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03/07/2010: General House - Rome | Photo gallery

On behalf of the four of us welcome  each one of you as a delegate to the 25thChapter of the congregation. For some of you it is your first  time participating in a General Chapter. A special welcome to you.


Welcome to our secretaries – sisters  - to Monique and Agnès as well as to Ritsuko our secretary here in Rome.

Welcome to our facilitators – Brid and Ignacio – we will introduce them later.

Welcome to our translators in the cabins:  To Anne Marie Driss – To Daniela – to Isabel. Maria do Rosario.


This time we have five translators in cyberspace.  All the written translations for the chapter will be done by e mail. Irene Borges will cover the Portuguese/French/English – Soledad will cover the Spanish/French/English – Maureen  Scrine/Kathy and Anne Cécil will cover English French.


I want to mention the support staff from our house here in Rome:   Diba our cook will be helping with morning coffee and the afternoon break.  Patrizia will be available for various financial transactions and business and Luis will be available to assist in moving and collecting whatever might be necessary from the house or the shops.


Many of you have already helped in the preparation for today and for the chapter.  Marie Christine decorated the candle by proxy - from Grandbourg sending clear and illustrated instructions as well as the cut out pieces of wax!!!


A general chapter is a canonical moment in the life of a religious congregation………Each delegate  and ex-officio member of the chapter has a canonical responsibility to the congregation during this time when we are in session. The office of the Sacred Congregation is open and available on the telephone should we need them for consultation!


The chapter is a moment, when we can have  a very concrete experience of communal obedience – if we accept to be truly open to the Spirit…to let go of  fixed ideas we may have brought from our  provinces or region.


The chapter is a moment where we are called and can experience good team work.  It is a moment when we share faith and prayer and when our liturgical moments are very focused and  the time is taken to make them beautiful.  It is usually a time of fun, enjoyment and good community experience.  It is certainly a time of good cultural and linguistic exchange. A chapter demands stamina and hard work.


We have received many expressions by e mail/fax and  telephone from around the congregation as well as from our companions in religious life here in Rome.  So we are being supported in prayer like a  great cushion surrounding us.


During the chapter on July 14thwe will honour Cardinal Kasper who is retiring from the Commission for Christian Unity  with a new award that we have created – the Cardinal Bea award for services in Jewish Christian relations and in memory of the work of Cardinal Bea.

On the recommendation of Celia Deutsch  we have invited Fr Jean-Pierre Ruiz  a theologian involved in interreligious dialogue to speak to us and help us to share ideas of our charism across different cultures.


We have invited three associates to be with us for four days. To share ideas with us and help us move forward with a clearer direction.


And so each one of us has been called to this chapter with a special responsibility to the congregation. It is a challenging moment in the life of the congregation – a turning point. It is a time for us to be truly open courageously to the gift the Spirit is ready to communicate to us….


Our French founding mothers were courageous as they stepped out from France to all the continents.  Our world is so much smaller now and we are far more knowledgeable about our world than our founding mothers were.  Do we have equal courage to make the necessary changes to the congregation  - as dramatic in their own way as the changes that were made by our  elder French sisters all those years  ago? Do we have a congregational mentality like they seemed to have – or are we now too locked into our own provinces?


We launched the year of renewal for the congregation in 2007 – it still seems to us that an  ongoing deep personal renewal is essential for any changes to be accepted and implemented with integrity. 


I have been reflecting on another  text for these last few months, which I would like to share with you. It is the short phrase from Genesis chapter 3 – “where are you”?  Ayeka. Much has been written around this text as many of you will know, particularly in the Hassidic tradtion. I   understand this call as a call to each one of us personally from the God within us  Where are you?  As it is addressed to Adam in the Genesis Myth is also addressed to us – if I  can hear this call deeply I already become aware and more self-conscious – not in a self-centred or narcissistic way, but  with a deep and overwhelming awareness of my place in the universe.


 I began to hear this call ‘Ayeka ‘Where are you’? in a variety of ways  - with a reawakened  awareness that  I am made in God’s image–and that each ‘other’ one is made in God’s image. I become more aware that I am dependent and interdependent on the rest of the created universe. I hear in the ‘where are you?  a call to take my responsibility for the on-going evolution of creation – I hear the call to take care of the planet in which I find myself – this amazing garden of Eden - not to destroy it with my wastefulness, destruction and greed.


I hear the call to the congregation with our special charism – ‘where are you’? as a member of this smaller international congregation, with its extraordinary charism - what is my responsibility/our responsibility for its future life?  How do we begin to describe this new future?


Where are we with regard to the congregation as two branches of one tree – apostolic and contemplative? We are surely called to address this question once again at a general chapter and to make some concrete plans for a greater recognition and practice of interdependence and mutuality.


 Where  are we?   with regard to the task entrusted to us by Father Theodore  as a religious congregation with its constitutions and passed down  to us by the many generations of sisters before us? Where are we with regard to our younger  members……what international future can  we promise  them?  What are we modeling?  Are we holding the reigns too tightly – or are we really able to say to them ‘Go –  take the congregation into the 21stcentury – call more people – we are here to support, guide and encourage you. This is good generativity


Where are we with regard to good generativity – the creative passing on of the message we ourselves inherited - to be a courageous  international congregation….you know of course that the opposite of good generativity is stagnation and death. Many of us are now the grandmothers of the congregation – good grandmothering is allowing the subsequent generations to take their rightful place in the life of the system.


The hopes you have expressed for the general chapter are our hopes as well….  You have them here to remind you – let us try to turn these hopes into concrete realties so they don’t stay on our papers or in our dreams


And now we would like to like to invite this General chapter and the whole congregation to ‘choose life’ for the congregation and to discover together over this month and afterwards what this will mean in practice   for our future.

Our chapter has now really begun.  Alleluia.



Maureen Cusick
Opening Address to the General Chapter July 3rd 2010  Villa Maria Rome