Day 2, May 10th, began with a reflection by Sister Simona Brambilla MC who picked up the threads of our weaving and helped us to see what we had witnessed yesterday. In particular, she recalled the question that was asked of us in several ways: “Sisters, are you in there?” “Sisters, are you happy?” We were reminded of the kind of joy about which Pope Francis speaks, – a joy that comes from the Heart of God and that the world and all of God’s creation needs us right now. Sister Simona recalled for us the elements of earth, fire, air, water and Spirit, the characteristics of which were presented yesterday by Carol Zinn, SSJ. Through these we are offered an understanding of how to move forward together.
Sister Mary Sujita, SND, who described herself as a ‘voice from the periphery’ presented on that very topic. We listened to her personal experience of life at the peripheries as well as the urgent words of Pope Francis. We shared our own experience of the peripheries we experience and how they must call us to prophetic action today. At one point Sister Sujita said, “I wish we could ask the poor to give us an honest evaluation of our consecrated life as they see and experience it.” She used the term ‘prophetic sting’to describe our mission at the periphery. The questions for reflection asked about the non-negotiables of our mission, what it would mean for our congregations to engage the new peripheries of our world and what are some of the practical implications of doing so? Regardless of these unsettling questions, Sister Sujita asked, ‘Why would we be afraid of the future when we know God is busy shaping our future just as God shaped our past beyond our expectations?.’ Although this was a challenging presentation it was met by warm and sustained applause at the end.
Our journey to the peripheries continued in the afternoon when we heard from a panel of speakers representing Talitha Kum, the Sicily Migrant Project and Solidarity for South Sudan, all of which are sponsored by UISG. A further presentation was made by Lebanon sister representing the Major Superiors of Lebanon. Each one on the panel outlined the situation. Two words that were used during one of the presentations could be applied to all of these situations: audacity and courage. In each case, members of our congregations are working amongst people who are suffering on the peripheries. The UISG congregations were acknowledged for their support and solidarity. One example of the deepest form of commitment to the peripheries was the martyrdom of four Missionary of Charity in Yemen. Sister Judith Pereira Rico ended her presentation with the words, “May their blood cry to the heavens to bring peace. Give us peace.”
Sr. Anne Corry (UISG Plenary’s Secretary)