30 September 2017
The day began with the celebration of the Eucharist. The morning session consisted of preparation for direction setting and reviewing the minutes of the past four days.
After lunch, the members welcomed Sister Patricia Flynn, former general superior, who dropped in for the afternoon session. She will return later in the Chapter to preside at the elections.
Sister Rosemary Howarth, novice director and former general superior, presented the Report on the Congregational Novitiate. Her report included
- the context of the novitiate
- the current structure of our novitiate
- some reflections on the newness in the one congregational novitiate;
- some practical challenges
- some questions for the congregation in the future in light of the one congregational novitiate
- some ongoing considerations for the one congregational novitiate.
In her conclusion, she compared herself to a midwife, “one who is called to assist in the birthing of new life, yet being careful not to interfere in the work of God already in process in the heart of each novice and in the heart of our congregation.” She used the image of the Midwives by artist Doris Klein, explaining that the one congregational novitiate was a “break” with the past, for there was now only one novitiate.
“There were faith-filled women on both sides of the break,” she said, “the elders and the young, connected through the red life-line threads of charism, heritage, history, mission, radical Gospel living, and the faithful response to God’s call to follow Jesus in the spirit of Blessed Theresa.
She noted, “In 16 years we will celebrate 200 years as a congregation – a history of continually adapting to new worlds and new times, new thinking, new acting and new structures.”
“My mission and ministry as a novice director is a continuous work of discernment with the women in search of their place and mission in the world today. Your mission as a General Chapter is a ‘continuous work of discernment and renewal’ (New Wine in New Wineskins #48): to discern the best ways to preserve, adapt, renew our charism and spiritual patrimony to our changing historical and cultural realities. The decisions that you, as a chapter body, make will contribute to the new wine in fresh wineskins for the next six years! May you discover the fresh wineskins that our congregation needs to hold the new wine that flows through our old and new members. We will have a future full of hope and new life IF our life gives witness to the Gospel values that Jesus injected into the world in his day. Our world needs those gospel values and the new wine and fresh wineskins of our SSND charism today.”
New Wine in New Wineskins: The Consecrated Life and Its Ongoing Challenges Since Vatican II, GUIDELINES. Publication of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, approved by Pope Francis on 3 January 2017, Number 37.