Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Day 8 of the General Chapter

It was a busy day today. After mass, presided by the Canadian Region, we worked all morning in the Aula. 

After the usual practical notices, the moderator, Dom Roberto, introduced three members of the International Association of the Lay Cistercian Communities. Tina, Teresa and Jacques, gave us an introduction into the working, the joys and challenges of the Association. They stressed the importance of the link with the local Cistercian Community, whether ocso, O. Cist., or Bernardines, for the inspiration to live the Cistercian Charisma into their lives as lay people. After their talk and some Q&A, some names were proposed to become a liaison person between the Association and the Order.

Next, Mother Mary Helen, Superior General of the Bernardines of Esquermes, gave an interesting introduction into the life of their order. With much love she talked about the session they had in their Motherhouse at Lille, France, and about the importance of it not only for the individual formation of each of the European, African and Asian participants, but also for the unity of the whole order.  She's thinking of repeating this kind of session every five or six years so that all sisters in initial formation can share a similar experience. She is such an interesting lady and a joy and a grace to meet her. Unfortunately her program was too full, so she couldn't stay with us for long. 

Next came Mother Noella Ghijs, the Superior General of the Bernardines of Oudenaarde. She talked about the challenges and joys of her Order. In Belgium all 58 sisters of the Flemish Congregation of the Bernardines now live in 3 different places, Oudenaarde, Gent and Bassevelde. The younger sisters are very much involved in working with young people in their world as it is today. The African Congregation (with 84 sisters) which is entirely led by African Sisters has its own challenges, not so much the aging as in the West, but the discernment and guiding of the young Sisters in initial formation. The many languages spoken also form a difficulty for the different communities and for their liturgy.

After these three very interesting introductions, we concluded the morning with listening to the remainder of the reports of the commissions concerning the regional reports. Notwithstanding the many problems our Regions have to face, there is an overwhelming feeling of trust in the future, because of the strength of the Cistercian charism, when faithfully lived to the full.

The morning ended with the report on the dispersed community of Bela Vista in Angola.

The afternoon was filled with work in the different commissions.

The staff of Domus Pacis supports us during the day with good food, tasty snacks, coffee and refreshing drinks, so that our bodies and minds get the necessary energy for the work at hand. We are grateful for their friendly and professional assistance.

Fr Jan,
Delegate of the Isles.