“Having participated in 8 chapters, oh so different, it is not easy to point out a chapter experience.”
Sr. Marguerite-Marie Luc, from Villeurbanne, France, shares the first chapter in which she participated, that of 1969, chapter of aggiornamento, chapter which took place in 2 sessions. The first session lasted 11 weeks and the second, 4 months later, lasted 9 weeks.
1969, a period still in turmoil after the riots of 1968, a period of disputes where everything was called into question: Religious life, the Church, family life, authority, our societies themselves. We were not unscathed by this wind of protest. It should also be noted that the vast majority of the capitulants were between 30 and 40 years old!
The spirit of openness given by the Superior General at the time was not really recognized at first. We began the chapter by rejecting everything that had been prepared by the General Council. The welcome given to the various speakers who came to talk to us about religious life or the mission was rather “cold.” We were on our guard, and we spent days and days on subjects that today may seem ridiculous to us:
- Were we still women?
with all the questions that this implied, it took us more than 2 weeks to rediscover it
- Were we still baptized?
in a Church which was at the very beginning of its aggiornamento
- Were we still missionaries?
in a Church where all Christians are missionaries and in more or less independent countries which were claiming their autonomy.
- and religious life in all of this, with a more or less “shaky” vow of obedience!
It is with all these questions that we undertook our work of reflection. After 6 weeks of “palavers,” discussions and often animated assemblies, we left the work to a group of about ten sisters who for 4 months had the mission of reformulating our rantings. We recognized that this was not an easy task.
These few months of separation allowed a reflection with calmer spirits and the second session completed the work of this chapter which resulted in the Capitular Acts of 1969. A good basis of work to start again on solid convictions but also references for years to come.
This long period was crossed by “shadows and lights”: days of hesitation, discouragement, questioning our fundamentals, but also days of joy in the recognition and patience of the Spirit at work, in the communion among all the capitulants, in the love of the Congregation expressed sometimes in an inflexible way.
The most important attitudes for our delegates today:
In a search together for the Will of God, we need:
- prayer and self-surrender to the Spirit
- courage to bring our participation and availability, and welcome that of others – in true discernment
- love of the congregation
Sr. Marguerite-Marie Luc, Villeurbanne, France
Article in Sharing Trenta Aprile N° 1-2023