Flash news from ICCJ Conference in Budapest

Six of UK/Ireland region attended the conference of the ICCJ in Budapest.  A report will follow so we will not give lots of details here, but just a few thoughts.  There were 15 participants from Sion, 6 from our region, as well as Jilvaneide from Brazil, Ania from Poland, Clare from Rome, and Rose Theresa and Marge from Jerusalem.  We were also joined by Murray Watson and Alisha who are associates in Canada / US, Anna, a teacher from our school in Box Hill, Australia, and Mark Walsh, also from Australia.  At the conference, as well, was Brenda Farrell, one of our Friends of Sion in Ireland,  and Lucy, who was a volunteer in Jerusalem and did several Bat Kol sessions.  The theme of the conference was ‘Towards Reconciliation in a broken world’.  There were some really interesting and stimulating the presentations and workshops.

Thursday 28th and Friday 29th June were ‘Sion Days’ where our group spent time together reflecting on the conference and our response to it. On one morning our the Sion Days we visited our School in Budapest.  This is now a state school, but until 1948 it was a Sion School belonging to the Congregation.  We were warmly welcomed by the deputy head teacher and some of the staff.  One of the teachers had been to the Biblical Programme in Jerusalem and others had been to Sion School meetings.  The staff who were with us talked about the history of the school.  They are very proud of their Sion heritage which is very strong.  One of the students presented a project she had researched about the years when it was a Sion School. She had interviewed one of the past students an old lady now. During the war the Chapel was bombed and was never re-built.  However, the crypt of the Chapel has been made into a beautiful space for prayer and reflection.

After lunch one of the staff took the group to the Cemetery, where the sisters who had been in the community  were buried.  It was a special moment for us as a Sion group in 2018 to be remembering,  celebrating and giving thanks for the sisters who lived and died there before 1948. We left some flowers and a candle on the gravestone. (Sr Anne Lee, NDS)

ICCJ Board members and panelists

Budapest by night

Visit to a cemetery where some Sisters of Sion are burried

ICCJ Budapest, an excursion in Budapest

A plenary session ICCJ Budapest

Visit in a Sion heritage school in Budapest

ICCJ Conference, a workshop

Final commitment ceremony of Sr. Wafaa, NDS

Sr. Wafaa Shehata NDS grew up in the village of El Berba in the diocese of Minya in Upper Egypt. During the time when Sr. Juliana and Sr. Darlene lived in Berba, she was the first young women finding her way to the congregation of “Notre Dame de Sion”. After her novitiate in Egypt accompanied by Sr. Juliana and her first vows in celebrated in her home village, she came the Jerusalem and stays with the St. Mary’s community in Ecce Homo. Here she works in the guesthouse and also is in contact with the arab speaking Christian communities. On Thursday June 28th she celebrated her commitment to final vows in the Basilica of Ecce Homo.


“First of all, I would like to thank God for my call to consecrated life in Sion. This is a gift and a grace and I thank God for my family the first to plant the seeds of faith love and giving. Also for being in Jerusalem, it is a blessing. 

A very special thank you to Archbishop Michael for all he has done for me and for celebrating the Eucharist of my final vows and for a meaningful homily. I would like to thank Father Carlos, NDS for his presence and generosity. I am very grateful to Sister Adriana, the Delegate of the Superior General, Sister Mary Babic who gave me the great joy of receiving my final vows. I am deeply grateful to Sisters Juliana, Darlene and Trudy for your accompanying me these past years. You have walked with me, guiding me, and taught me how to be a sister of SION and I appreciate everything you have done for me. I thank the sisters who in one way or another helped me to get here. 

A very special thank you to the Choir for making my celebration so joyful. In a special way, I would like to thank the community of Chemin Neuf for your presence and for sharing life with us. I would like to thank our volunteers John, Cecilia and Roselyn for your friendship and generosity. I thank those who were present at this celebration: the Ein karem Community, the brothers of Sion, our sisters from Egypt, our Ecce Homo staff, the participants in the biblical program and friends.

I thank my community in Ecce Homo very specially for their welcome, solidarity, support and readiness to help me in any way and making my day very special.  I am deeply grateful to all my sisters and friends for all you have done for me, for your prayer, support, gifts and wishes. The generosity from each one of you made it a joyful and meaningful day for me. I am honored to be a Sion sister! Thank you to each one for making my day so beautiful. I appreciated all you did to make the day so special!”                  (Sr Wafaa Shehata, NDS)

Paris: Schools meeting

From 5 to 4 April 2018 in Paris, Adriana, Marie Lise and Mary had the joy of participating in the fourth international meeting of the Schools of Notre Dame of Sion. Sr. Patricia Watson presented her book “Spaces for Dialogue” which was the theme of the meeting.

We enjoyed Sr. Dominique de la Maisonneuve’s lecture on dialogue in the Bible and Mary Reaburn presentation as well. The theme chosen by Sr. Victorine for her intervention was “a life to look for in dialogue”. Many interesting conferences throughout the day, exchanges between participants, and projects of inter-institutional meetings … The Market Place allowed each institution to show how the book write by Sr Patricia was studied and how the dialogue is lived in their establishment.

We visited the college/high school of Paris: warm welcome by the director, representatives of the staff, and students who made us visits the premises.
A performance on Sr Emmanuelle’s life by a French artist, Marie Christine Barrault ended the evening.

The arrival at the college / high school of Evry is unforgettable …
imagine 1,500 students along the wide path, applauding, welcoming … it was impressive and moving! A highlight during this day was the visit to the completely renovated cemetery.

Then the Sisters of Solitude welcomed the group: meeting with the contemplative Sisters, visit of the Chamber of the memories, the exhibition of the paintings of Sister Marie François Lin. A Mass then brought us all together in their chapel.
Back in college we were able to attend a beautiful Klezmer music concert with the band Yankele. The day ended with a very nice evening where good humor and joy were at the rendezvous.

There would be many things to share, such as the Seine River boat trip, the visit of the Jewish quarter, a Mass at N.D of Paris …

Egypt: Mediterranean Assembly

Adriana and Marie Lise participated in the assembly of the Sisters of the Mediterranean region in Egypt, in Cairo, where the goal was the sharing of priorities and plans of action of different regions of the Congregation. The sisters also worked on current structures in their area. Adriana and Marie Lise were happy to share the daily prayer, the Eucharist with the Patriarch of

the Coptic Catholic Church to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Mona and Phil’s Silver Jubilee, and renew their vows in Ascension Day.

A visit to Mokattam to see the continuation of Sr. Emmanuelle’s work, and in Berba to share a moment with the friends of the community and the family of Wafaa and Victoria.

Adriana and Marie Lise thanks the sisters for their warm welcome and their witness of courage and hope.

(From Communic@Sion June 2018)

Srs. Clara and Alejandra Accompanying Sion School Class from Kansas City In Guatemala

We would like to take a moment to reflect on our trip in March to San Andrés Itzapa, Chimaltenango, to be with the delegation of Sion students from Kansas City. We feel truly grateful for the opportunity to have this experience. We feel that it has been a blessing to respond to the Spirit by bringing our enthusiasm and spirituality to the beautiful country of Guatemala.

In our previous assemblies in the Central American region we have discussed the possibility of starting some kind of work in Guatemala, without knowing that SION has already been working on projects like this for some time.

Melinda and Phil Smith (Melinda is a Sion Associate) are a couple who have been working for many years in Guatemala carrying out various developmental projects in this community. This connection was first made 30 years ago by a priest from St. Thomas More parish in Kansas City. Working in solidarity and continuity with the people of Guatemala, they have been able to coordinate various projects. They eventually met the Carmelite Sisters of the Holy Family and began working with the sisters alongside the members of the local community.

Melinda and Phil are both very aware of our Guatemalan history during which entire indigenous villages were assassinated during a 36-year civil war. Therefore every delegation from Kansas City arrives having learned about the very real experience of the Guatemalan people during these difficult years of violence. This knowledge profoundly awakens students´ desire to work in greater solidarity with the local community.

We are so grateful to Melinda and Phil for making this experience possible.

Since the Sion students from Kansas have been coming to San Andrés Itzapa for 6 years, our week-long experience showed us how well the students were received by the community and how loved they truly are. However, they were well known as students coming from a school. Now, given our presence with them, the Guatemalan community came to understand that Sion is a Religious Congregation as well. That is why Yeimy (a woman who directs a group of women known as “Programa Compartiendo el Cambio”) expressed her desire to help us with promoting vocations.

This project is well organized. In fact, every delegation’s efforts benefit many families. During this week alone we constructed stoves, pigpens, poured cement floors, visited persons in critical health conditions, visited a school for children with specific needs and an orphanage, among others…

There were 38 of us in total. We divided into 5 groups, and each group was accompanied by an albañil or construction worker to coordinate each worksite more efficiently.

The rhythm of every day was wonderful: a morning walk to get to know different projects that had been accomplished over the years, such as the construction of a school, reforestation efforts, planting of fruit trees, bee harvesting, among others …. This was followed by breakfast at 8:00 am, then we departed to begin the workday at 8:30, with lunch at 1:00. The workday continued at 2:00 pm, prayer and reflection at 6:00, and supper at 7:00. We closed the day with thanksgiving prayer at 8:00 pm.

Our hearts were filled with much hope as we listened to the deep reflections of the entire group, hearing how each individual became more aware of and sensitized by their lived experience. Each member of the group treated us with genuine love, and was interested to know more about our life as religious and how we came to join the Congregation of Sion. We passionately shared our individual stories, and felt the girls truly connected with us.

We are certain that each person has left a mark on this beautiful community simply with their presence. They have particularly left a mark in our own lives.
We are deeply grateful to Sister Audrey Doetzel who not only thought of us but who invited us to form part of this Sion delegation.

Thank you to everyone for keeping us in your prayers. May Our Lady of Sion accompany you always.

With deep love and affection,
Srs. Alejandra Vásquez Mejía y María Clara Luz Gutiérrez Menchú, NDS

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