Soeurs de Saint-Joseph de Cluny
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      Opening Message - General Chapter 2018

Opening Message - General Chapter 2018

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  • 20 May 2018
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“We will be supported, carried along by the prayer of each of our Sisters and in particular by the prayers of our elderly Sisters and the young women in our houses of Formation to whom we confide this particular intention.”


My dear Sisters,

At the end of weeks and months of preparation – where we walked with Anne Marie, our Foundress, and on this Feast of Pentecost, here we are, having reached the end of that journey… and on this graced day we start our 2018 General Chapter.

“ the Apostles had all met in one room, when suddenly they heard what sounded like a powerful wind from heaven, ... and something appeared to them like tongues of fire these separated and came to rest on the head of each one” Acts 2:2

We have come together in this place to celebrate our Chapter, we are like the Apostles in the Upper Room, with Mary, the mother of Jesus. You have come from North and South from East and West, “coming from all nations under Heaven” or almost! Looking at the diversity of this Capitular gathering we might dare say that it has a ‘touch’ of Pentecost.

The Holy Spirit who is the communicating link between the Persons of the Trinity and the ‘Divine Guest’ in each baptised person, this communion between us is animated by the same Spirit. “Communion is the fruit and the manifestation of the love, which breaks forth from the heart of the eternal Father, flows into us through the Spirit which Jesus gives us. This makes all of us “one heart and one soul.” This is a powerful moment of communion as members of the same Religious family. We will be supported, carried along by the prayer of each of our Sisters and in particular by the prayers of our elderly Sisters and the young women in our houses of Formation to whom we confide this particular intention. We are also in communion with members of monastic communities who have promised to support us in their prayer.

During the coming days our shared Word of God will take on a special Eucharistic focus – the Eucharist is central to our daily living and it will be even more central during our time of Chapter.

“The Eucharist is the offering to the Lord of the seeds of vitality that are being prepared and organised by the members of Chapter and the welcome of each one to the Breath that gives growth to the seed. The Eucharist is at the heart of the activities of the Chapter, it is its lung” J.C. Lavigne O.P.

The Holy Spirit who is a weaver of relationships, will help us take into account the needs and the different points of view of others so as to participate efficaciously and to leave aside our own personal interests or the temptation to turn in on ourselves. Isn’t it the Holy Spirit who brings about unity among us and leads us on the path of peace? Is it not the Spirit of communion who will enliven all our meetings and our sharing, our times of discernment in our common search for the Will of God so that the reign of God is established in our world?

“But when the Spirit of truth comes he will lead you to the complete truth.” Jn:16, 13. The truth is not what I ‘feel’ but what the Word of God says to me.

It is Jesus, the Truth in person who says to us: “the Truth will set you free ” John 8:32. It is in this truth with ourselves, in this interior freedom, openness of mind and of heart that will allow us to be guided by the Spirit of God. Freely, I welcome the decisions and orientations which will be taken and adopted by the Chapter and with the same liberty I will renew my “yes” to this interior renewal which will be asked of us by the Spirit of God. An invitation “not to be afraid of the newness in what the Holy Spirit may accomplish in us and not to be afraid of the renewal of structures. The Church is free. It is the Holy Spirit who inspires her to move forward. This is what Jesus teaches in the Gospel. The necessary freedom to always find what is new in the Gospel and in our life; and the same with structures as well. The freedom to choose “new wine skins for the new wine!” Pope Francis

In the Master’s school we hear: “That my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete….and your hearts will be full of joy, and that joy no one shall take from you” John 16:22 Joy, gift of the Holy Spirit! Fruit of the Spirit!

To celebrate a Chapter draws us into a dynamic of celebration with a touch of festivity, the joy of meeting one another again, songs, liturgies, togetherness and a dimension of openness to what is new. It has its celebratory dimension even if, at times, some among us may consider it as a time of intense work or as on a path of initiation that can be a cause of fear or anxiety. The spiritual impetus is for us to say to ourselves that the mutual confidence given to all and received by each one gives us the strength to build our history. This for sure is the foundation and the “raison d’être” of our joy, the pleasure of being together at work as well as in celebration.

For the missionary disciples, joy and fruitfulness seem to go hand in hand. Joy to be with the Master, to remain with him, to listen to him, to learn from him. The joy of welcoming his love, to be sanctified little by little, the joy of passing on the Good News. Isn’t the fruitfulness of the Mission always the work of the Spirit? Following the example of the Apostles, we are also called to be part of the relay and to continue the mission of Jesus with boldness, in faith and in Hope to see a new world emerging: “Now I am making the whole of creation new.” Rev. 21, 5

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