UISG news: From the Desk of the Executive Secretary
Each month at UISG brings new developments and the possibility of building new relationships. We are doing this in order to collaborate on behalf of female religious life with other organizations and groups who are working in areas of common interest.
The recent document New Wine in New Wineskins: The Consecrated Life and its Ongoing Challenges Since Vatican II from the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (CICLSAL) speaks about “going beyond the models that we have inherited in order to appreciate the newness brought on by the Spirit.” Building solidarity networks is surely one of these new ways. As you will read we have been networking extensively in the field of communication in order to find ways to explain the charism of religious life to new generations. In strengthening our Talitha Kum anti-trafficking network at a global level, we are working to answer the appeal of Pope Francis “to adequately counteract this aberrant plague, this modern form of slavery.”
The Statutes of UISG speak about the Union maintaining relations of inter-communication and collaboration with Conferences of Religious at various levels. Therefore in the course of each year the members of various conferences come to visit UISG. In addition the President, Executive Secretary and/or a member of the Executive Board represent the Union at various meetings of national or continental conferences of religious or at conferences on religious life. During these past months the Union was represented in June at a Conference in Hayes (UK) organized by the Claretians; in August at the LCWR Annual Assembly and at the UISG Constellation Meeting (C2- USA) and finally in late August/early September at the ACWECA Assembly in Dar-Es-Salaam. The themes of these various gatherings give an indication of the topics that are of concern in different parts of the world.
The Conference of Religious of England and Wales had as its focus: Unless the Grain of Wheat Dies… Death or Resurrection: An Exploration of Religious Life in the UK Today. One of the speakers Fr. José Cristo Rey García Paredes CMF spoke about the Art of Dying Charismatically recalling that “When an Institute or a Community ends its days glorifying God, forgiving others, offering the best of themselves, then that Institute or Community imitates Jesus.”
The LCWR Assembly had as its theme: Being the Presence of Love: The Power of Transformation. Dr. Christopher Pramuk, whose presentation was titled Leaning into the Mystery of Resurrection Faith, emphasised “the vulnerability of living from this vision of a future that cannot yet be seen, of loving and leading others into these liminal spaces between life and death, between what is and what is yet possible.”
The ACWECA Assembly addressed the theme: Revitalize our Solidarity for Deeper Evangelization in Today’s Complex Reality within the Region. While there are many challenges for religious in the area of Eastern and Central Africa, there is a growing sense of solidarity and mutual support among congregational leaders. In his address to participants Cardinal João Braz de Aviz shared his reflections on the content of the new document New Wine in New Wineskins. The challenges that have been identified for contemporary religious life include deepening the vocation and identity of consecrated life; new choices with regard to formation; human relationships especially the reciprocity between women and men; the service of authority and finally relational models. He concluded his reflections by pointing out that there is a need for religious life to transition to a spirituality of communion lived with intense generosity and conviction which will encompass all of our relationships.
Participants at the November meetings of the Council of 16 will reflect together on the document New Wine and New Wineskins and its implications, especially in relation to the service of authority and the type of accompaniment needed at all stages of formation which will sustain perseverance and fidelity. The meeting of the Council of 18 will share reflections on a similar area asking: What are the support systems – or lack thereof – for priests and religious in mission territories that promote perseverance and growth in their vocation? Perhaps one or more of the areas mentioned here require some in-depth reading and reflection and sharing of experiences on the part of congregational leaders? We hope to take up some of these topics in future editions of the bulletin.