Group Meeting at Cormaria Retreat House in Sag Harbor, NY
RSHM leaders from throughout the Institute are gathered in person for the first time since the General Chapter of 2019 for a meeting of the Enlarged Institute Leadership Council. On behalf of the Eastern American Area, Sr. Rosamond Blanchet welcomed the Institute Leadership Team, Area Leaders, and support staff to Sag Harbor, site of the first RSHM foundation in the United States. In sending sisters to the United States, Fr. Gailhac said, “I truly believe that God wants us to open a great door to this immense country.” (Gailhac 1-2-87)
Sr. Roz reminded us of the threshold we symbolically crossed three years ago. She reflected that in crossing the threshold of the Atlantic Ocean in 1877, the Institute has been blessed. In the midst of Sag Harbor’s natural beauty, she invited the members of the EILC to “enjoy and enter deeply into” these gifts of the Creator. To pray, and converse about “the Holy Spirit’s invitation to us now and into the future.
Members of the EILC include the Institute Leadership Team:
Sisters Margaret Fielding, Maria Aparecida Moreira, Ana Luísa Pinto, Sipiwe Phiri and Monica Walsh. Area Leaders: Rosamond Blanchet (EAA), Kathleen Kelemen and Cathy Minhoto (WAA) Cristina Caetano (B), Maria Teresa Nogueira (P), Váleria Erneio (M), Coltrida Mooya (Z), Kate Nolan (NEA), Bernadette McNamara (F). Also participating are Susan Gardella and Catherine Vincie, Area Council members and Rosemary Mwagarezano, Novitiate Directress.
Brid Long, SSL, serves as the meeting Facilitator, with Sisters M do Rosário Durães and Veronica Brand translating. Assisting the secretary is Sr. Margaret Hoyne, and Sr. Joanne Safian is assisting with technology. Sr. Mary Genino is coordinating communications.
Sr. Margaret Fielding, Institute Leader, welcomed all the morning of November 9. Reflecting on the theme, Margaret invited the EILC members to “listen with our hearts and minds, to be attentive to God’s Spirit speaking to us in the events of our world, Church and Institute – and in one another.” It is hoped that the EILC meeting will be a synodal experience, “a time of active listening, encounter and discernment.”
Morning prayer, prepared by the ILT, invited all to continue to journey together, to deepen the bonds of unity, and to strengthen ties and support among the members of the EILC. The conversations that followed provided an opportunity for the members to know one another and the reality of each Area better, which is so important as we move forward in becoming one unit of governance. Each of the Area Leaders had an opportunity to share what was in her heart. While acknowledging that we are in a time of transition which has its challenges, hope and energy for our RSHM mission characterized their sharing.
The Institute Leadership Team presented the first part of their report in the afternoon. As we are midway into our response to the 2019 General Chapter commitment to move toward becoming one unit of governance, the report focused on steps that have been taken in relation to restructuring and the strengthening and expanding of our collaboration in and among ourselves and with others. The report also included an overview of how the different Areas might see themselves in the next five years. Woven into the presentation were contributions made by Area Leaders who shared their experience of reconfiguring structures, the many and varied ways they collaborate and share resources within the Institute and with others who share our values and mission, and the possibilities and challenges that the next five years might bring.
The day concluded with the celebration of the Eucharist prepared by the Eastern American Area. Bishop Gerald Walsh, Sr. Monica Walsh’s brother, presided. Sr. Cathy Minhoto led the singing with Sisters Catherine Vincie, Paré Moreira and Ana Luisa Pínto providing accompaniment on the piano and guitar.