One day at work, one of my colleagues casually asked me what I was doing over the weekend. I told her that all our sisters in Australia were coming together for our annual meeting, or Provincial Gathering. Her next question was: what does that mean?
Our Provincial Gathering is a highlight of the year for me. Not only is it the time when our sisters come together to discuss issues facing our province, but it is also an opportunity for us simply to be together, to share joy, laughter, and fun! This year, our gathering looked a bit different due to COVID-19 restrictions and limitations. Our meetings were shorter, and we also faced the new challenge and opportunity of online connection with our sisters in Perth joining us via Zoom. Sr Helen Tereba, who is in Rome preparing to return to Australia, also joined part of our meeting online.
Reflecting on the days that have just passed, my mind goes to the Call of our 2019 General Chapter, held in Rome. The theme developed from this important meeting of our congregation was: Listen! Be Grateful! Love! Thinking about our own smaller gathering here in Australia, the Chapter Call was very visible for us during our days of being together.
Each day we were called to LISTEN. Fr Michael Hansen SJ, invited us to reflect on and share our thoughts regarding the Holy Spirit working and moving within our communities. A highlight from Fr Michael’s input was the opportunity to reflect on and share with one another how the Holy Spirit encourages joy within ourselves and in our communities. Our provincial leader, Sr Margaret Kozub, and her council encouraged us and gave us important information and updates, and several sisters ministering in different areas shared their experiences. We had the opportunities to discuss issues with one another and to hear one another’s opinions. I felt a lot of hope participating in these open discussions and in listening to others.
A beautiful moment to BE GRATEFUL was witnessing two of our sisters, Sr Julia Deptula and Sr Jean Wojcik, celebrate their 50th and 60th anniversaries of religious life. We marked these milestones with beautiful Masses celebrated in their intentions, as well as a joyful meal together. As a sister just beginning her religious life, living fifty or sixty years in community seems a long way away. I felt such emotion, gratitude and pride hearing Sr Julia and Sr Jean renew their vows and share their own feelings of gratitude and grace. Sr Jean shared with joy how happy she has been in community, and Sr Julia spoke beautifully about how she feels God’s love and call in her life. More to come in a special jubilee article!
We also had the opportunity to farewell and bless our Sr Maureen Joseph Stempko, who will begin a new journey of ministry with our sisters in England, which is part of the Good Shepherd Province. We gave thanks for the many years in which she has lived and served in Australia, and for her presence among us.
Our time together is always a time of sharing LOVE. Our days were full of love – whether it was through smiles and greetings, through the efforts of sisters presenting information and materials for us, preparing our liturgies and times of prayer, or providing delicious food. Our times together as a province always fill my heart with love – love for the different gifts of the sisters, and love in simply being with them: my sisters and my family.
We look forward in hope to the future of our Holy Spirit Province. May we continue to Listen! Be Grateful! Love!
By Sr Sophie Boffa csfn