Called to hope
It’s around this topic that the Conference of Religious in France has assembled for the General Assembly, 430 male and female major superiors of France, under the look of Our Lady of Lourdes in November 2014.
It’s a fact that in Europe, in France, in the life of our congregations, Hope is being put to the test. The Superiors present have analysed this reality : aging, the number of the youngest sisters which has become a very small minority and have to shoulder the responsibilities, the burden and the weight of the elderly Sisters whose number leads to fragile communities. Hence difficulties are cropping up to answer the calls of the mission, the progressive elimination of religious life in the social and ecclesial environment, lack of individuals to put in charge of the communities, new admissions with difficulties to endure, health problems of Sisters still in activity, repeated closing down of communities…
Is our Hope being put to the test ? Yes, but it’s also stimulated :
The word of the Pope wakes us and encourages unanimously while he urges us to abandon our small problems. Even the work of this Conference is unanimously acknowledged as an opening and an accompaniment to find our right place in the Church and in the Society.
At the heart of its poverties, Religious Life remains founding and creative.
- It wants to communicate to the world its faith in another possible world grounded in Christ. It wants to be sign of Hope. It thus offers some instruments : it deepens its spiritual life, it opens its prayer to others, it invests in initial and ongoing formation, it gives rise to inter-congregational work, it knows how to benefit from the richness of internationality in a secularized world.
- It opens up to partnership with some lay co-workers, it continues to be appellant and sees the growth of some spiritual families, it works with other associations or services within the society, it watches over to maintain the evangelical values in the same society, she strives to remain close to the world and the poor….
- It wants to live the present moment intensively : to keep an open eye on how one is living, to have a positive look on God’s unexpected intervention, to believe in a possible future… To develop a « culture of amazement »
- At the core of fraternal life which is sometimes difficult, the religious have the daring to call themselves into question, not to stop on the benefits, to accept to be always available and to invent other forms of presence. Religious life believes in the novelty of the different charisms if they are open to new possibilities.
Therefore, no pessimism but realism which is full of Hope and inventiveness in the serenity of the peaceful welcoming of the future as prepared by God…
That’s the result of the Superiors’ work who worked during these three days with the help of several competent speakers : Sr. Geneveve COMEAU, Xavière, recalled the theological foundations of Hope and Father Jean Marie PETITCLERC, a highly experienced Silesian Father of Don Bosco, invited us to be converted to the courage of hope in order to face the changing society and to transmit our Faith in God who believes both in the future man and in that of the past.
Several witnesses animated the workshops and challenged religious life.
- Guy AURENCHE, president of the CCFD, invited us to be attentive to what stems up, to be at the service of the emerging society in full transformation and whose future form we tend to ignore. He asked us the following question : how can we pass from a rather erratic solidarity to a creative solidarity with a view of a new way of living together ?
- François SOULAGE is concerned about the big move of DIACONIA. He hopes that it won’t be only a flash in the pan but his desire is, that while religious life is engaged in the centre of the human society, it brings to the heart of the Christian community the reality of this human society. Nobody is so rich as to have nothing to receive.
- Elena LASSIDA, spoke about economy as a locus of life and hope, not simply a place of financial profit but a place of a societal and rational profit, a place which enables every man and woman to unfold his/her creativity. Across their choices of consumption, their choices of investments and of governance, the congregations give a message to economy, which is a place of life or death.
- We have also had a doctor in palliative care, who is responsible of the Catholic teaching and a journalist.
All of us expressed the fortune but even the responsibility of religious life of having a word of hope in our society. It’s up to us to seize the opportunity! It’s up to us to consent to our personal vulnerability to be transformed into a source of life. Sr. Marguerite Tissot, Superior of the Province Besançon-Savoie