Letter to the Sisters of the CND
April 4, 2020
To all the sisters of the Congregation
We have just finished our General Council meeting - on line. Each morning, thanks to Skye, we have managed to get in touch, listen to each other, and draw things together! We have had the unusual experience of having plenty of time – and of finding that the most important thing doesn’t need that much of it!
What is the most important thing? To realise that we are not alone! If it requires some effort to collate the messages we are receiving from everywhere, we are also becoming aware of the impulse, silent though it is, towards opening up, being together, and being cut down to size, which coronavirus has called forth.
People are doing and saying amazing things, unsolicited acts of generosity beckon from around the world… A solitary man walks onto St Peter’s Square, gives a meditation on a passage of the gospel which echoes the state of the world today, bows to an icon and a crucifix, and blesses humanity with the Risen Body of the One who is always with us.
So, in the midst of our tears and our fears, we can allow ourselves to hear the comforting promise: “I am with you.”
As this Holy Week begins, we will follow our « Master and Lord » even more closely, more so perhaps now that there are none of the beautiful liturgies we have grown used to.… He is waiting for us at the end of our journey. Listen, he is calling us by our name. Let us turn and contemplate him as did Mary Magdalen, and be amazed and renewed. Let us allow him to send us out to find our brothers and sisters.
But what about the Chapter?
When I wrote to you on March 17th, I told you that we would put off all decisions – whether to go ahead or to postpone – until the end of May or, at the latest, the beginning of June.
The international situation has led to countries closing their borders and imposing lockdown. The airlines, especially the European ones, have laid off their staff until the end of September. Other Congregations with a Chapter planned have postponed it for six months, or even a year.
So we have decided not to wait for more favourable circumstances in order to make up our minds. A Chapter is after all a weighty affair requiring both a locale at once welcoming and able to provide suitable facilities, and timing which suits facilitators and support staff… The arrangements are normally made two years in advance and cannot be changed at the last minute.
In view of all these imperatives, we have reserved the following dates and venue:
18th January – 6th February 2021
at the Abbaye de Rhuys
1 place Monseigneur Ropert
56730 Saint Gildas de Rhuys, France
+ 33 2 97 45 23 10
We must give up the idea of meeting in Rome, as France has recently taken the decision to issue visas only if visitors pass the same amount of time in France as they do in another member country of the Schengen Agreement. This would mean that sisters from the Congo and Vietnam would have to be away for twice as long, which is not possible for them at that time of year.
Because of the changed dates, the Assemblies in France and Vietnam (to elect new Vicarial Teams) will have to be postponed until after the Chapter.
Now for the continuation of the Chapter preparations!
We propose that we move on, according to our route map, to the 4th Stage: « The Joy of formation» (15th April – 15th June).
However, in the context of the pandemic, and of the Chapter’s postponement, we need to include in our reflection the experiences of our brothers and sisters; like them, we feel anxiety, anguish, doubt, anger, revolt; like them we are tempted to look for a scapegoat, we refuse to give up control of our projects and plans… We must not ignore our feelings as we continue our journey towards the Chapter.
Here are some questions with which to begin, or continue, our reflection. You can choose them all, or just one or two:
- How does our formation help us to live today?
- What type of formation gives us joy?
- Are our apostolic choices challenged, changed or strengthened in today’s world?
- What kind of formation do we need?
What happens after Stage 4?
We will get together in the near future with Fr Jean-Claude Lavigne to breathe life into our six months’ delay. As soon as we can, we’ll let you know what adaptations need to be made in the light of the health situation. This was not in my mind when I wrote my Christmas Letter, but it’s quite true: “a Chapter is not about planning and strategy!”
Meanwhile, please go often to the reserved space on the website: we are creating «a wall of news» so that all the Vicariates, Delegations and Groups can post their news every week. To this can be added each one’s way of living through this time in her inner self, or a prayer intention, or something to lighten up the day…. Please don’t hesitate to make lots of contributions!
With my sisterly affection,
Sister Cécile MARION cnd-csa
 Pope Francis’ Blessing Urbi et Orbi on Friday 27th March
 These dates will be adjusted to fit the days and times of flights into Paris-CDG so that a coach can be hired to meet all the chapter delegates on arrival and take them to Saint Gildas de Rhuys
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PRAYER FOR THE CHAPTER
Lord, we wish to live this time of preparation for the Chapter
with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
May our discussions of life’s experiences and our educational mission bring forth Joy and Life in abundance.
We ask you this through Jesus, your Son and our Brother.