Novitiate Community “Blessed Emilie”
“Together as one body, renewed by the breath of the Spirit,
let us live our mission weaving threads of tenderness…”
(Orientations of the XXVth General Chapter)
We would like to share a little of what we have experienced during the time of integration of the Novitiate Community "Blessed Emilie" in Nairobi.
We started on the 7th of September in a meeting with Sisters Antonette Chebet, Rosa Vizcay, General Councillors and Agnes Mwakazi Regional Superior Uganda/Kenya/Congo. In this space, Theopista, Beatrice and Carmen shared our personal moment and how we feel about the mission that the Congregation entrusts to us; it was a space rich in listening and sharing. We received from our sisters light and motivation to live the time of integration that we are beginning and our mission in the Community. Then, Sisters Antonette and Rosa presented to us the programme of activities that we will carry out during the time that they will accompany us in this process.
On 8th, 9th and 10th September, Father Joachim Zoundi, sj offered us a workshop on self-awareness and team integration, thus initiating a process of self-revelation and mutual knowledge at various levels.
The sessions were rich in content, listening and sharing. In teamwork, Father Joachim highlights fundamental elements such as acceptance, trust, dialogue, having a convincing purpose and a strong team identity. He also mentions that the consolidation of a team is not built overnight, it is a whole process of personal and mutual knowledge and work, knowing our qualities, what motivates us, how we work best… the more we know ourselves and each other, the stronger the understanding and the relationship we can establish between us.
Father Joachim invites us not to be afraid of conflict, not to avoid it because it is an inherent part of life, but to take it as an opportunity for growth. With the phrase "there is no good team without the ability to handle conflict", he invites us to handle conflict by using inclusive language and separating the person from the problem ("put the fish on the table, not on the sister's head"). "Disputes, disagreements and diverse points of view create energy, provoke change, stimulate creativity and help create strong, united teams," he says.
Afterwards, Sisters Antonette and Rosa continued to accompany us along the lines of self-revelation with exercises and dynamics in which we shared our experience of God at significant moments in our lives, about our families, what pleases us, what displeases us... this helped us to know ourselves and to prepare our hearts to discern how God speaks to us as a community.
In the search and discernment of places of apostolate for us sisters, we have visited some projects of attention and help to vulnerable people in the area of Kibera, a place close to our community. The parish priest of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish gave us a complete presentation of the Parish and expressed his joy and gratitude that we wanted to work in some of the pastoral activities of the Parish.
Personally, and as a community, we deepened: Our role as a formation community; our SMR way of life; essential elements of the Novitiate Community; criteria to consider for candidates. We also deepened the reflection of the General Council on the evaluation of the Novitiate Community in Nairobi and the suggestions from the Congregational Leaders…
Always in a climate of attention and attentive listening to what the sister shares, to interior movements, to recognising how God makes himself present in the sharing of the sisters,
The spaces for personal and community discernment, the re-reading of lived experiences, the spiritual conversations, the encounters with people in the places of apostolate and the dynamics of daily life in community, gave us elements to elaborate our Community Project.
Another rich experience we have lived during this time has been our participation in the search and discernment of the place of the novitiate.
Through the Zoom platform we have had encounters with people who have offered us very rich elements for our personal formation and smr mission:
On the 17th and 18th of November our sister Julie Buckley gave us a beautiful presentation of the document Internal Protocol on Sexual Abuse of Minors and Vulnerable Adults.
On 22nd and 23rd November, Patricia Mongante (UISG communications officer) spoke to us on the subject of social networks and formation.
On 6th and 7th December, our sisters Elizabeth Chasteau and Lucianie shared with us a reflection on our SMR way of life, discernment, the non-negotiable elements of our charism and the place of Mary in our lives.
On 9th December, our sister Margaret Hoey shared about the Eucharist in everyday life.
The month of December has been dedicated to the elaboration of our community project: praying about it and putting up the lights inspired by the Spirit.
We express our deep gratitude to the sisters for these rich spaces that they have offered us through Zoom and to Sisters Antonette and Rosa for their dedication, guidance and closeness at all times during these months that they have been with us. Thanks also to our sisters at the General Level and all the sisters of the Congregation who have accompanied us with their prayers during this time of integration as a team.
The journey continues and, accompanied by Mary and Emily, we want to remain attentive and open to the breath of the Spirit who guides and strengthens us in our work and mission as a team. Thank you for keeping us in your prayers.
Theopista, Beatrice and Carmen