Sr. Carmen Sammut’s introduction to the #UISGPlenary: Dear sisters, In the name of the executive board, the executive secretary, and all the staff of the UISG, I have the joy of welcoming you to this our Plenary Assembly. I also welcome our guests, our speakers, the members of the press, our translators, our listeners and all those who will help us with the liturgy and with various other services so that all will go smoothly during our meeting. We thank each one of them wholeheartedly.
This is a special assembly as it marks our golden jubilee. We are right to want to celebrate as we remember with gratitude all those who have given an active part along the years, with courage, dynamism, vision and perseverance, so that today we can move forward with passion and look to the future with hope, as Pope Francis suggested we do during the year of Consecrated life.
The theme of the 2013 Plenary Assembly was “It shall not be so among you : the service of leadership according to the Gospel.” As we worked through the orientations 2013-2016, we heard the call to co-create global solidarity within religious life, in favor of those who suffer, including our Planet. Indeed we all have our own charisms, yet beyond these, we hear a common call for all of us in apostolic religious life. EG N. 130: «The Holy Spirit also enriches the entire evangelizing Church with different charisms. These gifts are meant to renew and build up the Church. They are not an inheritance, safely secured and entrusted to a small group for safekeeping; rather they are gifts of the Spirit integrated into the body of the Church, drawn to the center which is Christ and then channeled into an evangelizing impulse. A sure sign of the authenticity of a charism is its ecclesial character, its ability to be integrated harmoniously into the life of God’s holy and faithful people for the good of all.»
Thus the theme of our assembly is “Weaving Global Solidarity for Life : That they may have life and have it to the full”. Each one of these words is important.
Weaving : We all know what beautiful, complex, patient, creative, skillful work weaving is. The commitment to global solidarity is also a most beautiful and complex enterprise which needs patience, creativity and skill. And like all weaving, it starts with one stitch and goes on, one stitch after another, growing nearly imperceptibly. Let us make this our assembly one step forward towards global solidarity, by weaving relationships among us. We are here more than 8oo women religious from all over the world, from such different contexts and languages. This is for us an occasion to come to know each other, to know how religious life is lived in the various contexts, to know how our love for the One who calls us leads us always deeper into the waters of life, so as to be light and salt for others. It is a grace-filled time when the weaving can be advanced so that when we are far from each other our network can become more efficient. Let us weave dreams that awaken what is deepest and truest in us, dreams that will lead us to action, to participation, to commitment.
We want to weave global solidarity : Solidarity is not a feeling of vague compassion or shallow distress at the misfortunes of so many people, both near and far. On the contrary it is a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good; to the good of all and of each individual, because we are all really responsible for all.~ (Pope John Paul II, On Social Concerns, 1987)
“This word solidarity is too often forgotten or silenced, because it is uncomfortable. It almost seems like a bad word … solidarity. I would like to make an appeal to those in possession of greater resources, to public authorities and to all people of good will who are working for social justice: never tire of working for a more just world, marked by greater solidarity! No one can remain insensitive to the inequalities that persist in the world! Everybody, according to his or her particular opportunities and responsibilities, should be able to make a personal contribution to putting an end to so many social injustices. The culture of selfishness and individualism that often prevails in our society is not, I repeat, not what builds up and leads to a more habitable world: rather, it is the culture of solidarity that does so; the culture of solidarity means seeing others not as rivals or statistics, but brothers and sisters. And we are all brothers and sisters!” (Pope Francis 7/25/13, Varginha, Brazil)
In his Encyclical Laudato Si, Pope Francis invites us to a solidarity in favor of the future of our planet and of all peoples, a solidarity from the heart, which shows itself in our actions.
Weaving global solidarity for life : “That they may have life and have it to the full”. This is why we have given our lives as followers of Jesus. That God’s Kingdom may be an everyday reality.
In order to weave a beautiful tapestry, the weaver needs to have the pattern in the head and not to be distracted. For us too we need to come with an open mind, an open heart and an open will. As we listen to each other, we need to suspend our judgments, to redirect our attention, let go of the past, of what is familiar, lean into the future that wants to emerge through us, and let it come.
The speakers will give us food for thought. The quality of our conversation in the group work will allow for creative exploration in our contexts. The prayer times, the silence and the discernment process will call us to an inner exploration of what the Spirit is awakening in us. The whole will hopefully bring us to a personal and group commitment as we face the next three years.
On this our jubilee feast we are right to look to the past with gratitude. Let us also live this present moment with passion so that we can move forward with hope.
I wish us a very fruitful assembly. May it bring us abundant life.