miércoles, 9 de diciembre de 2015

Unification of the English Region of Canada and the Province of New York Toronto, Canada - October 3, 2015

On October 3, 2015 Members of the New York Province and the English Region of Canada joined together for a celebration of unification. They are now the Province of New York Toronto.

Signs of joy and gratitude for the unification were in view throughout the house. One banner proclaimed “GIVE THANKS TO THE LORD FOR PROVINCE OF NEW YORK.” A framed drawing designed by Sr. Gilda, Provincial of English Region of Canada, hung on the wall outside of the chapel. It depicted a tree with the names of all the Sisters of the new Province. The name of each of the Sisters from Toronto was mounted on a Maple Leaf and those of New York on a star.

A symbolic ritual took place in which Sisters from both New York and Toronto participated. During the ritual the flags of the United States and Canada were arranged together behind the altar. A candle made by the Contemplative Sisters and bearing the Congregational symbol and the name of the new Province was placed on the center of the altar by Sr. Ellen. During the ceremony the names of all 79 Sisters in the new Province were read aloud and acknowledged by all who were present.

Sister Brigid Lawlor, Congregational Leader, presented the following address:

UNIFICATION. What did St. Mary Euphrasia say about the unification of units in the
Congregation? Nothing - directly! However, we know that she believed in the sharing of personnel and resources. We know that her zeal embraced the whole world.

In a letter to Sr. Mary of St. Stanislaus Bedouet, assistant at Le Mans in 1833 (two years before the establishment of the Generalate), St. Mary Euphrasia said that “our unity is like a gently flowing river that covers the earth …How?...with blessings!” From her words and her example, I think we can conclude that she would consider the unification of the Province of New York with what becomes the Sector of Toronto of the Province of New York as a “blessing.”

What do you think that blessing includes? (Pause for some responses.)

I would affirm that it includes an all embracing zeal. How is that a blessing for you? Together as one Unit you can respond more rapidly to the needs of your Province and beyond. Both New York and Toronto have a history of being extremely generous when it comes to sharing personnel (most recent example is our new congregational leader - Sr. Ellen Kelly) and sharing finances with the rest of the congregation. And how have you done it? Like a gently flowing river. No grandstanding, just acting for the sake of the mission - doing what comes naturally out of your zeal. I thank you on behalf of the whole congregation for the blessing that you have been separately, and now together you will continue to be.

The flow of the river isn’t always so gentle. To respond to a rough and destructive river requires unity. That unity must be expressed by ongoing and enduring action. We challenged ourselves at the 2015 Congregational Chapter to renewed justice initiatives.

We identified the most pressing needs of today as poverty, human trafficking, forced migration, refugees, gender inequality, violence toward women and children, and religious intolerance. In our dialogue, our charism and internationality united us in a profound way.

In response to the global issues we raised the question: What am I (we) willing to risk in confronting these critical needs? I ask you as the newly created Province of New York – Toronto how you might envision addressing these global issues. And connected to that question, how can your unification make it more possible for you to do better together what you couldn’t do separately with regard to these critical needs? I repeat the issues: poverty, human trafficking, forced migration, refugees, gender inequality, violence toward women and children, and religious intolerance.

Tomorrow we will be addressing the questions raised in our 2015 Congregational Chapter Direction Statement, so we won’t pause for responses now. However, I invite you to ponder this during the night. Dream about how the unification can bring many new responses.

As you develop strategic plans in future meetings, together as sisters and lay mission partners, I anticipate that you will also find ways to make concrete the words of Pope Francis. These go beyond the unification of your units and the rest of the congregation. He calls us: To recognize our inter-connectedness with the whole of creation which obliges us to “protect our common home.” (Laudate Si) A timely call for a unified province!

To conclude, I move into one of the final challenges in our Chapter documents to which you are clearly responding today.

We are aware that our demographic reality involves diminishment as well as growth. In light of this there is a need for a more flexible and life-giving way of organizing ourselves for mission. We call ourselves to greater collaboration, networking and sharing of resources among Units.

This challenge acknowledges your relationship with the rest of North America and asks how you as a new entity will be able to increase collaboration, networking and sharing on your continent where diminishment is a strong reality. You are also called beyond to where growth is gradual. I thank you in advance for any partnering you can offer!

With the entire Congregational Team – Angela, Anne Josephine, Armelle, Eliene, Jude Ellen, Reina, Rita, Teresa and especially Susan who journeyed with the New York Province and Elaine who journeyed with the English Region of Canada, I wish you the energy of the Spirit as you go forward. I also feel confident in saying I can offer you the loving ongoing support of Ellen and her Team. Congratulations! Courage! Blessings!

The prayer at the closing of the liturgy was offered together by all of the Sisters. It gives expression
to the commitment that the Sisters of the New York Toronto Province made as they moved forward together for the sake of mission. It follows:

Compassionate and Loving God, as the new Province of New York Toronto, we ask your Holy Spirit to rest as a new tongue of fire upon each of us. Give us new understanding as we hear each other speak and fill us with the new wine of your energy for mission.

Give us courage to speak of hope, of challenge, of grace and blessing. Be the power in our words, the spark of life that we share. Give us the strength and grace to live lives worthy of the vocation to which you have called us. May your fire in us set our world aflame.

In the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, we, the Sisters of New York Toronto, respond with renewed courage and faith to our Charism of proclaiming – through our service – your merciful and reconciling love to those most in need of it.

And so energized by your Spirit, may we be empowered to risk together for mission. Amen.


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