The annual Euro assembly took place from 17 to 23 August 2019 at the Motherhouse in Steyl. We began our days together with a silent prayer in the chapel at the shrine of our co-foundresses. The SVD Euro Zonal Coordinator Fr. Peter Dusicka celebrated the Eucharist with the group and gave a short report about SVD Euro Zone. Sister Brenda Dolphin, from the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy, facilitated the meeting with competence and helped us to be focused.
According to the topic: “Journeying together towards the future as SSpS Europe”, each province/region presented their realities, dreams, hopes, challenges, and plans for the next 5 -10 years. Although each province/region has its specific situation, there were many common aspects of religious missionary life in Europe. In her report, Sr. Krystyna Szweda, the Euro Coordinator gave an overview of the SSpS journey at the Euro level over the last three years and the changing role of the Euro Coordinator.
The report of the European Council, presented by Srs. Anna-Maria Kofler and Maria Jose da Silva Rebelo, highlighted the current European political/social realities and the challenges they present for us as SSpS. They emphasized the situation of the refugees and the increasing influence of right-wing political parties.
Srs. Maria Theresia Hörnemann and Mary John Kudiyiruppil, from the Congregational Leadership Team, shared some of their insights and reflections regarding the strengths and challenges of Europe and the SSpS in Europe:
- There is a readiness to be sent, to pool resources together, to volunteer, let go, make bold decisions concerning new joint projects. Geographical closeness also brings with it possibilities for greater collaboration.
- There are also challenges. Do we appreciate that we are different from each other—our history, our culture? Are all the provinces/regions really in favor of merging? Are our sisters from other countries free to express what they feel? Is there an understanding between generations? Will we have sisters for leadership in the future?
Sr. Hemma Jaschke, Provincial Leader of Austria, and Sr. Mary Joy Quizan, Novice Directress in Rome, reported about the English-speaking Novitiate in Europe (ENE). Two novices finished their canonical year and went for apostolic experience in Slovakia and England. Four postulants will start their novitiate in September: one each from Russia, Poland, Japan, and the Philippines.
A lot of time was spent in the discussion of the revised Euro Statutes. Some changes were made and approved by the provincial/regional leaders. They are as follows:
- the Euro Council will consist of 3 members of the PLs/RLs group ad experimentum for three years
- the Euro Council office and the Euro Archives will be located in Steyl
The PLs/ RLs and LGC met several times to discern and elect the new Euro Council and to make other decisions. Sr. Maria Theresia, who presided the election process, announced the names of the new members of the SSpS Euro Council (2019-2022).
Chairperson – Sr. Maria Jose da Silva Rebelo (Regional Leader of Spain/Portugal)
Councillor – Sr. Anna-Maria Kofler (Provincial Leader of Germany)
Councillor – Sr. Celine Chacko Padinjareanasseril (Provincial Leader of The Netherlands)
All the Sisters congratulated the elected leaders and assured them of their support.
After searching for the next concrete steps, we decided to strengthen the collaboration in vocation promotion and ongoing formation.
Sr. Krystyna showed the new historical booklet, which is currently in production. The booklet is the story of how SSpS in Europe have worked together over the last 30 years. It is a way of treasuring our shared history and preserving it for future generations.
With a heart full of gratitude and new hope, we celebrated the closing Eucharist with the whole Motherhouse Community. Strengthened by all the experiences and aware of the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we continue journeying together towards the future as “SSpS Europe”.
SSpS at the Euro-Assembly 2019