It was with joy in their hearts that Sion sisters returned from Rome to their communities all over the world after their General Chapter: a month of prayer, discernment and celebration, whose aim was to outline a roadmap to orientate congregational life and ministry over the next six years.
The 2022 General Chapter is the culmination of much preparatory work and a series of assemblies via videoconference that started in 2021 and involved a wider group of sisters, each of whom brought with her the thoughts and ideas of others in her region. The priorities set out in the final Chapter Document were first born during these assemblies.
One high point of the month-long Chapter was election of the new Leadership Team. Sr Oonah O’Shea of Australia was elected as Superior General, with three General Council members: Sr Ania Bodzinska (Poland), Sr Maria Aparecida (Cida) Aquino (Brazil) and Sr Iuliana Neculai (Romania).
Sr Oonah takes over the challenge of leading the Congregation at a time when the approach to external collaboration is changing. Although NDS sisters have been working with others for many years, the Chapter brought to the fore questions surrounding consolidation of existing relationships and discovery of new opportunities, in line with Pope Francis’s vision of a synodal Church that fosters communion, participation and mission.
The presence, once again, of Sion associates, friends, partners and co-workers from Australia, Brazil, Canada, the Congo, Costa Rica and France testifies in a tangible way to a commitment to collaboration. One sister noted: “The possibility of open, honest conversations has allowed for really helpful discussions wherein we can explore our different understandings and move towards some degree of greater clarity”.
No less tangible, during the Chapter, was the desire for relationship with God, with each other, with others, and with the Earth. Starting each day with beautiful prayers and biblical reflections in an array of languages enhanced a sense of interconnectedness and helped sisters and partners to allow the Spirit to guide them in the day’s discernment.
At the end of an intense month in which the new Leadership Team was elected and a handbook for the next six years was drafted, the good-byes exchanged were loaded with rich memories and a renewed vitality to live the Sion charism for dialogue, justice, peace and love in ways the world is asking for today.