Saturday, February 2, 2019

Journeying Through the 21st Century: 2007-2019

The end of our last post noted that the Chapter of 2001 called for continuing the  process of revising the Constitutions of the Congregation.  Between 2001 and 2007 (when our 22nd General Chapter was held from July 9 - August 4), the Sisters had spent considerable time discerning,  praying to the Holy Spirit and working on revisions.  While reflecting on the theme, "Impress Your Image on Me," the members of the 22nd General Chapter noted three guidelines that were evident in the revised Constitutions:  contemplative attitude, eucharistic lifestyle and repeated reference to Mother Pauline.

They noted further,  "These Constitutions reflect our life and are a invitation to live.  Spirit and rule have become a unity here, as has been the desire of many Sisters. Now it is the wish of the General Chapter that these Constitutions guide and inspire us to bring Jesus' love, joy, peace and healing in response to the cries of the human family" (General Chapter Document, 2007).

[Before reading further, recall this post which delineated the restructuring of the Congregation as a result of the 1926 General Chapter, thereby forming two Provinces each in North and South America and one in Germany, and allowing for the transfer of the Generalate from Germany to Rome.]

After the 22nd General Chapter in 2007, another process of restructuring began in the Congregation, continuing until the 23rd General Chapter in 2013 and beyond.   The theme of the 23rd General Chapter (from July 2 - 23, 2013) was, "I Will Give You a Future and a Hope." The members of this Chapter asked, "To what is God calling us today with our possibilities and limitations? What is our task in a changing and globalized world?"  In addition to considering the themes of the vows, community life, reconciliation, initial and ongoing formation and relationships with the laity, the Chapter members "drew up a mandate for the new Superior General [Sister Maria del Rosario Castro of the Uruguay/Argentina Province] and her Council to continue the reconfiguration process over the next six years.  The Sisters of the Congregation should be involved in the process.  We move forward in great hope and with more clarity toward our goal 'that all may be one'" (General Chapter Document, 2013).

Sister Anna Schwanz, SCC, reflected on the restructuring in this way: "Greater expansion, extensive distances and increase in membership led to the division of the Provinces in 1926.  Decreasing numbers and a stronger closing of ranks while maintaining diversity are leading considerations today in the opposite direction, possibly even to the dissolution of Provinces" (Als Antwort Auf Gottes Ruf, p. 170, © 2016, Bonifatius, English translation by Sister Mary Perpetua Rehle, SCC).

Additionally, Sister Anna summarized the restructuring:
  • The new foundation in the Philippines in 1995 was from its beginning directly responsible to the Generalate.  Today it has the status of a Delegation, but is still directly responsible to the Generalate.
  • After the General Chapter of 2007, when the Provincial Superior of Uruguay/Argentina was elected to the Generalate, a restructuring of the Province followed because of the small number of Sisters. . . . After various changes, an evaluation of experiences and a reworking of guidelines, it now has the status of a Region.
  • [In 2012, the North American] Western Province asked to be changed to a Delegation and to be responsible to the Generalate.  After the General Chapter of 2013, the Province had the status of a Region.
  • After thorough consideration, very lively discussions, intervals for prayer, the Sisters of the German Province asked to change the status of the Province to that of a Delegation.  This took place in stages until July 16, 2016, when the German Province officially became the German Region.
  • A proposal at the General Chapter of 2013 to move the Generalate from Rome back to Paderborn, Germany was approved by the Generalate in 2014. Thus, "The path from Paderborn to Rome, which was decided in 1926 and finally carried out in 1955, is now after 60 years leading back to its beginning  (pp. 170-174).  [Note: This move took place in December 2017.]
As we anticipate the 24th General Chapter of the Congregation of the Sisters of Christian Charity, from July 1 to 22, 2019 in Paderborn, these posts have attempted to trace the history of our General Chapters from 1879 to present.  It is our hope that, rather than having been a mere timeline, these posts have reflected a faith-filled journey by a Congregation of women religious who strive to "glorify God by letting the love of Christ so permeate and fill us that it flows over to love of others in our service of the Church" (Constitutions, Article 2).

It is fitting that we conclude these posts as Sister Anna concluded Als Antwort Auf Gottes Ruf:  "It is with wonder and gratitude that we remember the path that the Congregation has traveled . . . sometimes full of joy and trustful certainty, sometimes with hesitation and uncertain steps, but always with trust in God's guidance. . . . Our history is the foundation upon which we stand today and minister, which permeates our life in the here and now.  The history which we are 'writing' with our lives in the present is, in turn, the foundation for future generations.  May it not be written just for the Archives!" (p. 174).

With tomorrow's post, we will begin to focus on the Provincial Chapter of the North American Eastern Province.  After an introductory post, we will share pre-Chapter reflections by some of the Sisters of Christian Charity of the North American Eastern Province.  We hope you will read these posts which will continue to pave the way as we prayerfully move toward our Provincial Chapter.
Do you have questions you would like us to address in these posts?  Please reply to this post and let us know!

The Sisters of Christian Charity of the North American Eastern Province will hold our Provincial Chapter from February 14-18, 2019.  Please join us in praying the prayer for our Provincial Chapter.

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