Little Sisters – Laity : Post-Chapter Assembly / 13 September 2011

The post-chapter assembly was an opportunity to move forward with the laity who share a charism that inspires them and which is increasingly identified with that received by Etienne Pernet and Antoinette Fage. Here, in broad outline, is the synthesis drawn up by Mme Martha St-Pierre.

"We, nine lay persons from the Maison Orléans, with an occasional additional participant, were welcomed by twenty-five Little Sisters. Together we made a start on a reflection that ought to enlighten us for the years ahead. The facilitator, Jacqueline Boudreault, (Sister of the Holy Name of Jesus and Mary) invited us to look at the orientations of the LSA General Chapter in the light of those adopted by the Provincial Chapter. 
 
She quite rightly reminded us that "Being gathered around a charism is something greater than the Chapter". Starting from some points of the synthesis that mention the first priority worked on at the Provincial Chapter, wanting it to be "God who sends", it is thus necessary to listen to His call. 
A good way of listening well is to SEE, then to be MOVED, so that we will then be able to MOVE OURSELVES. With these elements developing in a circular fashion we are able to reach a "dialogue of life", a dialogue that gives life, that receives life and that takes care of life. These paths of life comprise MISSIONS (mission = being sent). 
 
Then the Little Sisters were called to give the "lights" that had come from their morning’s work: They said: 
 
To go to meet others, wherever they may be; to hear is more than to listen; we are migrants (an uprooting that one has experienced…); believe that another world is possible; the mission comes from God, from the depths of God, father/mother, and unfolds the dream of God. It sends me to the frontiers; the common house has grown to planetary dimensions, I have learned to welcome the others who are "different"; the Spirit never acts alone. At the Maison Orléans there is mobilisation for a better world; being with others who are uprooted. One becomes a migrant when one lets go of something. 
 
The facilitator concluded: "A common house, the inter-national emphasis open to others… inter-network, inter-cultural, inter-religious, inter-etc." 
 
We then took up the second priority of the General Chapter: "A trans-formed mission". We were reminded of the importance of witnessing to what makes us live by keeping in mind the advice of Father Pernet: "Do not be preachers." The song by Robert Lebel, "May our actions speak of YOU", was emphasised.
 
After that we were sent into workshops to have a discussion based on the following three questions:
  • What settings for our presence should be given a special place? 
  • Are there other places which we should approach or towards which we could be called? 
  • What steps should we agree to take so as to liberate all the variety of riches contained in the Charism? 
Finally, we met in a plenary assembly, where the laypeople present had priority in speaking. First of all, they explained, each one, what their expectations of this meeting were: 
"To be closer to the community; not to be alone, to be part of a family that welcomes; journey together; unity; can the Maison Orléans situate itself with regard to the Manifesto at the end of the General Chapter? Is there a link with the aims of the Maison Orléans; to live out the present, which is interesting, together." 
The sharing continued with expressions of what belonging to the Maison Orléans signified for each one. 
 
"I come for the ’oil that is necessary’ to continue. From there I commit myself in daily life. It is thanks to a Little Sister that I went there where I am now, with an active role in the animation of the House. The Maison Orléans is an open setting, like a big family. I identify the concretes measures for moving ahead. The bonds of tenderness that we share help people to pick themselves up. I feel close to the impetus of the General Chapter manifesto, an invitation to go beyond frontiers. I am faithful to my childhood dreams: to cling to the present, to daily life, to the little things that might possibly bring hope to the families of the prisoners whom I meet. Opening the door of one’s house makes us aware that, by extension, I help somebody from Afghanistan, a mother in tears from the Sudan, a starving child from Somalia. Thus I come close to those who live in the BIG FAMILY HOUSE." 
 
The author of this synthesis adds: "The laity talked above all of forming a community, of continuing the Maison Orléans project, stressing the fact that it is the nourishment the participants find there that colours their commitment outside of the House." She highlighted the facilitator’s conclusion: a commitment roots one here… attaches one to a worldwide family… relating with those who are nourished from the same source. 
 
We wish to explore some elements more fully during the years ahead: 
1 - Manifesto: migrants, challenge of the new world. 
2 - Priorities: compare them with those of the Congregation. 
3 - Together : the same charism, keep our specific identities. 
 
GO WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH !
By Sister Céline, community of Montréal, Canada
21/11/2011
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