Recalling the past and envisioning the future
The past two days were spent for our “Green Pasture Review”. It was a time to reflect upon the three weeks of the Seminar, gather our learnings, draw conclusions, and plan for some action steps to be implement in our respective provinces and regions.
Before going through the evaluation process, we spent half of the morning posing our remaining questions to our three sisters from the Congregational Leadership Team: Sr. Maria Theresia, Sr. Maria Cristina and Sr. Miriam. Some of these questions were legal in nature (e.g. how to deal with properties after final vows), others were on accompaniment and discernment (e.g. handling vocational doubts). In conclusion, Sr. Maria Theresia encouraged us to approach the CLT in case of future doubts or questions, saying “I hope that after these days of encounter we have become freer to contact each other; we belong to the same congregation”.
After the break, we moved into the evaluation, which was beautifully prepared by our facilitators. First, we were invited to spend some time with the Good Shepherd and identify a specific characteristic of the Good Shepherd that we feel called to embody as a formator. Then, materials like clay, colours, and cut outs were provided so we could illustrate this characteristic through a piece of art. Later in the afternoon, as we met our basic groups for the last time, we shared our art and prayed our goodbye. Later during the Mass, we displayed our works in front of the altar for everyone to view. It turned out to be a beautiful collection of art pieces that revealed, in different shapes and colours, something of the inner journey that each of us went through in the past weeks.
We were also invited to look back on the different sessions we had during this time, and to note for ourselves the learnings and the resulting “shepherd effects”, i.e. the changes that we wish to happen. In order to be concrete, we specified, as much as possible, in each shepherd effect, the steps we would take in the different levels: personal, the formation stage that we are handling, formation team, Provincial/Regional Leadership Team, interprovincial and intercontinental. On the following day, we met our continental groups to work out common recommendations to the CLT as well as to the continental assemblies. These were later shared in the plenum.
As we moved into the winding up phase, Sr. Maria Theresia addressed us once more to share some of her impressions of the seminar. She focused on two observations: first, she saw us moving towards a “culture E” (cf. seminar on interculturality: “culture E” is the new culture that emerges from the interaction of different cultures); second, she realized that all of us are resource persons -“it is good to know that we have sisters among us whose resources we can share”. At the opening of our seminar three weeks ago, in her welcome address, Sr. Maria Theresia’s desire was that we would smell like sheep. However, within these days, she realized that we, first of all, need to smell like the Good Shepherd so that our formandee may feel at home with us and willing to be accompanied. She concluded by affirming: “You have reached this goal, each in her own way”.
Truly, there is much to appreciate and to be grateful for. It was good that we were given much time and space to express our gratitude, in different ways, to the whole group, including the staff, and individual participant. Our communication team prepared a beautiful video clip, thanks to which we could journey once more through the past three weeks. In our evening Mass, Sisters from the different communities in Timor joined us. After a common supper, we expressed our gratitude to Sr. Aloisia (provincial leader of SSpS Timor), the community here in Bello, and all the helping hands in the background, for the extraordinary experience of hospitality and love. The celebration concluded, as always, in dances.
Tomorrow we will have our Closing Mass and then slowly we will start to move back to our provinces and regions sharing the blessings we have all received.