US Province Gathering-2017

A TIME FOR ACTION

by Sr. Joanne Riggs, smic

After we returned home from the general chapter last November we decided on a plan to share the experience of the chapter with our sisters who could not attend. To accomplish this, we set up a series of Zoom calls for the members of the US Province. These meetings were scheduled on Saturday afternoons in January, February, April and June.

On January 14th we shared a ‘flavor’ of the chapter with our sisters by describing the structure of the days, the base and consensus groups, the social events we attended and even the food!  Each one of the delegates took an aspect of the chapter and shared with the group their own experience of our time in Taiwan.

The delegates thought that each of the scheduled calls would be done around one of the chapter directives. The exception to this was the directive on prayer, which we hope to experience in person by replicating the small groups we had at the chapter in our provincial gathering in August, 2017.

On February 25th, we did our second call and its purpose was to discuss one of the chapter directives—in this case, “our sensitivity to the cry for human dignity that comes from global realities impels us to strengthen our multicultural communion within and outside of the SMIC community”. In preparation for the call each of the sisters received a prayer to pray before the call, reflection questions related to the directive and a question sent out ahead of time called a ‘loop’. The sisters were asked to respond to the loop question in writing before the next call, so that their responses could be shared at the meeting.  Some of the responses to the February call were:

“God’s wisdom created our variety.”

“Jesus said—what we do to others we do to Him—are we listening with our hearts?”

“The sense of ‘superiority’ that our country imposes on others resulting in such actions as: a ban of refugees/immigrants and disregard for their essential needs—food, shelter, health care and employment.”

When asked to select their top two priorities: the sisters overwhelmingly selected:

  1. Immigration/refugees
  2. Care for creation

As the two areas that the province should focus on in the next couple of years.

We repeated this process again on our subsequent calls of April 8 when we discussed the direction statement: “We are determined to respond to a clear call to mission beyond borders. This motivates us to courageously expand our mission networking.” Again, some of the comments of the sisters were:

“In our general chapter discussions, this direction statement had a real urgency within the group, expand who we are—more courageous in efforts—include others—collaboration-work together with all people to bring the message of Jesus”.

“Mission begins with us, we have to love one another then can branch out—all of our outreach begins with us”’

“There are no borders for SMIC.”

And on June 10th we discussed: “In Franciscan reverence, we respond to the pain of mother earth by committing ourselves to intensify our ecological solidarity.” Again, our sisters said:

“the greatest pain is that of human ignorance.”

“ indifference to the poor, waste, lack of reverence for all creation”.

“selfishness, lack of concern, it’s too much trouble.”

The whole purpose of doing this is to dive more deeply into these issues at our annual gathering and plan together what concrete actions we can realistically take to support the directions that were set by our general chapter last November. Our annual gathering is scheduled for August 28-Sept.1—pray for us and we will for all of you.

 

 

 

 

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Sister Florence Hee, OSF   was  truly a sister-Franciscan  facilitator who skillfully walked with us to accomplish our meeting goals.

Receiving input on restructuring from Sr. Livramento, Minister General  helped us to prepare our process of implementing this new way of being one with one another.

 

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moments of sharing

 

Province  2017 Statement

 

Whereas, the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God, living our Franciscan heritage are not only hearers of the Word, but doers—.

And, whereas, we are called to care for our brothers and sisters in need we choose as a province to commit our resources of time, talent and treasure to work together to alleviate the suffering of refugees and immigrants who come to our nation, seeking a new home.

Our efforts include the following:

  • Being in relationship with refugees and immigrants by—
    • Assisting with their re-settlement, education, access to those things necessary for life.
    • Supporting legislation which enables a better life for refugees and immigrants,
    • (such as DACA).
    • Opposing all efforts to build a wall along our southern border including making a public statement.
    • Connecting with the Network, and Franciscan Action Network, both advocacy groups on a national level.
    • Being willing to speak in a non-violent way in order to educate and raise consciousness of others with regard to refugees, immigrants and the profiling of people based on race or ethnicity.
    • Providing public support of positive actions of others.
    • Continuing to collaborate with others involved locally with refugee and immigrant issues.

 

 Comments about the Gathering


For me, the Annual Gathering this year was one of both gift and blessing.  Having an assembly that was so well planned, organized and facilitated helped  our decision making it a more fluid experience. I now look forward to the transitioning restructuring process for us to become a unit.  This time together was certainly  fruitful and Spirit filled.  (Sr.Sheila Madden)

 

When we SMICs agreed on the General Chapter direction on Ecological Conversion, I knew I needed to move this to a higher priority in my life. We have for years been concerned about water—where it’s too little or too much, how to conserve it and help people who need it. I came to our Annual Gathering with one project that has moved me, the desperate need for clean water at St. Michael’s Association for Special Education on a Navaho reservation in New Mexico. The US Sisters signed in twos for a month in which we can report on projects we can or do get involved in. For November, I invite anyone to send me (by November 10th) information to share about any project dealing with ecology and climate change, including water, and to Sr. Janice on any projects involving our focus on the issue of refugees and immigrants, which is our priority for our directives on Unity in Diversity and Ministry.   (Sr. Jane Abeln)

 

The gathering was a wonderful opportunity for the US Province of SMICs to jointly commit to the Congregational Acts by specifically crafting a common declaration  on immigrant and refugee resettlement  issues (see above)  that will be  publicly published  during the months to come.  In addition we outlined ways to work in a variety of ways to protect our Mother Earth.  These include:

Actions about Water

  • Reduce excessive use as individuals
  • Collect rain water to be used  versus tap water
  • Educate others about the amount of water used in nuclear power plants, fracking & oil refineries plus the potential for pollution.
  • Privatization of water will limit the amount of water to the needy
  • The fight over water may lead to the next war therefore, we need to address water conservation i.e. Pax Christi International
  • Research www.digdeep.org  about the issues of water on Navajo Reservations

Social & Political Actions

  • Contribute to a political group that specifically addresses climate change i.e. Catholic Climate Covenant.
  • Being active and making pleas on social media about things that you know are harmful to the environment
  • Watch and discuss  Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth 1 & 2
  • Find more programs or films about the effects of climate change that can be shared with all your sisters for them to be more involved.
  • People making commitment to putting in time to send monthly articles in the community about climate change. A reminder Around and About sign-up list was created and signed (see attached).

Other Actions

  • Plant trees to reduce CO2 – especially in California due to forest fires decimating the trees
  • Growing vegetable plots
  • Keeping the environment clean by picking up litter
  • Sending cards that are actually seedlings to encourage planting.

(Sr. Janice Jolin)