On behalf of the Institute Leadership Team, a very warm, hearty welcome to everyone. We have journeyed from far and near –from Brazil, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Italy, France. A very special welcome to the members of the Bon Pastor community and from …. Marchiennes who will join us later today.
We have come as pilgrims to the holy place of our origins, thirsting to drink pure water from the well of our Sources. We have been preparing for this pilgrimage and this experience for over a year, having had several zoom meetings that whetted our thirst and deepened our unity as a group, meetings in which we reflected and shared on topics of special interest to you at this stage of your experience and formation as RSHM: charism and spirituality; community living; vocation and vocation promotion. During our time here we will take up those themes again. The focus will be on deepening our reflection on what nourishes us and gives life, remembering the overall theme: “The Tree becomes what it receives from its roots”. During these weeks we desire to water our roots.
We will visit the places of our origins, walking in the footsteps of Fr. Gailhac and our first Sisters here in Beziers, and our first Sisters in Porto. The emphasis will be on seeing, hearing, touching these places, reflecting on our origins and early history, the gift of our charism and mission today, and discerning where God is calling us now and in the coming years.
Bringing our temporary professed Sisters to Béziers to drink from the wells of our Sources follows the long tradition from the beginning, of sending our young Sisters to the Mother House to be formed in the Spirit of our Institute. We are confident that you, this group, will be greatly enriched, that the experience will deepen in you our spirit and charism and your commitment to the mission of our Institute in today’s world. We are sure too that you will enjoy this time together, that bonds will be strengthened and deepened.
During the past year we often reminded one another of the importance of prayer for and with one another. As we begin our meeting, we want to remind one another of this again and to let you know that many Sisters around the Institute have assured us that they are praying with and for us during these weeks. As a group we will reflect, share, pray and celebrate together each day. It is important that we also remember to make time and space for personal prayer each day – time and space to listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit speaking to our hearts, in the events of each day, in one another and in the Word. So let us ask for the gift of open hearts and minds during these weeks. Let us be attentive to one another and to all that is happening and let us entrust ourselves and our hopes and desires for this meeting to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Sr. Margaret Fielding, RSHM
Béziers, 28 Dec. 2022