“Boldly and with confidence,
we set out towards the XXI General Chapter,
seeking together God's will today"
With immense joy we announce that today, May 23, 2021, on the Solemnity of Pentecost, we set out towards the XXI General Chapter.
This journey will have three phases: Awareness - Pre-Chapter - Chapter.
1. We are all necessary, we are all counted, we all embody the Congregation.
In the General Conference, held from April 8 to 14 of this year, there was a unanimous feeling that everyone should participate in the preparation and realization of the Chapter.
ALL means each Handmaid with our name, our history, and the scars that life has left on us, the desires to follow the Lord and to give our life in announcing his Love. In the Congregation each Handmaid counts, each one collaborates in the mission by sharing one’s gifts, qualities, spiritual experiences, hopes. The face of the Congregation is the face of each Handmaid.
United we want to look at the world, united we want to reflect, united we want to listen to the Spirit and discover the calls we receive from the Church and the world. United we want to dream what God wants.
2. We live today in this history of humanity.
We set out under the shadow of a pandemic that has made us experience our vulnerability like never before. In some places the vaccine has arrived, it is being administered timidly, and we wonder if it will reach every corner of the planet or will it be another element of discrimination and separation between peoples. At this moment it seems that the only thing that is clear to us is the uncertainty of the immediate future.
To the list of human atrocities that coexist in our planet and that widen the differences in an alarming way, the pandemic has been added. In one yea,r poverty has increased for the first time in more than two decades, the goal of ending extreme poverty has been delayed for at least three years. In some countries education has gone backward for years.. God speaks to us through the tears of millions of human beings.
God speaks to us through ecclesial events:
The encyclical Laudato Si
The apostolic letter FratelliTutti
The Synod of the Amazon
The proposed Global Compact for Education
Francis proposes fraternity as the key to care for our common home, to put the person at the center of life, to dignify him/her, to give him/her them what is due in justice, and we cannot achieve this without establishing pacts that conceive in a different way the following:: Education, economics, politics, growth and progress. We need to join forces, assume the ethics of care from our educational charism, to fully commit ourselves to the Pope's invitation that education be a bold instrument at the service of the culture of encounter.
3. A world in transformation
We are experiencing an unprecedented change in all areas of life, in society, in economy, technology ... in everything. A transformation invites us as a Congregation to be open, to learn, to change with a spirit of discernment.
In times of tragedy and uncertainty like the ones we are experiencing, the challenge is greater, we have to ask ourselves what we do well to maintain it and what we should improve or have the courage to change.
As paradoxical as it may be, God brings out the best in his people in difficult situations. We only have to open our eyes to see, clean our ears to listen, awaken our senses, and allow ourselves to be affected and to change from the heart.
The Lord is giving us horizons and strategies to navigate the crises and changes that humanity is going through.
Celebrating the Chapter at this time is a grace for the Congregation, It is a call to deepen the meaning of our reason for being, to strengthen our bonds of unity, to work in network with others, to establish pacts with other institutions. It is an invitation to ask ourselves how to imagine our consecrated life in another way so that it responds to this today.
4. The Chapter is a Pentecost
We have chosen this day - Pentecost - not by chance. The General Chapter is a Pentecost in the life of the Congregation, the Spirit is the source of our Charism and of our own vocation; the Spirit is the protagonist who can regenerate us from within and lead us towards the future.
A Chapter is always a work of the Holy Spirit. It is not the task of geniuses or exceptional people, but of people who are open and capable of being animated by the Spirit.
At this time let us ask with boldness and confidence: Send us your Spirit!
Sometimes we get lost in daydreams, ideas and theories and we forget that Science comes from You. Give us your Science.
Sometimes we don't understand your things, your likes, your preferences, your ways. Give us your Understanding.
Sometimes we fear to lose recognition, fame, success, name ... that we only fear losing You. Give us the gift of Fear of God.
Sometimes we lack the strength, the motivation, the meaning. Give us your Strength.
Sometimes among so many offers and opportunities we do not know which way to choose. Give us Your Counsel.
Sometimes we abandon or resist meeting you. Give us your Piety.
Sometimes, lost in the past and in the future, we forget to savor the gifts you give us in the present moment. Give us your Wisdom.
The Lord who has led us here will also take us forward. United we want to continue learning to look at the uncertain future. And we want to look at the uncertain future with hope because God always walks with his people and with responsibility on our part and as a Congregation. We can offer to this world that it may be a little more as God dreams it.
Thanks for listening. We are on our way to the XXI General Chapter.
Rosario Fernández Martos, adc