Becoming Brothers, Becoming Sisters
Consecrated Life at the Service of Fraternity in a Wounded World
A UISG – USG Meeting on Fratelli Tutti
May 26-27-28, 2021
This joint meeting of members of USG and UISG grew out of a growing desire at the level of the Executives of USG and UISG for opportunities for leaders of both female and male congregations to meet and reflect together on important topics during this challenging time in the Church and the world. The structure and way of proceeding of the two Unions is quite different. USG holds two Assemblies per year in May and November while UISG meets in Assembly once every three years. Normally approximately 125 USG members attend their Assemblies and so it was decided that a similar number of Superiors General from UISG would be invited to join the May Assembly.
The theme selected was Consecrated Life at the Service of Fraternity in a Wounded World. The participants from UISG included firstly the members of the Executive Board of UISG and the delegates from the UISG Constellations worldwide. Then the remaining participants were selected to represent other parts of the world and additional participants were added from the larger Constellations.
This was a historic first meeting which was greatly appreciated by all the participants. It is intended to organize further meetings as we undertake a synodal journey together during which time other members of UISG will be invited to participate.
Testimonies of 3 Superiors General participants:
Sr Lucía María De Luca, Instituto Hermanas Terceras Mercedarias del Niño Jesús (original: Spanish)
The beauty of being brothers and sisters to all!
Looking back on these three days of the Assembly of Brothers and Sisters, what struck me was the closeness we experience even though distant from each other in this shared time! Religious representing all continents, from so many languages and cultures took part. In the various opportunities for sharing, the physical and cultural distance was a richness at our meetings. To realise that many others are walking in different parts of the world carrying God in their midst and with them, confirms to me that Jesus is still in the midst of his people. Sharing the experience of each congregation has allowed me to lift up my eyes and to discover that the world needs us together.
A wounded world
The theme that had a great impact on me was the following: “Brothers and sisters in a wounded world”. We realised during these days, that we are wounded (we know it intellectually but we do not always acknowledge them), and that the Lord after the Resurrection continued to share life with the scars of his wounds visible. He invites us to recognise that we become brothers and sisters with humanity in this condition of vulnerability, and so he sends us to walk among the most fragile, sharing the experience that God continues to transform the world, to make us all more human.
Going out to others with humility
Our going out to others is often tinged with power, with giving, with assistance: we go out from our security and our strength; we hide our frailties, our sin! The Spirit is leading us to go out in this new way; with our humanity, walking in the midst of the people, walking alongside those who suffer, often in silence, sometimes with our hearts and lives torn apart by pain and suffering. It is there that we become brothers and sisters to others because Jesus transforms us.
Sr. Franca Onyibor, Missionary Sisters of the Holy Rosary (Original: English)
I was moved by the invitation to pause, look, see and touch the wounds of our most vulnerable Brothers and Sisters. In this regard, the testimony of two members (from UISG and USG) called me to give thanks for the hundreds and thousands of consecrated men and women who are trying to do same across the world. I was struck by the depth of encounter that happened in the small group discussions among consecrated men and women from different countries and cultures of the world. Our sharing highlighted that all of us, male and female, called to lead our congregations at this at this unprecedented time, are sisters and brothers doing our very best in our contexts, with our gifts and our woundedness. I came away eager to continue to engage in solidarity with our USG counterparts in working for a synodal church that walks closely with those wounded on the battlefield of life, listening with big ears and big heart, especially to women (and including the Earth – our common Home).
Echoes for my Congregations
The themes I am following up with my congregation include “Learning to lead from vulnerability” in order to be better able to touch the wounds of those we serve… also in collaboration with others, explore our part in facilitating the voice of women (and those on the margins) being heard during this synodal journey.
Sr. Margaret Anne Mills, Daughters of Our Lady of Compassion (Original: English)
Build bridges so that as sisters we can enhance the lives of people. Create spaces of sharing and meeting with those who help and those who are helped.
The theme set the scene – Consecrated life at the service of Fraternity in a wounded world. Living religious life by lowering ourselves in order to be with our brothers and sisters. Looking, touching the wounds. The Risen Lord has wounds. Going out to meet the person. The wounded are within our community and they are at our doorstep. The lockdown has enabled many of us to look in our own backyard; we have time to do this now. The rush to meetings and travel is limited. Technology has the opportunity to be a gift and to allow me to engage with my own sisters more frequently.
An invitation to walk with the broken by being with them I discover my own brokenness. Go out and take care of the broken. Be contaminated by the people. Give and Receive. The broken are my sisters; they enable me to see my brokenness. Together as a religious community, we can be with the broken, wounded people who are just outside our homes or perhaps on the bus as we travel.
Learning and horizons…
We need to remember that we are not God. Recognize the gifts of the laity. How can we be agents of change, walking with the poor?
Create a culture of Communion:
- To journey together as wounded people and with the wounded.
- To see the wounds of my sisters and to let them see mine.
Where possible to grab the opportunity to see the people’s smiles and to hear their cries.
(UISG Communications Office)
Click here to read the article in French.
Click here to read the article in Italian.
Click here to read the article in Spanish.