TOMORROW – THE MISSION OF THE SOCIETY OF THE SACRED HEART?

TOMORROW –  THE MISSION OF THE SOCIETY OF THE SACRED HEART ?

This will be the event of the year for the wider Sacred Heart Family, of which we are a part, and a momentous occasion in the history of the Society of the Sacred Heart.

From 8 November to 2 December, the delegates of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart from all over the world will meet in a special General Chapter on the future of their mission to try to respond to the double challenge of declining numbers and changes in our world.

Sr Isabelle Lagneau, one of the four General Councillors of Sr Barbara Dawson, the Superior of the Society of the Sacred Heart, kindly agreed to explain the conditions of this event.

“According to our Constitutions (§160), a special chapter is convoked, in exceptional circumstances, by the Superior General with the agreement of the majority of Provincials. It is not, therefore, a Chapter of election of the Superior General.  

This “special” Chapter, which will be officially opened on 10 November, will deal with two very specific questions. They were asked at the 2016 Chapter questions concerning the governance of the Society and the sharing of its resources. We will be looking for an organization better adapted to our diminishing numbers and to this profoundly changing world in order to better respond to God’s call and to our mission.

A chapter of discernment

Prepared for almost 5 years by many groups and commissions and by all the rscjs in the world, their collaborators and many members of the Sacred Heart family, this will be a chapter of discernment. Each province has sent the fruits of its work, which has led to the elaboration of a synthesis document given to the capitulants. Since this is a process of spiritual discernment, they will be as if on retreat, available to listen to the Spirit through their exchanges and their work. No one knows what the conclusions will be. 

Initially planned for February 2021 as a “face-to-face” event, the chapter had to be postponed because of the pandemic. It will finally take place entirely by Zoom, from 8 November to 2 December, and will bring together about 70 capitulants who will meet either in plenary assembly (from noon to 3pm Rome time), or in groups, with alternating days of personal reflection and prayer. It will be facilitated by a Missionary Sister of Our Lady of Africa and a lay person who will be her assistant.

A technical feat

A technical team has been especially busy organizing all the technical aspects to ensure the good quality of communications, confidentiality and the smooth running of the exchanges. 

The capitulants have undergone several training sessions to ensure that they are comfortable using Zoom. It is hoped that each one will find a way to leave her ordinary life and work (many will follow the Chapter from a place separate from their usual community) to find the silence and peace necessary for discernment. 

A liturgy team is responsible for introducing and concluding the work with times of prayer. An online “prayer room” will be open before and after the sessions, so that those capitulants who wish to do so can meet to pray together. There will also be ‘rooms’ for free conversation outside the assemblies.

 For the plenary assemblies, we have developed a protocol for speaking which should allow us to listen to each other and to share in depth.

Openness to all

The chapter can be followed on a dedicated website: from www.rscjinternational.org

At the beginning of November it should be updated daily. And, as the Chapter progresses, interviews and articles should be published for the attention of all.

Three Masses in particular will be broadcast on the international website and on YouTube: November 10 at noon Rome time from the Motherhouse in Rome, November 21 at noon from Joigny and December 2 at 1pm Rome time (from Mexico).

We invite all our friends and members of AMASC to join in and count on their prayers that the fruits of our labors may serve our mission of making known the love of the Heart of Jesus through the service of education.”