Sunday, February 3, 2019

New Wine in New Wineskins

As noted throughout our posts during the past few weeks, a General Chapter is ordinarily held every six years.  Our General Chapter is preceded by Provincial Chapters, in which each province or region convenes to "consider the religious spirit and the apostolic effectiveness of the province.  It should seek ways and means for an interior renewal of the individual Sister and of the entire province and make necessary provisions for its implementation" (Constitutions, Article 73).  The provinces and regions also elect delegates to represent them at the General Chapter (in addition to those delegates who are ex officio -- that is, "by right of their office" --  members of the General Chapter).

The Province and Regions that have already met, together with the date and theme of their Chapter are:
  • North American Western Region, November 18-24, 2018, "Weaving Threads of Wisdom Towards a Future of Hope"
  • German Region, December 26, 2018 - January 4, 2019, "Step by Step, Forward Courageously, Even Over Rugged Roads"
  • Chilean Province, January 6 - 12, 2019, "Nothing is Impossible for God" (Luke 1:37)
  • Uruguay-Argentinean Region, January 20-26, 2019, "Do Not Be Afraid, Mary -- New Wine in New Wineskins."
We have been asking you to pray with and for us as the North American Eastern Province enters into our Provincial Chapter from February 14-18, 2019, with the theme, "New Wine in New Wineskins." In addition to the theme of our Chapter, which comes from the synoptic gospels (see Matthew 9:14-17; Mark 2:18-22; Luke 5:33-39), our reflection has also included the "Wedding Feast at Cana" (John 2:1-12).  Each of these passages provides enough "food for reflection" to last a lifetime!

While prayer, reflection and conversation about the Provincial Chapter had been happening for a long time, our first "formal" gatherings regarding the Chapter -- which we called "Coffee and Conversation" --  began in April 2018.  At that time, groups of Sisters got together throughout the province for deep discussions about those things that mean the most to us as Sisters of Christian Charity.  In September 2018, a gathering of the local coordinators of the various convents in the province provided more time for sharing.  In October 2018, the entire province was invited to assemble in the new Motherhouse in Mendham for even more prayer, reflection and conversation, this time under the guidance of Sister Kathryn Clauss, IHM, Ph.D., who is our Provincial Chapter facilitator.  Again in December, 2018, small groups of Sisters met throughout the province to attempt to give voice to those topics they felt were most important to be included in our upcoming Provincial Chapter.

We have read, reflected upon and discussed the document, New Wine in New Wineskins: The Consecrated Life and its Ongoing Challenges Since Vatican II, which was approved by Pope Francis in January 2017 and published by the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life shortly thereafter.  Additionally, we have viewed and discussed a talk by Brother Reginald Cruz, CFX, to help us to make sense of the document.  We have availed ourselves of various print and multimedia presentations to help us enter more deeply into our theme.

As you can see, preparing for a Chapter is hard work, but it is worth the effort as we continue to respond to God's call in 2019 -- 170 years after the founding of the Congregation and 140 years after Mother Pauline convened its first General Chapter!

Some of the Sisters of the Province have been kind enough to share pre-Chapter reflections with us.  Beginning tomorrow, we will post them here daily.  We hope that you will find them to be edifying and uplifting.
Please join us in praying the prayer for our Provincial Chapter.

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