Meeting of the European JPIC Commissions

The Anglo-Celtic, Ouest Europe/Afrique and Europa Sur/Africa JPIC commissions met at the Mother House for two days of reflection and sharing on the theme of migrants, one of the priorities that was chosen at the 2011 General Chapter. This was the third time for the JPIC commissions of Europe to meet together: 2009 in Madrid, 2011 in Genzano and 2012 in Paris.

24–25 March 2012 in Paris, at the Mother House

On Saturday the 24 March we met by language groups in the meeting room "Notre Dame de l’Assomption". There were three tables: 
  • The English-language Anglo-Celtic commission: 4 Irish LSA and 2 Irish laywomen 
  • The Spanish-language Europa Sur commission: 3 Spanish LSA and 1 Portuguese LSA 
  • The French-language OEA commission: 6 LSA, 1 Aola (Associate of Our Lady of the Assumption) and a lay couple. 

We began the morning by a time of prayer. There was a very good atmosphere right from the start as each one gave her name, linking it with a symbol. 

Then, each country described how the immigration situation there has developed since our meeting last year in Genzano. 
  • Ireland: There are as many undocumented Irish immigrants in the USA as there are undocumented immigrants in Ireland. The UN has made recommendations to the country and this has led to some improvement with regard to the rights of immigrants in the country. A forum for immigrants enabled them to express themselves publicly as a group. 
  • France: Legislation is changing. Laws are increasingly repressive concerning the rights of immigrants, with bigger financial sanctions. There is a big difference between the legislation and how it is applied in reality. The economic crisis has had repercussions on the agreement concerning the right to work: the list of types of employment authorised for migrants on French territory is getting smaller and smaller. 
  • Spain: Immigrants do the lowest-paid jobs and also have the highest rate of unemployment. There are from 800,000 to 1 million unemployed immigrants in Spain. 
  • Italy: The country was severely blamed because it returned immigrants to countries where their life was in danger or where human rights are not respected. The Mediterranean must become once again a common sea and no longer be a cemetery for migrants. 
  • Portugal: The migration picture has changed: now, some Brazilians are returning to their home country, and there are many immigrants from the East: Russia, the Ukraine etc. 
Having listened to all that we had a common outlook on immigration in our countries, on the laws that are changing and which penalise the immigrants and close borders. The governments are using the financial crisis by claiming that the immigrants are responsible for it. 
Discussion on our replies to the VIVAT questionnaire 
We discussed the reply sent by our commissions to a Vivat questionnaire, the subject of which was our commitment with migrants. In conclusion, our LSA mission concentrates on two areas: 
1. Formation, so that we may be able to form an opinion for ourselves. 
2. Service to the person: legal assistance plus helping people to integrate into society. An active assistance, not for them but enabling them to become involved themselves, in collaboration with other associations. 
The International Secretariat gave three documents that served as the basis for discussing two questions concerning action in daily life. 
1. "What are the references, the parameters, that uphold the dreams we have for our society?" 
2. "What is our conception of the human person, a child of God? Does this conception correspond with our daily practice of action or of participation in certain projects? 
At the of that day, these are the needs we saw, for us as LSA: 
  • Training for analysis: means of communication: Web and Blog 
  • Training for integrating human rights, including social and economic rights. The economic system is a social and cultural construction, it can be changed: "don’t let ourselves be subjugated by the economic system". 
  • In community, make choices of a policy of transformation, starting from small actions, small events: a source of Hope, as we follow Jesus, to enter into a dialogue of life that, with others, leads to a transformation of society. 
  • Our work: to be a prophetic power of the charism on the basis of small gestures that refashion a society for God! 
Presentation of a method for reviewing life events 
"Living out our commitment with the impoverished at the local level makes us feel the urgent need to have an effect at the global level." 
  • Presentation of the life event: persons and groups that were involved; the direct and indirect causes; the consequences of this event. We review it with the Gospel, the Rule of Life and the Congregational documents. 
  • Action: AT THE LOCAL LEVEL, individual and group. AT THE GLOBAL LEVEL, with institutions or organisations – private or public, regional, national or international. 
  • Experience: personal and community review. The feelings and reactions aroused, and the trace that this event left behind. 
This is a very good method and can help us to review the different life events that we experience with others. It was presented with specific international cases in issue no. 7 of the JPIC International Bulletin (January 2011) 
Presentation of networking and "Pedagogy" 
Today, the social networks are virtual. A presentation in the form of a map (like that of the Paris transport system) showed us the extent of these networks and how they are interwoven. 
For us, LSA and lay friends, we are in some networks, whatever be the meaning we give to them. The pedagogy, described in a Congregational text (Gospel, Charism and Spirituality, June 2011) can throw light on the choice of our networks. 
We follow Jesus, we follow his steps and, like Him, we choose to follow our God by a collective path, a family path that is our Congregation – LSA. We are open to others in the sense of Hospitality, as our Chapter tells us. 
We freely adopt the choices of the Congregation, notably in the path of Justice and Peace. It is solidarity with the same family, our religious family. Within it, the freedom of the individual conscience is respected, the choice arises from a will that is constantly being freed from ourselves, from our individuality. 
The laypeople who are with us freely join us in our choices of Justice and Peace, according to the spirit of the Little Sisters of the Assumption, lived out in words and actions. 
In Conclusion 
"Each commission has given its part of creation, starting from Life. From time to time it is good to meet and share our own experiences and gather together what we have in common. We are ’specialists’ of our life, as much as if we were to call on certain specialists. We have had a good journey, calm, with mutual enrichment. This builds up the JPIC network and strengthens our work as commissions. The commissions are the spaces of reflection and evaluation for continuing the journey of animating Justice and Peace." (Franca Sessa) 
Sisters Myriam and Marie, Little Sisters of the Assumption
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