Tuesday, May 8 was our first day off. Some relaxed at Loyola; others boarded a bus for a trip to Vitoria which has been called the greenist city in the world! On arrival, we were greeted very warmly by our sisters, offered a delicious snack and given a tour of the house before heading off to the parish church. We celebrated Mass with songs in Luganda, Malagasy, Spanish, French and English. At time of the offertory, several sisters presented scarves symbolic of our unity in diversity. After Eucharist we returned to our house where all of us crowded into the dining room for lunch. At the end of the meal we gave the remaining food to the community to bring to immigrants in the neighborhood. Then we headed off to visit the city, its center, its building built in the middle ages and its old and new cathedrals. On our return trip to Loyola, we stopped at the monastery of Santa Maria de Estibaliz (Alava) to visit a very old church which had been a gathering place for Christians, Jews and Muslims. Our Cistercian tour guide did a wonderful job of explaining its history and architecture. The very modern church attached to a museum has three concentric circles: the circle of Eucharistic celebration, a circle of the Word, and an Assembly circle with Mary in its midst. We came home refreshed in body, mind and spirit ready to eat and go to bed.
On May 8th, using an image of hands kneading bread, Piluca asked us to consider what kind of bread we want to knead so that it can be multiplied and shared as nourishment for SMR and the world. After hearing reports from six groups, two each in Spanish, English and French, we started creating the agenda for the rest of the Chapter. Having gathered the agenda items, we gathered the underlying values they manifest, values essential to the life of the congregation. Tomorrow, in self-formed groups, we will further develop our approaches to: life-style; vocation ministry, associates and relationship with other laity as well as formation-education of all kinds, in all stages of life.
By the end of the day, it was evident that everyone was very tired so we stopped at 6:30 rather than at 7 in the hope that by tomorrow we will be more ready for the work to come.