1 Via Nazareth Rome, December 2013 Nr 24 Penny by Penny. M. Jana Zawieja I wish to share a few words that express my joy and at the same time testify to the goodness of people. In October, I went to my family home for vacation. Towards the end of my vacation, on Sunday, October 27, through the kindness of Pastor John Majchrzak, I had the opportunity to share a word about our new apostolate in Ghana. This took place in the parish church, Saint Nicholas in Leszno, in the beautiful Minor Basilica (this honor was bestowed on my parish church in May of this year). The form of my sharing was very simple. For each Mass (there were seven all together), the priest first introduced to the those gathered the topic of the missionary vocation which is inscribed in the heart of every baptized person. Go and preach the Good News to the world! After this introduction, I was given the opportunity to speak. I was able to briefly talk about the main features of our Congregation, and then shared about the youngest of our homes in Ghana and about the Church in Africa. I asked those gathered at mass for the gift of their prayer, and mentioned that if anyone was able to help us financially, there would be a chance for this. After each Mass, together with the Sisters from the community from Leszno (Sister Bernadette, Ewelina and Paula), we collected their offerings in cans. We also distributed brochures and small "business cards" with the account number in case anyone wanted to send a donation later. We also had some materials about the Congregation. One may say: this is nothing special after all, it is the same as we have done on other occasions.true, but still it is worthwhile for us to express our gratitude and encourage similar initiatives in other places at other times. My parish is not very large, and these days the people living in this area are mainly elderly, and very few are affluent. All the more, therefore, was our joy when the collection totaled over 6,300 złotych. We may look and say that these are just pennies compared to the expected expenses.true, but the widow s mite is a powerful force for good. Ever since that day, we have been receiving donations into our account, 20 zł here, 50 zł there, and even 100 zł. How happy this makes us for each offering flows from a sensitive heart that can see the needs of others as more pressing than their own. What a beautiful witness and example this is for all of us. On this same day there was also a meeting of the local group of the Association of the Holy Family (in this case, we shared photos from the beginning and development of our mission in Ghana). How great was the interest of those present! 1
2 Soon, Sr. Helen (also as part of her vacation time) will be arriving in Australia with a similar "mission", this time to collect dollar by dollar. I'm sure that other sisters here and there have taken or may take similar initiatives. To every donor and for the efforts of the Sisters in this regard, we say thank you! On the road to Goaso S. Helen Tereba The Feast of the Guardian Angels, 2 nd October 2013 will always be etched in my memory, as the Day on which three very excited and at the same time nervous Sisters made their way to Rome s Fiumicino airport to begin the final stage of their journey to Ghana. With all eleven very large suitcases packed and locked for the last time, Sisters Angelina Fąfara, Aneta Grychnik and Fides Krawczyk we were ready to go. Looking at the luggage being loaded into two cars at the Generalate, I realized that we had fallen somewhat short of Jesus instruction to His apostles as they left on mission Take no purse, no haversack, no sandals. But of course, this is the 21st century and one never knows what may come in handy!!! The thought that we were also taking different things for the new home, school supplies for the children and "emergency supplies" such as medicines, cheese, meat and chocolate for our Sisters in Sunyani, relieved our consciences a little. Because of the additional baggage, S. Halina Dołęga escorted us to the airport, and of course, Sr. Samuel Krynicka and Sr. Beata Weglarz as drivers. Their help, for which we were very grateful, was invaluable. Finally the three very excited Sisters were on their way to Ghana Africa, for the first time. In fact it was their first flight outside Europe. The Alitalia flight left close to the scheduled departure time of 2:40 p.m. and arrived in Accra around 22:30. The arrivals hall was crammed with weary travelers all waiting patiently in line for the Passport Check. The one consolation of waiting for almost an hour was that someone would rescue our eleven suitcases by the time we were ready to collect them. And..so it was!!!! All eleven cases stood in one area of the baggage claims section ready for collection. Due to the thoughtfulness of a gracious gentleman, all cases were loaded onto three trolleys (somewhat precariously, I might add,) ready for our departure to the SVD Guest House in Accra. What a wonderful feeling it was to see the friendly smiling face of Sister Justyna waiting for us outside the airport terminal with two cars and two drivers to take us to our accommodation for the night. It was a very grateful and relieved, though weary, group of missionaries who hit the pillow that evening, on their first night in Ghana. And so began our second mission into Ghana.this time to the Diocese of Goaso!!! The winding red dirt road with its various bends, which lead to the Goaso Pastoral Centre, symbolizes well the events of the next few weeks. Just when we though the road ahead was 2
3 straight and clear.another bend appeared another opportunity to be patient, open and flexible. Some twists and turns were joyful surprises others a little more challenging. Sisters in front of their future house with Fr Theo and Parish Council President The first surprise related to our time at the Pastoral Center which was to have been until at least Christmas. However, since Father Theo realized that the Mission House in Yamfo which was being prepared for the Sisters until our convent would be built, was nowhere near completion, another house was found. This house required some minor renovations which were due to be completed by the end of October. Hence, it was time to pack again, and move in with our Sisters in Sunyani, so as to be close by to assist with the final preparations for the house. Sunyani is only twenty minutes away from Yamfo, while the Pastoral Center is two hours away by car along some dusty, bumpy roads. Needless to say, the house was not ready by the end of October. The hope of the Sisters is that they will definitely move to Yamfo in mid-november. The ability to be open to the twists and turns in a new land, refers even more to one s attitude and the letting go of pre-conceived ideas or even recent experiences. This was indeed the case, as the Sisters visited various schools. The more established diocesan schools, especially run by religious, were well organized, with very good resources and educational standards. Children who attended schools owned and run by religious congregations were very polite, welldisciplined and spoke English well. Unfortunately, the learning environment in the public schools left a lot to be desired beginning with the state of the buildings, classroom furniture, lack of resources and lack of professionalism of the teachers. The Sisters themselves commented on having had the opportunity to visit all these types of schools so that they would have a broader view of schools in Ghana..and not limited merely to extremely poor or well to do ones. The needs of the children are the same everywhere with great potential for learning. Without a doubt, we all agreed that the sooner our two Holy Family Schools are built, the better for the children and their families, in Chiraa and Yamfo. 3
4 Postulancy in Ghana After completing almost two years as an affiliate, Dorothy Attor was admitted to postulancy on Saturday, October 12, during a simple ceremony in the convent chapel. This was a long awaited day for Dorothy as well as for the local community. The fact that the three Sisters who had recently arrived in Ghana could also be present made the occasion even more special. Bishop Matthew Gyamfi also attended the ceremony and extended his apostolic blessing on Dorothy and all present. During the meal which followed he stated that this was a historic day not only for Dorothy but also for the Congregation. He took the opportunity to again thank the Sisters for their generous service and missionary spirit in ministering to the people of the young Church in Ghana, especially in the Sunyani Diocese. Sisters Merci and Delia, two RVM Sisters, as well Merci, a friend of Dorothy, and a prospective candidate, also attended the ceremony. In taking another step in the process of enculturation, a typical traditional dish of Fufu and Goat Soup (a special request from Dorothy) was prepared, and enjoyed by all. During the meal, Dorothy expressed her gratitude to the Sisters, especially to her formator, Sister Emmanuela Le, and the Sisters in the local community for their support, confidence and acceptance. First letters from Africa Before leaving Ghana, S. Helen asked Sisters Angelina, Aneta and Fides to share their first impressions of Africa. Below are their letters which were written at the end of October after their first three weeks in Ghana. We include a brief description of each Sister in order so that we may know a little more about our Missionaries in Yamfo. My First Letter from Ghana S. Angelina - Anna Fąfara, local superior Sister was born in 1973 in Krosno (Poland). In 1997, she entered the Congregation in Krakow. As a junior Sister, she went for two years to our community in Enfield, England, where she had the opportunity to learn English. In 2005, Sister made her perpetual vows, taking the mystery of Jesus of the Love Revealed in the Eucharist. After profession she went to Kielce, where she assisted in the administration of our Nazareth schools in Kielce and served as the treasurer for the local community. In 2011, she graduated from her university studies with a degree in economics. Along with S. Aneta and S. Fides, she completed the year-long mission training course in the Missionary Formation Center in Warsaw. 4 Sr. Angelina Fąfara This is a description of a small portion of my life in Africa, written as a letter to you. It is impossible to describe everything. I feel lost for words when trying to make any kind of comparisons. The first days were a total shock..and now we have already been in Africa for three weeks.
5 Time is passing quickly and so much has happened! We came here to the Pastoral Centre in Goaso under the impression that we would be staying here until Christmas. Our house in the parish was not ready due to a lack of funds. But God s Providence was at work. In recent weeks a family offered the Parish the use of a house in Yamfo, which is where our future school will be built. The house is currently being renovated and prepared for us. Work is progressing relatively quickly by African standards, so we hope to be moving into the house in the not too distant future. Today, we will be leaving the Pastoral Centre and moving in with our Sisters in Sunyani which is only approximately twenty minutes away from Yamfo by car. This will enable us to assist with the necessary cleaning and preparations before we actually move. So, what is African Ghana like??? My first experience en-route from Accra to Goaso for seven hours was one of total shock. First there is the driving on the road in such a way that one s stomach somersaults several times. The road was made up of a stretch of asphalt, then a part with a series of rather deep potholes, followed by more asphalt etc. looking through the car windows it would be difficult to describe the poor, poor living conditions of the people. The huts, which one cannot really call houses, were made of a few boards nailed together, or built from the local red soil, and situated close to one another, often with a wood fire burning in front of them. In the region of Goaso where we are now living, there are more solidly built houses, many of which are standing unfinished because the money to build them has run out. The buildings constructed and run by missionaries or by the Church are of a better standard if one could describe them in this way. Most of the people appear to earn a living buying and selling goods in small stalls along the road. I could not get over the fact that they carried their goods on their head, especially the women. For example they would carry several trays of eggs, a tray stacked with oranges, pieces of timber, wood chips for the fire..just everything!!! Of course, this was without supporting the goods with their hands, their posture erect, and often a baby strapped on their backs. Since we are staying in the Retreat Center our food is prepared for us. Even though our meal is different from what is being served to the other guests, it is also is an opportunity to try some of the local cuisine. We usually have chicken prepared in various ways because it is the only meat served. The most common Ghanaian food is fufu which is made from boiled plantain (looks like a banana) and cassava or yams, placed in a large wooden bowl and pounded with a very large stick. Usually it is pounded by a man, since it is extremely hard work!!! Fufu can be served with various kinds of soup. During the meal following Dorothy s reception into postulancy we ate fufu with goat soup. This dish is meant to be eaten with your hands, by breaking off a piece of the dough and dipping it into the soup. Fufu with goat soup is a dish served on special occasions. The weather has been good during this time, enabling us to adapt to this climate. Even though the highest temperatures are yet to come, it is still very hot and humid. Supposedly, October 15 5
6 marked the beginning of the rainy season. The rain during the night was so heavy that it was difficult to sleep because of the noise on the tin roof. During the day there are also unexpected rainfalls. Nevertheless, whether it rains or not, the humidity is such that the body is constantly wet. During our time, we visited various schools with varying educational standards. It all depends on who runs the school. Public schools are in a deplorable state. Unfortunately the buildings appear more like chicken sheds, it is hard to make any comparisons. As it turns out, the government allocates large sums of money for education but due to corruption the money often does not reach the schools. We visited another school where a religious sister is the principal, and even during our brief conversation with the children we could notice the difference. The children spoke English well; there were better facilities and the teachers worked hard. We also had the opportunity to visit a school run by a religious congregation of Sisters on a day when a local inspection by the Ministry of Education was taking place. The inspectors assessed the school as being above standard. This was no surprise since the buildings were solidly built, the classrooms were colorful, and the children as young as four were studying English. The Sisters also run a vocational school nearby, where the older students learn sewing, cooking, hairdressing, computing and electronics. Both of the schools were sponsored financially by agencies in Germany and therefore have been able to thrive. Sisters, I greet you all warmly and thank you for all your prayers, love, and good wishes. May God Himself reward you. Translated by Sr. Helen Tereba S. Aneta Irena Grychnik Sister was born in 1966 in the village of Wielowieś (Poland). In 1985, she entered the Congregation in Żdżary. In 1993, she made her perpetual vows during which she chose the mystery of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Sister graduated from theological studies from the Academy of Catholic Theology in Warsaw and also completed a pedagogic course, obtaining the qualifications to teach religion. Since 1993, Sister has served as a catechist in schools in Warsaw, Żdżary, Oborniki and Kalisz. Schools in Ghana Sr. Aneta Grychnik One of my first observations in Ghana was that families have many children, so one can always see lots of children and young people. As we were driving from Accra to Goaso we passed many schools along the way. Soon I began to wonder: Do we need to build another school? The questioned was answered for me a few days later. One of the important priorities in this country is education. Ghana needs good schools that provide the right conditions for learning, good qualified teachers and lessons taught in English. 6
7 The school levels are: Pre-School Nursery Level, KG 1 & KG 2 (Ages 3-5); Primary (Grades 1-6), Junior High (Grades 7-9), Senior High (Grades 10-12), or Technical School; University Courses. From my limited experience so far, it seems to me that the education system and the level of education leave much to be desired. The main problem is the lack of qualified teachers, textbooks and basic school equipment. Classes are filled with children and youth. All the children wear a uniform to school making them all appear the same. In one class there could be 50 to 80 students. It is difficult for the teachers to teach such large classes. Often one teacher is responsible for several subject areas. Each lesson seems to last from one to two hours. Although each grade level has its own room, sometimes what separates the rooms are several sticks or a thin wall, making teaching difficult due to the noise levels. Teachers and students in one class can be heard in the next room. To maintain order and silence during lessons, which are often monotonous, teachers enforce discipline and strict punishment. Children are the same everywhere - open and lively, with some being more capable and others less. From the children we can learn the joy in everyday life so evident from their ever present smiling faces. The children are in school from 7:00 or 8:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. Before lessons begin the children are scheduled to clean their classroom, the oval and sometimes to carry water from the nearby well. While in Goaso I had the opportunity to see and participate in activities in three different schools. These were in a Diocesan Government-Funded Catholic School; a Private Catholic School and a private Catholic School run by a religious congregation. I also visited two schools in the Sunyani Diocese. From these experiences, I am convinced that good schools are needed. Ghana is a country of great contrasts. You can clearly see the differences between the large city schools, those in the smaller towns and the village schools. I commend the children and young students to God in my prayers. I pray for the teachers that they may prepare their lessons conscientiously so that they are able to effectively transmit knowledge and skills to their students. S. Fides Anna Krawczyk Translated by Sr. Helen Tereba Sister was born in 1975 in Czeladź, Poland. In 1994, she began her postulancy in Czestochowa. She professed her Final Vows in 2002, choosing the mystery of the Immaculate Spouse of the Holy Spirit. She graduated from theological studies from the Pontifical Academy of Theology in Krakow and a two-year school for Religious Formators. Sister worked as an announcer for the Diocesan radio station of Czestochowa and served as a catechist. In the years , she served as the junior director in the Province. My First Reflections in Ghana Sr. Fides Krawczyk Today is exactly three weeks since our arrival in Ghana. Many people have asked about my first impressions. Three weeks is both a short period of time and a long time. 7
8 It is a short time because we still need much time and humility in order to get to know the people, the country, culture and language. But it is also enough time to notice the huge differences in our surroundings in comparison to all that was once familiar and "ours". Three weeks is enough time to experience our first joyous moments, surprises, enchantments and disenchantments. What I would like to share with you is just a very small part of my experience, but an important one. I would like to relate how I have experienced liturgy, in particular, the celebration of the Eucharist. We attended our first Mass on the African continent the day after our arrival in Accra, the capital city of Ghana. The Mass was celebrated by Father Fred Timp, SVD. There was a small group of lay people in the congregation, two or three SVD brothers, and five of us. In all, there would have been about twelve people. The Mass of course was sung. All people in Ghana sing beautifully, loudly and with all their heart. My first surprise was that we sat for most of the Mass, including the consecration. I thought, this is their way of participating in the Mass. Why would our way be better? While I am in Ghana I want to join them in their way of attending Mass. While I m here I want to follow their way of participating in the Eucharist. But my surprise was even greater at communion time. After the celebrant consumed the Blessed Eucharist he sat down and the people approached the altar and took the consecrated bread and wine themselves from the paten and chalice which were on the altar. I did the same and for the first time in my life took my God in my hands!!!! We attended our first Sunday Mass in St Anthony s Cathedral in Goaso. However, the word cathedral does not match the magnificent Church buildings which are familiar to us. The Goaso Cathedral is simply the main Church of the Diocese. The Mass was celebrated in Twi which is the local language. There was a brief comment in English at the beginning of Mass and a small part of the homily was also said in English. We were invited to sit in special seats in the very first row, and everyone looked at us rather curiously similar to the way we looked at them. The Mass was a normal Sunday Liturgy, lasting the usual two and a half hours. However, one did not notice the length of time. There were quite a number of servers assisting at the altar. Both the choir and the altar servers wore special robes. I already mentioned that the people in Ghana sing loudly and with all their heart. The musicians which accompanied the singing were well prepared and played their instruments with passion. However, if one would think that everything looked like a performance, they would be mistaken. The choir only led the singing and the entire congregation participated joyfully. I might add that one could recognize joy and simplicity coming through their voices and movements. Everyone was beautifully dressed, as appropriate for this festive occasion. Even though it was very hot, no one appeared in any skimpy outfits. 8
9 At the end of the Mass, Msgr. Anthony Bohem Kyeremeh officially greeted us and explained why we are here and what is our mission. He invited us to the sanctuary and after welcoming us invited us to respond to his greeting in Twi. After our response the congregation applauded us enthusiastically. At the end of the welcome, Monsignor Tony said jokingly, As you can see, dear Sisters, here in Ghana people sing, dance, smile at everyone, speak in Twi and eat Fufu. If you can learn to do this you can stay, otherwise we will send you back to Poland. While his comment was made in jest, I think he was right. While I am here I must come to love the people, accept their culture and their reality and if not, it would be better to return to Poland. Update Translated by Sr. Helen Tereba The past weeks have brought some important changes in our mission in Ghana. On November 12, the Sisters received the keys to the house in Yamfo. Because this was the birthday of Mother Foundress, they decided also to connect their move with her as well. And so, on November 21, S. Angelina, S. Aneta and S. Fides moved to their new "Nazareth" in Yamfo. On November 25, which is the liturgical feast day of Mother Foundress in Poland, the house was dedicated. Due to some health issues, Sr. Emmanuel Le has left Ghana and has returned to her province in the United States. We thank Sister for all the good she has already done for our mission in Ghana. We wish her speedy return to full strength and health. And if it is God's Will - also a return to Africa, when it will be possible. Formative care for Dorothy has been taken over by S. Justyna Czerwińska. From the Philippines For many months, S. Helen Tereba had been planning her November visit to the Philippines. None of us knew that this trip, scheduled for Nov. 10, would take place only a few weeks after the earthquake, and almost immediately after typhoon Yolanda, both of which affected the same areas of the Philippines. During S. Helen s stay, particularly when she was on the island of Bohol, communication was virtually impossible. After returning to Manila, Sister wrote us a long letter. Below are some excerpts and the photos that were sent. Dear Sisters, Firstly, thank you for all your expressions of concern, your promise of prayerful support and indeed in many cases financial support. I have communicated your messages to the Sisters since they are unable to receive messages. The various types of media have kept you well informed of the suffering and devastation here in the Philippines following the recent earthquake and typhoon Yolanda. Having returned from Bohol, I am still searching for the right words to convey the degree of devastation and heartbreak which the natural disasters have left in their wake. Devastation, not only of buildings, and the natural environment but also of the human spirit. Travelling from the Tagbilaran airport from Bohol Tubigon, the enormity of the destruction increased the closer we drove to our home. Some houses were reduced to rubble, while others were sloping to one side. Power lines were hanging loosely along the roadside together with fallen debris, branches, coconuts and large uprooted trees. Nevertheless, it was most reassuring to find our Sisters, Alyn, Mary Guirly, Linda, Ann and Corinne in good spirits. However, as they related the trauma of the past 3 weeks all I could do 9
10 was admire their courage and allow them to express their fears, their sense of relief, and their compassion for those who had lost so much family, homes and livelihoods. Immediately after the earthquake the Sisters moved to the ground floor of the building and lived in the cafeteria area of the school for safety reasons, so that in the event of another tremor they could escape from the building quickly. After a few weeks, the Sisters moved back into the convent area on the 1 st floor, but slept together on the floor in the community room. As the initial shock of the earthquake lessened, each Sister gradually moved into her bedroom for the night. While dealing with their own reality, the Sisters were also sharing the grief and loss experienced by their family members and relatives. Some had lost their homes others had suffered extensive damage and were sheltering in tents beside what used to be their home. The damage to the school building was quite extensive, but mainly the classrooms on the ground floor occupied by children from Kindergarten to Year 6 and the school library which suffered the most damage. The internal wall of the school library Temporary classrooms set up on the playground While power was restored rather quickly after the earthquake, typhoon Yolanda put a stop to that, so that the Sisters have been without power for the past 3 weeks. The prediction and hope is that power will be restored by 24 December..but that is yet to be seen. The lack of power also caused problems with the availability of water since electricity is needed to pump the water to the tanks. Town water was no longer available. Hence all the residents of Bohol have returned to a very basic lifestyle relying on daylight, and finding water wherever they can. Eventually, the Sisters used a generator for 2 hours each day to fill the water tanks, do the ironing, and charge cell phones (after cell towers were repaired). Morning and evening prayers were recited with the assistance of flashlights and candles. We soon became very adept at having bucket baths in the light of a glowing flashlight. 10
11 During the week I spent with the Sisters, we felt at least one tremor daily with varying degrees of severity mainly during the night. Eventually, one came to expect them, and waited with bated breath for how long it would last. Needless to say, the schools on the island were closed until it was safe for the students to return in most cases not to the classrooms, but rather to temporary accommodation in tents set up on the playground. The children returned to our school on Monday 18 November, and appeared very happy to be there. Walking through the streets of Tubigon, was like walking through a war zone. The local public school was extensively damaged.as were most of the houses in the town. Immediately after Yolanda struck, many of the evacuees from the earthquake found shelter in our school gymnasium, and then several days later were moved to a grassed area nearby, where a tent city had been prepared for them. These number about 200 families..who will remain there for quite some time. Needless to say, if there are 200 families there are hundreds of children. During one of my walks through tent city, I spoke to a mother of a tiny baby born just one week earlier.living on a mat on the ground inside a tent. What a tragic start to life!!! And yet, she was glad to be alive!!! The Parish Church in Tubigon The Sisters who have been to Bohol, know that the day begins early - Morning Prayer at 4:45 a.m. and daily Eucharist at 5:30 a.m. However, since school was not in session, the day began with morning Mass. Even though the Sisters had described the extent of the earthquake s damage to the Church, I was totally overwhelmed when I saw it for myself. The small Adoration chapel has been reduced to rubble. What remains of the Church is one wall, some of the roof and the bell tower. The attached photo will say more than I ever could. Nevertheless, daily Mass continues..in front of the Church.near Mary s Grotto.at dawn attended daily by up to 300 parishioners. An eleven year old student from our school told me that when she saw the Church she cried..as too did the Parish Priest as he spoke to a reporter. Back in Greenhills and Antipolo the Sisters have been visiting the people who have been evacuated from the various islands and re-located at an Air Base in Manila. They come home with stories of courage, enormous losses, despair, as well as hope. In some cases one member of a family survived the typhoon. the rest are gone. A father held onto his two children for as long as he could and then he had to let them go. How does one recover from such grief and trauma??? The human face of the tragedies is the most difficult to deal with but makes them real. The following Sisters and their families have been personally affected by the recent tragedies. This will be a very difficult and dark Christmas for them. May I suggest one very practical way of supporting our Sisters and their families would be to send them Christmas greeting by mail I know they would really appreciate it. 11
12 Our Sisters who are living in Bohol: S. Alyn, S. Mary Guirly, S. Linda, S. Ann and S. Corinne. Sisters who have family in Bohol:- Sister Lenilyn; Sister Mary Michael; Sister Mary Therese; Sister Daria; Sister Myline; Sister Lydia and Sister Jonna. Affiliate Minerva Tagbilaran. Sisters whose families have suffered as a result of typhoon Yolanda: Sister Maria Fe family on the island of Bantayan; Sister Rita Iloilo; Sister Veronica- Samar; Novice Jessa Leyte; Affiliates Evalyn Leyte; All their families have been affected. Do continue to support them with your love and your prayers. God bless S. Helen Governance Study Meeting Krakow, October 2013 Sr. Angela Marie Mazzeo From October 16 th to 22 nd, the Governance Study Committee met for the second time. This time gathering in Krakow where we stayed and worked in the Provincialate. Upon our arrival, we received a warm welcome from the Sisters in the house who, together with the members of the Provincial Administration, did everything possible to ensure that we had all that we needed for a productive meeting. We began our time together praying to Mary, the ultimate model of openness to the Holy Spirit. All through the week, we continued to offer our prayers asking to be led by the Spirit and to receive His Wisdom. Over the last few months, the committee had been communicating via conference calls and through numerous s. However, the committee members, Srs. Anita Litwin (Australia), Dominika Konieczna (Warsaw), Hanna Paradowska (USA), Maria Teresa Marcinik (Italy), Paula Szuba (Krakow), Rita Fanning (USA), Angela Marie Mazzeo (GA), had largely been working individually on their assigned tasks. As we came together, each Sister was asked to present her work. But, since all that we are doing is a group effort, the sisters were asked to let go of their work and to be open to whatever changes might be recommended by the group. Their willingness and ability to practice such an openness made it possible for us to benefit from each other s insights. One of our main focuses for the week were those items linked with the 4 th year of renewal which is closely connected with this stage of the Governance Study. Much time was spent on the monthly reflections. We concentrated on how best to lead the Sisters through a reflection on 12
13 obedience and authority knowing that the fruit of the governance study is dependent on the prayer and deep reflection of each Sister. We worked through how the materials should be distributed, how feedback could be gathered from the Sisters and what was necessary to make the process as clear as possible. Of course, this also involved translating all the documents into both English and Polish. This sometimes led to a comical scene of 3 or 4 Sisters huddled around the computer to get it just right. Fortunately, we have a number of bilingual speakers in the group. Additionally, we were assisted by Sr. Maria Goretti (Krakow Province) who served as translator for the meeting. Her presence was very valuable in that it allowed all the committee members to fully participate instead of splitting their attention between trying to translate and trying to share their own thoughts with the group. On Sunday, in the middle of our week together, the Sisters had a break from their work. The group spent some time in the Old Town part of Krakow and were invited for lunch to the convent on Warszawska Street, a place with very special ties to our Mother Foundress and the beginnings of our Congregation. This day of rest helped us to return to our work with renewed energy and clearer minds. The latter part of our meeting was spent planning our next steps and determining how to accomplish the rest of our tasks. Finally, after a week of very intense work, we finished the tasks set out on the agenda and a few others as well. Since it was October 22, the Feast Day for Bl. John Paul II, we took the opportunity to go to the Blessed John Paul II Shrine, and also to the Divine Mercy Shrine which are very close to the Krakow Provincialate. There we could offer our prayers of thanksgiving for the Spirit s guidance in our work, and ask our Merciful Lord to bring fruit for the good of the whole Congregation from the work that had been completed, and the work that is still to be done. 13
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