Formator's Session of the region of the Amerricas Malloco - Chilli February 20 - April 2nd 2012
FORMATION FOR SHEPHERDING TODAY
Sister Noreen O'Shea Coordinator of the Centre of Spirituality in Angers joined us as we continued our session. She has helped us in a dynamic and creative way to "drink from the source" and to deepen the theme of Spirituality.
Through reflection, symbols and metaphors we entered deep water reflecting on who is God for each of us in our lives today, and looked at how the image of God has changed over time.
A Power Point presentation on the process of salt making in Noirmoutier helped us to enter into a new way of looking at the topic of accompaniment of new candidates and how to journey with them on their spiritual journey during the time of formation. In this process, we used salt making as a metaphor of the various elements of the holistic approach. We worked in groups then shared our reflections with each other which enriched the entire group.
We then were invited to describe the spirituality of the Good Shepherd, and Our Lady of Charity today. Among the things that surfaced, we said that spirituality comes from divine energy within that transforms and integrates our life; it calls us to reconciliation, compassion, and a profound relationship with God and others. Noreen also presented the work of Spirituality Centre and the different resources that are available to assist others on the spiritual journey.
We continued with reflection in groups on the article "The Eight Mountains of Religious Life", by Joan Chittister. We shared what resonated with us, what is new and what disturbs us. Some ideas that we highlighted were: the need to change structures and models, to live a prayer that is incarnate in the reality, to take risks, to use a new language and that change requires sacrifice. We finished with time for personal reflection.
An introduction to the Vows began with a power point presentation of an article by Marie Chin. We were challenged to consider an alternative story with regard to our understanding the vows in the context of today. We envisioned a new discipleship moving from the myth of scarcity to the practice of cooperation and sharing (Vow of Poverty). In a world where we see a breakdown of connections, we choose covenantal solidarity and compassion (Vow of Chastity).
In a world of enforced silence where people are rendered voiceless, we choose genuine participation and co-responsibility. (Vow of Obedience). We were invited to write our own story of what we see as the challenges of religious life and the vows in the context of today. We also listened to words of encouragement from St. Mary Euphrasia in living out our commitment of zeal.
From this work, we asked ourselves what discipleship means for us today. We live in cultures that often are not life giving and we asked ourselves to what do we want to witness to? How can we be a counter cultural witness so needed in our world? We then took time to reflect and to write an alternative story of the vows we are called to live in the context of our world today and from a perspective of the holistic model. In a prayerful manner, we touched realities of people’s lives, represented by the cross but not remaining with the cross as a sign of sorrow but as a sign of hope. In work groups, we looked at the reality of our provinces and the structures that we have for formation in light of the candidates that we are accompanying. We worked as formation teams of the various provinces and listed the changes that we would like to see on the different levels taking into account the holistic model. The first draft of the vows as we wrote them was presented.
We ended up these days with a sharing of each province on the changes in the formation programs.
We have been discovering different challenges from the work we are doing, and we are invited look at what must change in order to live a relevant religious life today. In all, we feel called to be zealous witness of the gospel in response to the challenges of our world today and to continue loving beyond the borders of our comfort and to go to the margins. We let resound in our hearts and our minds the words of St. Mary Euphrasia: “Do as I did. I had no great talents. I have done anything great. I only loved, but I loved with all the strength of my soul.”
Session’s Communication Team.