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Encuentro Migrando el Carisma

19/09/2013: Philippines

“The works of God usually have weak, obscure and almost imperceptible beginnings, like small seeds which germinate for a long time in the soil before emerging above the ground to blossom and bear fruit under the rays of the sun. Convinced of these indisputable facts I go forward resolutely as if I am certain of the future.” - Theodore Ratisbonne, Memoirs 1883.


Dear Sisters and Associates,

Theodore’s words capture the spirit of our gathering in the Philippines where we dared to imagine moving beyond our past and present realities as we explored the thrust of the General Chapter of 2010 to: ‘migrate the charism’ to new soil.

Our Beginnings:

We were fourteen participants, sisters and associates from nine different countries, travelling long distances to our destination in the Philippines. We were warmly welcomed by the local Sion communities and the Sisters of Divine Zeal in Manila where our meeting was held. The experience of dialogue with the local reality of the Sion communities and the Philippine people was profound and helped us to open our hearts and minds to new ways of living the charism. We experienced this through:

a. Speakers: Angie sharing on her life as a political prisoner; July sharing about the situation of the farmers; Avelina sharing her experience as a member of Hardin; Jomar, a parish youth leader, Rodenia, a staff member of KUMARE. Each of these presenters shared both about the local situation and Sion’s involvement with them.

b. Dialogue with the local Sion community from the perspective of those who had migrated the charism in the Philippines and those who opted to join us as receiving the charism.

c. Visits to Real and a group of farmers near Manila provided us opportunities to interact with local situations. We experienced amazing hospitality, acceptance and friendship from the people in each of these settings, especially the generosity of the poor and the closeness of the sisters to the people.

d. Local foods which we tasted both in the house where we stayed and in the area visits.


The meeting was grounded in the Word of God with different participants leading us in biblical studies related to the theme of the meeting. These were an important reflective times of each day.

At the beginning of the meeting, each of us shared our Sion story and our experience of migrating the charism. Our stories showed two strong common threads; firstly how central and formative the Word of God is for us at Sion and secondly that we had all lived outside of our cultures at various times in our lives. These experiences contributed significantly to deepening our understanding of the charism.

Through the process of individual reflection, small group work and plenaries, our facilitator, Br.Ronnie McEwan, enabled us to move from our individual wisdom to expressing in a common voice the recommendations that came from this meeting.

The generosity and skills of Sr. Cecelia and Fr. Jean Marie, our translators, allowed the barriers of language to be overcome and ensured the full participation of all.


Recommendations and key decisions:

3 major themes emerged during the meeting, each of which is to be explored further:


The presence of Sion in Congo
Particular attention will be given to looking at the possibility of a Biblical Formation Center and establishing a community.

Four International Language Teams
To establish four international teams involving Sisters, possibly the Religious of Sion, and lay persons to migrate the charism to different contexts for short term sessions, i.e. workshops, retreats with a focus on (i) Biblical formation, (ii) Introduction to Judaism, (iii) church documents related to Jewish Christian relations and (iv) Biblical justice.

Migrating the Charism locally
Discerning our mission in our Group of Communities – priorities and new possibilities.

Next steps

The CLT will establish a team to research possibilities of the Center and a community in the local contexts during 2013. Decision re these two options will be made by end of 2013.

International Teams
The CLT will invite/call people to serve on International team for a specific number of years.

* English speaking team to explore sessions in Zimbabwe
* Portuguese speaking team to explore sessions in Amazonia.
* Spanish speaking team to decide possible options.
* French speaking team to explore French speaking contexts other than the Congo.


Migrating the Charism locally

At the start of 2013, the CLT will initiate a process of reflection for the whole congregation regarding our priorities for mission and new options for migrating the charism locally.


The longer I live the more convinced I am that that the Work of Sion is a work of the present day - Fr. Theodore March 15, 1859

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