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My visit to the USA (August 6th-18th, 2019)
A recent article on the Site evoked the nice surprise that the US Sisters had for me, on the East Coast, on August 10th, by celebrating, with the DHS Spiritual Family, my 50 years of religious life. The visit I have just paid to them was short, however intense. It has allowed me to meet the Sisters of the Provincial House of Putnam who are now dispersed into several Retirement Homes or Nursing Homes in diverse places in the area. All unanimously express their huge gratitude for the way in which Sr Gertrude Lanouette and her team have listened to each of them and continue to do so. Also they all say how happy they are in their new place of life and of mission, with and among lay people and women religious from other Congregations.
This visit also gave me the opportunity to see, at Putnam, the new administrative building of the Province. The Sisters could not find a better place. This new administrative centre, functional and spacious, on one floor, allows the Sisters and the DHS Spiritual Family to have a place for DHS meetings. There, everybody feels at home.
From August 13th to 16th, my visit was prolonged by another very rich experience. On Sr Gertrude Lanouette's invitation, with her and her Councillors: Srs Jacqueline Robillard and Marian St Marie, I participated in the Annual LCWR Assembly. This year, the Assembly took place in a superb hotel, at Scottsdale, in a suburb of Phoenix, very far from Putnam, on the US West Coast, in the burning desert of Arizona. We were more than 700 women religious participants. With the theme: "Imagining Leadership in a Global Community", we were stimulated to imagine a form of government in our Congregations well engaged with the world, "our Common Home", as Pope Francis says in " Laudato Si ". Sr Pat Murray, former Executive Secretary of the UISG, Rome, and Sr Sharlet Wagner, LCWR President, each gave a talk on the theme, about which we exchanged at tables of 8 -10 Sisters. In a panel, three speakers, one black American Sister, one Hispanic and one white American underlined, from their daily struggles, how "racism, immigration and climate changes" are interacting. Finally, a pedagogical practice helped us to be aware of assumptions we have in our way of leadership, to let go of certain ones and to welcome other new ones. As in every Assembly, elections took place: a new President and members of the LCWR national Board, and Orientations were chosen, during which a LCWR Outstanding Leadership Award was given to Sr Norma Pimentel, MJ, for her commitment to migrants and refugees. During the whole Assembly, we had a prayerful, rather sober, liturgy with beautiful songs and music which delighted me.
I liked the beauty of our place, the warm and relaxed climate of the Assembly, the enthusiasm and the passion of many participants, the ease with which you could talk with anybody and deeply share on the, different but also so similar, situations we live in our Congregations… Also the sense of blessing that the American sisters have touched me.
Some words of the President, Sr Sharlet Wagner, found a deep echo in me and I would like to share them. I find them important as we prepare our Chapters and the General Chapter. I write them in my own words, as I have understood them (we had no written text):
1. Today, in the world and in our different societies, we live deep, often violent, disruptions. We, religious women, can certainly not prevent nor even stop the storm. But, in the middle of this storm, we can stand up together and say something of the Gospel, and this, in numerous different ways.
2. Our world and the Gospel call us to grow in interculturality. Any group which talks about its members, (who are different by the generations, cultures, races, religions…) in terms of 'them" and "us" will never be intercultural. We absolutely have to learn talking of "we". That is true in the society, the Church, our Congregation, in our community…
Thank you to Sr Gertrude and her Councillors for having enabled me to live, in these few days, such strong and enriching experiences. Trust! For sure, the Spirit is at work…
Sr Anne-Marie Foucher, DHS Superior General. Posted on August 20, 2019.