Our General Chapter is taking place from 30thApril to 20thMay. It is facilitated by Fr. Yago Abeledo M.Afr. and Sr. Selina Mbuli, Sister of Mercy. Our spiritual companion of the Chapter is Fr. David Sullivan, M.Afr.
During this time delegates and representatives from the different continents will evaluate what the Institute has lived since the last Chapter in 2017, prepare the future of the Congregation, and elect the Superior General and her Council who will implement the decisions and orientations taken in the Chapter.
Throughout Saturday, 29thApril, the capitulants and the team accompanying them arrived at Sacrofano, near Rome. What a joy to be able to greet and hug sisters who had not seen each other for a long time and meet others who we had only seen via Zoom.
On Sunday, 30th April, the feast of Our Lady of Africa, the capitulants gathered in the chapel, where Sr. Carmen Sammut, the current Superior General, opened the Chapter. She reminded us that we are not alone – our sisters and many people are with us, thanking God for what he has done, he is doing and he will do for the Congregation. Then she called each capitulant by her name and put her badge around her neck while the sister answered, “Here I am”. Later on, we walked in procession to the Chapter Hall while singing “Come Holy Spirit”.
In her opening address, Carmen recalled that Pope Francis said:
“Holding a Chapter means walking together. This is the most wonderful experience we can have: to belong to a people who walk through history with their Lord walking among us! We do not walk alone. We are part of the one flock of Christ that walks together.”
She read the letter that Cardinal JoâoBraz from the Vatican addressed to the Chapter, reminding us that the charism is a living reality; it is life that creates and moves forward. From this comes true youthfulness, because the Spirit makes all things new.
Sr. Gosia, who created our Chapter logo, explained its meaning for her, and how she was inspired by the theme of the Chapter:
“The transforming love of the Risen Lord calls us: to journey together without fear, to deepen our charism in collaboration with others, and to expand our tent, giving birth to a new creation.” The logo emphasises that Jesus’ love is at the centre: the heart is the source of transformation of ourselves and of our mission. This love moves us to freedom and to spread our hands to others, expressed in the two persons. The common trunk which unites those persons to Jesus means unity and communion.
Part of the logo is a series of hands, and, previous to this reflection, the shape of a little hand had been distributed to those present in the Chapter Hall. At this point, there was a moment of silence where each one thought of the attitudes she particularly wanted to live during this Chapter, then we each wrote our name on the hand, and on the other side, our commitment to living these attitudes. The hands were then put on the logo at the front of the Chapter Hall. All the hands with the commitments attached to them make a beautiful and meaningful logo.
During the Opening Eucharist, Fr. David Sullivan underlined that our simple title of “sister” is a true one, because our call is to be sisters of Jesus Christ, our elder brother, and sisters of all our brothers and sisters in the world. As sisters, we are called to live in deep solidarity with Jesus, our elder brother, and in solidarity with the people we care for. When we meet people who are suffering all kinds of difficulties, economic, social, political, medical and others, they call us “sister”, and that is exactly what we are called to be for them.
The afternoon was dedicated to the Procedure of the Chapter. The personal attitudes which are required include a prayerful and a contemplative attitude, a high quality of personal presence, a high level of respect and reverence for others, a sense of one’s personal incompleteness, a dynamic concept of Mission and confidentiality in all that is discussed as the Chapter progresses.