturalism not as a threat but an opportunity. Have the courage to teach us that it is easier to build bridges than walls! Together we ask that you challenge us to take the path of community…to build bridges.
We believe that these words epitomise the spirit of Sion and carry the energy – “that something” – that Theodore and Alphonse used to ignite their own flames. Let’s keep our torches burning and never forget that we were fortunate enough to catch that flame. We are forever connected because of what we have learned. May we all go out there and build bridges. May we all take the path of community and serve the other. Keep the flames burning and forever remember where it was first ignited. We wish you all a very special Leavers’ Service but do remember that you will always belong to the family of Sion.