S. Christine Barrière and S. Immaculate Nakato.
S. Irma Patiño, for the Assembly at Paris, November I4 - I6, 08
We had foreseen that S. Christine and S. Immaculate would go to France for the Visit. S. Irma had hoped to go to Mauritius with S. Maria Luisa, general bursar, for the meeting of bursars for Africa and the Isles but she was unable to get her visa in time. Therefore she joined us for the Assembly at Paris.
The Sisters in France.
At present there are 49 sisters in France, and 22 of these are in inter-congregational residences for aged sisters at Chartres and Pau. Among the sisters living in Pau, there are three who live in the residence of the aged priests
who opened their doors to welcome religious sisters and lay persons.
The other communities are at Paris, at Strasbourg in our foundation house, an international community elsewhere in Strasbourg, at St. Calais and at Pau, Navarre.
Three of the sisters living in the international community at Strasbourg are from the Conference of Africa and the Isles. A fourth sister from this same Conference is following a year of Formation elsewhere in France.
A French sister in initial formation is experiencing life in Guatemala for several months. Six sisters live alone or in residences for aged sisters, for reasons of the apostolate or health.
Priority for the year
During the day of November I2, the Regional Council, composed of S. Micheline
Rossignol, S. Christine Zeller and S. Noelle Roques, presented us with the objective chosen for this year 08/09:
“How to intensify and live our SMR religious life from the point of view of communion for mission?”
In order to work on this during the coming year, each community group will be invited to review its community project. Various readings and points of reflection will be suggested to deepen this priority.
The visit was one stage in the deepening of this objective. It took place in the form of an assembly at Paris and visits to some communities in order to meet those sisters who were not able to participate in the assembly.
Assembly at Paris November I4 – I6
26 sisters from the region, with the three members of the General Council, gathered at the Residence of the Assumption Sisters for three days. This place is not far from our own house in Rue Michel Ange. We reflected together on the priority for the year, having listened to two presentations by S. Christine:
The sisters worked initially on the reality of the context in France, looking for the differences they would like to make with regard to the values and life-choices around them. What would they like to offer, and how can they be “prophetic and pioneering”?
Then they were invited to present the communities, the sisters living alone and the leadership of the region in a “systemic” manner. The goal of this exercise was to visualise how they sisters saw – or were unable to see – the links between them, where they placed leadership and what they did with the mission. From this an interesting discussion took place which permitted the clarification of different aspects of the life of the Region.
In the light of the second presentation the sisters began to revise their community projects and to share among themselves their convictions and calls.
Time was given to the question of the future province of Northern Europe. In July 2009, the three Regions of Belgium/Holland/Sweden, Great Britain/Ireland and France will become one single province. These three regions have already worked on the proposition regarding restructuring and on a questionnaire sent by the General Council in March 08. They sent their replies to Rome, expressing their feelings, convictions and attitudes towards beginning this new province. They gave suggestions for the organisation and manner of working of this new structure, and indicated their degree of commitment to the project.
At the assembly in France we commented on the ensemble of these replies. In general this decision was well received and the desire is that this new organisation will not be burdensome for those responsible for its implementation and that it will bring more life and hope to all.
At the end of the assembly we took time to look at the DVD of the Carmelites in Baltimore (USA) on Vocation Promotion. S. Sylvie Denis translated into French. The sisters noticed the indispensible link between personal conversion, openness to allow the new generations to be different and investment in proposals concerning vocations.
Visits to the communities
We (S. Christine and S. Immaculate) wished to visit the communities of Chartres and Pau where the majority of sisters had not been able to join the rest of Region at the assembly. In these places, we repeated part of the presentations given at Paris and we had good exchanges with the sisters.
While in Pau S. Immaculate benefitted by the proximity of Lourdes to spend a day there in the company of S. Nicole Richard. In Lourdes this year, 2008, there are celebrations for the I50 years since the apparitions of Our Lady to Bernadette; and Immaculate and Nicole were able to make the jubilee year pilgrimage.
The final stage of the visit at Strasbourg
For various reasons we went to Strasbourg for the end of our sojourn in France. We spent a day there working with the Regional Council at the end of the visit. S. Immaculate was able to visit the foundation house of the Congregation and we took the time to make an evaluation of the international community at Cronenbourg, which is situated in a simple location on the outskirts of Strasbourg.
5 sisters are in this community: S. Ernestine Rasoanjanahary and S. Eudoxie Razanadrabao from Madagascar; S. Francis Nakintu from Uganda; S. Noëlle Roques and S. Marguerite Convert from France. Marguerite is the non-resident superior, and lives in the foundation house in Strasbourg. The project of this house in Cronenbourg is to live in an international community, inserted in the local reality and in the parish, with a service of welcome for non-French sisters who wish to come for a time of study or for an international experience. After two years of life together the sisters have experienced different stages in discovering their mutual cultures. They have progressed in dialogue and the need for mutual respect.
The simple reality of their locality and the warm welcome of the Polish Priest who is responsible for the parish, are a great help to the community. One of the challenges facing them now is to find ways of earning their living, given the type of visas they have for coming into France. There are several possibilities which the community are investigating.
Thank you for the welcome
We thank the sisters for the welcome we received and for their participation in the different meetings. We appreciated the sensitivity of the sisters to the context and realities of the world, and their desire to place the mission at the centre of their personal and community lives.
We encouraged them to continue having meetings or small assemblies so that those who can travel could meet and be mutually supported. This will be enlarged with the members of the future province of Northern Europe.
We assure the sisters of France of our prayer and our loving support and we hope that they can begin the year 2009 with confidence and serenity. The Lord accompanies them with his love and grace!