Saturday, August 31, 2013

Halfway Point!

Hard to believe, but we have already been here over two weeks--which means that in just two more weeks we'll be packing our bags!

Chatting on the rim of Lake Albano. Sister Maria (left) is
one of our "senior" African sisters, having already
celebrated her Silver Jubilee!
This first part of our General Chapter was especially devoted to getting to know the situation of our congregation around the world, and the situation of the world around us. We had reports from Mother General (largely encouraging) and the financial report (not so much), and then reports from each of the major superiors (basically, from each nation or group of nations in which we are present). This part blew me away.

We heard about what the sisters are doing in technologically advanced societies like Korea, where we have over 200 sisters (in a country the size of New Jersey); and in places like Portugal, where our sisters, although with a high median age, managed to reorganize their publishing efforts in such a way as to not only renew it completely, but change the face of Catholic publishing across the country at the same time by setting the bar so high. I learned that in Spain, there are numerous chains of Catholic bookstores run by Catholic publishing houses, and they are much frequented. Our young community in Madagascar, where we have only 15 sisters (if memory serves me; I left the report in the Chapter Hall), managed to publish the Bible in the local language--only the second edition of the Bible in Malagasy ever. (The first, translated in 1938, was long out of print; this is a new translation by a local scholar.) The sisters worked day and night, everyone involved: typing, proofreading, impaginating... They had to reprint the Bible just two months after the first copies arrived.
From top to bottom: the Bible in Malagasy, English (NAB
with African notes) and Urdu (by our Sisters in Pakistan).

Speaking of the Bible, our sisters in the Philippines were able to release a special edition of the Bible to distribute to the poor. They visited the parishes, gave workshops on the prayer form called "lectio divina"and led a prayer service in the homes where the Bible was presented, kissed by each member of the family who then promised to read it daily, and then enthroned in honor. That happened  75,000 times in homes, military bases and prisons.

Our next two days (up to today) offered more content, this time from experts in several fields: our "methodologist," Father Arnaiz (Marianist) gave a presentation on consecrated life and the challenges/opportunities of the present time; a professor (name escapes me) offered a powerful lecture on Baptism (this is the "sacrament" religious life expresses in a radical way); a young priest who recently made his vows in the "Institute of Jesus the Priest" (part of the Pauline Family) spoke for two hours on our Founder's thought related to the mission of evangelization. You would have thought that Father Forlai had been one of the Founder's early associates instead of a diocesan priest who only joined the Pauline Family four years ago. (I recorded the talk; tried to record the simultaneous translation, but the cable didn't do the trick.) Finally, we enjoyed a presentation on the connection of faith and digital communications from an official of the Italian Bishops' Conference communications office. (The Italian bishops made communications a priority long ago, and it shows.) You can read his talk here, if you read Italian. 

Tomorrow the gears shift as we climb the Lord's mountain to discern his will for us in greater detail.
As always, that prayer to the Holy Spirit is much appreciated!


Catholicfacingeast said...

Candle lit, Sister Anne!

Sr Anne Flanagan said...

I'll take that little flame as a promise of Pentecost! Thanks!