Sunday, 7th June 2015 – Opening of the 30th Congregational Chapter
Feast of Corpus Christi
9:30 am Opening Ritual in the Chapel
10:45 am Morning Break in the Rotunda
11:15 am Opening Address – Brigid Lawlor, Congregational Leader
(in the Chapter Room)
Election of Tellers
12:30 pm Lunch
2:00 pm Gathering the Discerning Community
2:45 pm Afternoon Break
3:15 pm Gathering the Discerning Community (continued)
Approval of Chapter Agenda
4:00 pm Break
4:30 pm Opening Mass
6:00 pm Welcome aperitifs on front lawn
7:00 pm Evening Meal
The sisters gathered outside near the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the front garden.
The liturgy began by the song “Energized by the Spirit, we risk together for mission” (composed by Sr Edith Olaguer, Contemplative) followed by a reading taken from the conferences of St. Mary Euphrasia and St John Eudes.
“How happy we are to have you around us, to witness the affectionate charity, the peace, the spirit of union reigning among you… Union is, in fact, your defense and your support, and by the strength it gives you, you will extend your branches far and wide. May God preserve and enkindle in your hearts ever more and more this fire of Divine union and love… Look at the universe, there is only one sun which warms and unifies it. It is the same for you - your sun is a single heart.” (St. Mary Euphrasia, Conferences, p. 501; St. John Eudes, From a letter to the Ladies of Mercy of Rouen, July 19, 1642)
Sr. Ellen Kelly then continued with the Roll Call. Leading the assembly were Sr. Brigid Lawlor holding the heart and Sr. Angela Fahy holding the crook. They were followed by the sisters, each receiving a flowering plant, and all processed to the main chapel. Each one placed the plant on the logo designed in the chapel.
A liturgical dance followed called Take Off Your Shoes (Jan Novotka) performed by the sisters from RIMOA.
We then had a moment of silence and Sister Brigid Lawlor declared open the 30th Congregational Chapter. Then the sisters said the prayer of commitment.
PRAYER OF COMMITMENT
We commit ourselves to take off our shoes, to journey together as a covenant community with a little patience, a little humor, some small courage and a listening heart, trusting that God will do the rest. Then we will risk and wonder at our daring, run and marvel at our speed, build and stand in awe at the beauty of our building for it is God’s dream we dream, God’s house we build, God’s caring we witness, God’s love we share. Amen.
The ritual ended with the song We Come Rejoicing, as the participants processed from the Chapel to the Meeting Room.
Opening Message of Sr. Brigid: An excerpt
Today, we are the living history! We have come here to make history. We have come to co-create new historic moments yet to be experienced! Why? In order to “be communion” for the life and future of our mission! We have come to engage with one another as we listen to our realities, in order to build our congregational future! This communion holds new moments of searching together as to where the Spirit might be leading us! It is a blessing that we begin this experience of communion on this Feast of Corpus Christi. This is our sacred time! It is a new moment of history for us and for those for whom we have the responsibility to generate and pass on this legacy.
Sr. Patty, the co-facilitator, helped the participants to reflect on the following questions:
- Being in communion enables us to search together. To what new moments might the Spirit be leading us?
- New moments, such as reunification, always hold grief, grace and new lessons learned. How might the journey and the lessons learned from reunification help us in new moments that are emerging in our life and mission?
- What would you add to the list of what we can anticipate?
Comments of the participants:
- Reunification is a testimony to communion.
- Openness to risk taking and what it might call us to.
- Our role is to appreciate and develop the spirituality that is ours.
- We feel the spirit of God. Love like SME with audacity and creativity.
- Together in communion – with eyes to see and hearts to respond.
- The Blessed Sacrament is also in people as well as in the chapel.
- How to change structures that are making many people into slaves?
- Many of us have not seen new members for years. How to live and work with these realities is a continual challenge.
- Reunification has been a positive experience in terms of inclusion and acceptance; together we have a rich history to connect with.
In the afternoon, Sr. Patty spoke about the Chapter as a collegial assembly and a spiritual event. She reminded us of our role, our responsibility. We have to be attuned to how the Spirit is moving.
The Chapter’s responsibility is to give the vision…We have to create this vision and be aware of the signs of the times. We are trying to listen to the heart beat of God and our world and to see what is coming to birth.
Jill then spoke about the Discerning Community.
The day ended by the Opening Mass (Feast of the Corpus Christi) for the Congregational Chapter