UISG Plenary Assembly 2016
On May 9-13, 2016, 854 Women Religious, who are all leaders of female congregations of apostolic life, gathered in Rome for the XX Plenary Assembly of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG). They gathered together from 80 different countries to reflect on the theme “Weaving Global Solidarity for Life... that they may have life and have it to the full (John 10:10).” In her Introduction to the Assembly, Sr. Carmen Sammut, MSOLA, the UISG President said: "Each one of these words is important.
Weaving : We all know what beautiful, complex, patient, creative, skillful work weaving is. The commitment to global solidarity is also a most beautiful and complex enterprise which needs patience, creativity and skill. And like all weaving, it starts with one stitch and goes on, one stitch after another, growing nearly imperceptibly. Let us make this our assembly one step forward towards global solidarity, by weaving relationships among us. We are here more than 8oo women religious from all over the world, from such different contexts and languages. This is for us an occasion to come to know each other, to know how religious life is lived in the various contexts, to know how our love for the One who calls us leads us always deeper into the waters of life, so as to be light and salt for others. It is a grace-filled time when the weaving can be advanced so that when we are far from each other our network can become more efficient. Let us weave dreams that awaken what is deepest and truest in us, dreams that will lead us to action, to participation, to commitment.
We want to weave global solidarity : Solidarity is not a feeling of vague compassion or shallow distress at the misfortunes of so many people, both near and far. On the contrary it is a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good; to the good of all and of each individual, because we are all really responsible for all.~ (Pope John Paul II, On Social Concerns, 1987)
“This word solidarity is too often forgotten or silenced, because it is uncomfortable. It almost seems like a bad word ... solidarity. I would like to make an appeal to those in possession of greater resources, to public authorities and to all people of good will who are working for social justice: never tire of working for a more just world, marked by greater solidarity! No one can remain insensitive to the inequalities that persist in the world! Everybody, according to his or her particular opportunities and responsibilities, should be able to make a personal contribution to putting an end to so many social injustices. The culture of selfishness and individualism that often prevails in our society is not, I repeat, not what builds up and leads to a more habitable world: rather, it is the culture of solidarity that does so; the culture of solidarity means seeing others not as rivals or statistics, but brothers and sisters. And we are all brothers and sisters!” (Pope Francis 7/25/13, Varginha, Brazil)
In his Encyclical Laudato Si, Pope Francis invites us to a solidarity in favor of the future of our planet and of all peoples, a solidarity from the heart, which shows itself in our actions.
Weaving global solidarity for life : “That they may have life and have it to the full”. This is why we have given our lives as followers of Jesus. That God’s Kingdom may be an everyday reality.
In order to weave a beautiful tapestry, the weaver needs to have the pattern in the head and not to be distracted. For us too we need to come with an open mind, an open heart and an open will. As we listen to each other, we need to suspend our judgments, to redirect our attention, let go of the past, of what is familiar, lean into the future that wants to emerge through us, and let it come.
The speakers will give us food for thought. The quality of our conversation in the group work will allow for creative exploration in our contexts. The prayer times, the silence and the discernment process will call us to an inner exploration of what the Spirit is awakening in us. The whole will hopefully bring us to a personal and group commitment as we face the next three years.
On this our jubilee feast we are right to look to the past with gratitude. Let us also live this present moment with passion so that we can move forward with hope.
I wish us a very fruitful assembly. May it bring us abundant life."
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At the CPS Generalate on 8 May 2016 with five Superior Generals from Africa attending the UISG Assembly