AJSC Newsletter

Newsletter # 9

Steyl – October 2008

SSpS / SVD / SSpSAP


 

"Precious is the Life Given for Mission."

 

Warmest greetings again from the Team of the Arnold Janssen Spirituality Center (AJSC) in Steyl: Emmie Vas,  Franziska Carolina Rehbein SSpS, Peter McHugh and Mike Somers SVD.  

 

We send you our special good wishes during the Centennial Year.  May it continue to help you renew your missionary commitment and be a time of renewed interest in our saints, Arnold of Steyl and Joseph of Shantung, and recently beatified Mother Josepha.

 

Our Newsletter is coming to you a bit later than usual.  So far we have been sending the AJSC Newsletter shortly after our biannual planning session (or Convivencia).  This time it is delayed due to several programs which came immediately before and after our June Convivencia.  But we would still very much like to keep up our contact with you in the provinces.  So here we are, a bit late, but happy to be in touch with you.

 

                                          

OUR E-MAIL ADDRESS:   ajscsteyl@gmail.com

Please use this address for communications to the AJSC.

In this bulletin:

1.  Coming and Going

2.  AJSC Team Activities

3.  SSpS General Chapter

4.  Beatification of Mother Josepha, 29 June 2008

5.  The Arnold-Joseph Centennial Year

6.  Keeping in Touch

7.  Appendix 1 and 2

 

 


 

1.  Coming and Going - Sr. Maria Cristina Avalos

 

In the January number of the AJSC Newsletter we introduced a new member of our AJSC Team, Sr. Maria Cristina Avalos.  Sadly, in this number we have to say Goodbye to her.  After her arrival in Steyl at the end of December 2007 Sr. Maria Cristina went for a German language course in Germany and then began work with the Team.  Sr. Agada had asked her to be a translator at the SSpS General Chapter.  It was in this capacity that the capitulars came to know her more closely.  So it was no great surprise when she was elected to the CLT (Congregational Leadership Team or general council).

 

Her transfer is a big loss for our Team, though a clear gain for the Congregation as a whole.  There is the added advantage that in her new position she can continue to promote spiritual animation throughout the Congregation.  We wish Sr. Maria Cristina God's blessing on her important ministry.

 

One of the first decisions of the new CLT was to appoint Sr. Maria Cristina as the contact person between the CLT and the AJSC Team.  For several years already a member of the SSpS and SVD general councils has acted as liaison between the generalates and our Team.  The new superior general, Sr. Maria Theresia, fulfilled that role under Sr. Agada.  Fr. Gregory Pinto is the SVD contact person.

 

2.  AJSC Team Activities

 

- As part of the ongoing formation for the Team Sr. Mary Illich SSpS and Fr. Rudi Poehl SVD conducted a workshop on Bibliodrama.  It was personally enriching for us just being participants.

- Besides conducting several contemplative retreats, Franziska was busy coordinating the translation of her book on the spiritual vision of our Founder as expressed in the art work in St. Michael's Church, Steyl.  The input she gave during the Mission Week in St. Augustine's, Germany, will be published soon together with the other talks.

- Emmie collaborated with Franziska in giving the contemplative retreat in Spain. She also gave the SSpS region retreat. 

- Peter and Mike participated in the commissions for the revision of the Vademecum, a revision mandated by the SVD Chapter.  The Spanish version is ready.  The English version took longer to finalize since the content is longer and because the chairman, Fr. Ignatius Thottappilly, was hospitalized.  But it is now ready for printing.

- Mike is currently in the Philippines conducting a workshop on human relationships in each of the six convents of the Adoration Sisters over a three month period.

- Peter collaborated with Fr. Tony Pates in conducting the section of the SVD Formators' Course that was held in Steyl in May.  There were 24 formators plus Fr. Thomas Malipurathu, the secretary of formation.  During the Generalate workshop for new provincials Peter was asked to give input on the role of the provincial in spiritual animation.  The provincials showed a lot of interest in the topic.  It was also a good chance to meet them personally and to discuss possible future programs.  An interesting comment from one of the provincials: "In my opinion the AJSC is the most creative thing that has happened in the SVD in the last twenty years."

- Emmie, Franziska and Peter gave a two-week seminar on our spirituality and on the Founding Generation to the SSpS renewal course in Steyl.  The beatification of Mother Josepha occurred just in the middle of it, so the group received plenty of inspiration from the celebrations and mixing with the SSpS pilgrims. As usual the SVD renewal group spent almost three weeks in Steyl too, for which we were responsible.

 

3.  SSpS General Chapter

 

(a)  The 13th General Chapter was held in Steyl 27 April - 1 June.  Three of our Team were involved throughout:  Emmie and Mike for the daily Eucharistic liturgies, and Maria Cristina as translator from English into Spanish.

 

(b)  AJSC Report to the Chapter.

Emmie, as co-director, presented the AJSC Report (2002-2008) to the Chapter.  The Report is attached to this AJSC Newsletter as appendix.

The capitulars then discussed in small groups: "Is the AJSC relevant to the provinces in its present form and way of functioning?"  The feedback in plenum was positive.  The minutes briefly report: "Most of us felt that the AJSC is still relevant.  However the local teams (SATs) could work toward more contact with the Center."  "We appreciate the Center, the Team strengthens the local teams; the materials produced are valuable."  "We find the intensified sense of belonging that results from the AJSC's efforts very helpful.  However we agree that we need a new mode of working for the Team to animate our spirituality more effectively."

 

Time was limited and the discussion could not go very deep.  For us just giving the Team a voice to the Chapter was a clear message from the CLT of the importance of spiritual animation.  Later in our Conviviencia we discussed the significance of the Chapter for the SSpS and the AJSC.  Some points:

-  To continue deepening our spirituality and charism in today's context, taking into account the Chapter's focus, with topics such as: being God-centered women disciples, communion, non-violent communication, life, creation, and witness to the Risen Lord. 

-  Fostering ongoing formation at a personal and communal level.

-  The value of personalized retreats of 7-8 days.

-  The importance of personal and communal transformation and internalization. Help the Sisters to be more person-oriented than work-oriented.  Integrate the human and spiritual.

-  The practice of discernment at the personal and communal level.

 

4.  Beatification of Mother Josepha, 29 June 2008

 

The beatification took place here in Steyl-Tegelen in the Doolhof, a semi-open-air theater.  This theater stands on what was once part of St. Anne's Farm which Arnold Janssen bought to help support the SVD Mission House.  Fr. Arnold planted many trees and they have grown as mature trees to form a very beautiful park.  The beatification and the celebrations in Steyl and Issum, Mother Josepha's birthplace, have been reported elsewhere.  We asked several SSpS and lay associates what it meant for them.  A few of their responses.

 

Sr. Preethi (India)  Knowing of the small beginnings of Mother Josepha's endeavors, it was for me an astounding sight on the day of beatification. There were people from all over, both laity and religious.  All understood the one language of LOVE. When we were seated in the open theatre I recalled with admiration the weaver woman Mother Josepha whose efforts have born abundant fruit. The theatre looked like an elegant multicolored woven pattern of peoples from all the continents. I wondered whether this spectacular sight did not make many people pledge for an interweaving of human relationships in their life style. Such was the experience of this event. The enthusiastic participation of the lay people spells out how much they look for authentic Christian models in life. Does this not leave us with a question for ourselves?

 

Isabel de los Santos (SSpS-A,  Philippines)    Three events were significant. The arrival of delegates in the SSpS Mother House was a coming together of Arnoldus family members from different parts of the world. Happy faces and joyful greetings were everywhere.  Language was no barrier; a smile was the common language - the language of love. Our hearts were ready to proclaim God's unconditional love across races and cultures. Therefore, for me there is no need to fear to go on mission to foreign countries because the Triune God, who dwells in me, is always leading me and providing me with the graces I need to proclaim Him to all people; I felt God's love through the loving care of the SSpS community.  Second, the beautiful and meaningful Vigil liturgy. It depicted joy and gratitude for Bl. Josepha's intercession for the growth of the SSpS mission and the entire Arnoldus Family.  Her dedication in preparing missionaries and caring for them in mission through frequent communication was high-lighted.  Third, the visit to Issum and Goch. It was a renewing experience for me to witness the parish of Issum and nearby parishes celebrating their joy and gratitude, and expressing the inspiration of Bl. Josepha's life. The visit to Goch was a coming home experience, like refueling my lamp for a quiet and lasting light. I feel inspired and ready to spread the Trinitarian spirituality and help it grow especially among the poor in the Philippines. The Holy Spirit will help us regain and uphold the dignity of Filipinos who are deprived and oppressed.

 

Sr. Dinah O. (Ghana)     What became most significant for me was the beauty and richness of our international and multicultural living which was at its best throughout the meaningful liturgy. The joyful participation of all present and the expression of love shared during and after the celebration of the holy Eucharist manifested the unity in diversity of the Church. Yes, we can be proud of the precious heritage entrusted to us by our founding generation. With that language of love all felt at home and welcome. It was really a celebration of life and love and I am much inspired to continue my religious-missionary life with renewed joy and strength. It is a great challenge to live my vocation day by day with passion and become a source of blessing for others.

 

Sr. Miriam (Chile)   Most important was the opportunity to connect myself with my own roots. To reflect and pray about Mother Josepha's life has helped me to appreciate my own life and my religious missionary vocation which, I believe, is also a part of her dream. I discovered and enjoyed the beauty of God's love, a love which has no frontiers and connects us as people from all corners of the world in one family.  I felt the challenge to open our hearts to the new changes within a globalized world, especially to the call to be sensitive to the minorities whose voices are unheard and are dying in the growing process of exclusion. This reality challenges and invites us to a constant conversion; from the peace and kindness of our heart will spring peace for the world.  Mother Josepha had weaved her little dream and it continues to grow through God's grace in each of us, her daughters. Indeed, "our mission is to open all hearts to love."

 

5.  The Arnold-Joseph Centennial Year

 

a)  Bimonthly Reflections. 

The Team continue to publish bimonthly reflections on our two Saints.  Four have been sent out by the generalates:  No. 1.  "The Love of God Shines in Our Hearts in Rainbow Colors"   by Peter McHugh.   No. 2. "Joseph Freinademetz: A Man of Love, Faith and Prayer"  by Peter Irsara.  No. 3: "The Eucharist in the Life of Arnold Janssen" by Sr. Franziska C. Rehbein.  No. 4. "Arnold Janssen and the Parable of the Kingdom" by Leo Kleden.  The others will appear in coming months.  They are also posted in the <Centennial> section in the special generalates' website: www.arnold-joseph-100.net (Note: Website has expired - The Webmaster)  

 

b) Opening Celebration for the Centennial Year

Several provinces have described the opening celebrations. Some have been reported elsewhere.  Most provinces seem to have followed the generalates' recommendation to make it a joint celebration, SSpS and SVD, and SSpSAP if possible, and also with the laity.  In the USA the Centenary Committee published a booklet with Readings for Morning Prayer or for Evening Prayer on the nine days preceding the Opening. In January the SVD Theologate in Pune, India, celebrated its Golden Jubilee with the motto: "Inspired by the Word to Inspire the World."  So the celebration was doubly memorable.  The SVD German Province combined the Centennial Year with a year of more intensive prayer for vocations with the motto: Berufung Leben – eine Mission mit Sinn (Alive in One's Vocation – a Meaningful Mission).

 

Two longer reports:

 

(i)  Centennial Year  2008-2009         Corneliu Berea,  Romania

 

Date

Theme

Day

Liturgical Season

28.01

Opening of the Centennial Year

Monday

3rd Week of Year   

St. Thomas Aquinas

28.02

JF: Our Missionary Vocation

Thursday

3rd Week of Lent

28.03

JF: The Meaning of Suffering in Our Mission Work

Friday

Easter Octave

28.04

JF: Prayer in Our Mission Work

Monday

6th Week of Easter

28.05

JF: Knowledge of Local Culture in Our Mission

       Work

Wednesday

8th Week of Year

28.06

JF: Importance of the Laity in Our Mission Work

Saturday

12th Week of Year    

St. Ireneus

15.07

AJ: Spirituality and the Blessed Trinity

Tuesday

15th Week of Year    

St. Bonaventure

14.08

AJ: Spirituality and the Incarnate Word

Thursday

19th Week of Year   

St. Maximilian Kolbe

15.09

AJ: Devotion to the Holy Spirit

Monday

24th Week of Year    

Sorrowful Mother

15.10

AJ: Formation for Mission

Wednesday

28th Week of Year   

St. Theresa of Avila

15.11

AJ: The SVD Priest in the Mind of the Founder

Saturday

32nd Week of Year   

St. Albert the Great

15.12

AJ: The SVD Brother in the Mind of the Founder

Monday

3rd Week of Advent

15.01

Closing of the Centennial Year

Thursday

St. Arnold Janssen.

 

Each celebration will last about 30 minutes.  The aim is to get to know the lives and spirituality of the Saints.    For further information:  Fr. Rector Corneliu Berea, SVD,  Misionarii Verbiti,  Str. Spiru Haret 17-19,  Roman 611129 Neamt,  Romania

 

(ii)  Slovakia:  Together for the First Time              by  Sr. Laura Vlcakova SSpS 

 

January 29, the Feast of St. Joseph Freinademetz and the opening of the Centennial Year, was a very special day for Slovakia. For the first time all three Congregations celebrated together. This year the Pink Sisters will open a new convent. So Sr. Maria Magdalena, the new superior, and Sr.Maria Faustina from Berlin came to join us in this celebration.

 

The SAT Team with the provincials prepared the program, involving the members of each congregation in the services. Our celebration started with a procession with the Holy Gospel and cutting of the ribbon in our chapel by the three superiors and the singing of the Prologue.  In his reflection Fr. Peter Dusiska encouraged us to continue in ongoing formation, to be open to learn again and again. St. Joseph of Shantung was open to learn his whole life; he never stopped. It was not just language, culture, traditions he learned; it was more: to listen, to understand, to value each person and each situation. He learned the wisdom of the heart and the language of love.

 

Two „blue sisters", one pink sister and two SVDs recited part of Psalm 148 in different languages:  "Let them praise the name of the Lord for he alone is exalted.

                    He exalts the strength of his people.

                    He is the praise of all his saints, of the people to whom he comes close."

 

Sr. Laura performed a short pantomime in the role of Fu Shen Fu. While reading a letter from Joseph in heaven, addressed to the Arnoldus family, she expressed in gestures its message for all.  Then time for quiet Adoration, followed by a common lunch as one big family. In the afternoon we celebrated a Solemn Mass in the SVD parish in Nitra Kalvaria, followed by an agape.  Many lay people and other religious joined us. 

We hope to continue our centennial celebrations together as one Arnoldus family with a common mission,  perhaps with the closing celebration already in the new Pink convent.                                                

6.  Keeping in Touch

We are continuing to put articles in the AJSC Folder which is in the Public Area on the SVD website: http://www.svdcuria.org    Click on  Site Map/Mapa del sitio, then click on  AJSC–CEAJ.  The Sisters can access the same by going to the SSpS website www.worldssps.org   click Other Links then click AJSC

You can read and download the material.

 

If you have material (articles or program modules) that could be useful in the work of spiritual animation, please send it to us and we can post it on the internet, so that others can have access to it.  Send such material and also other news of your province in the field of animation to the following address: ajscsteyl@gmail.com

We look forward to hearing from you.

With best wishes for your work,

Franziska Carolina,   Emmie,   Peter,   Michael.

The AJSC Newsletter is sent out in five language versions: English, German, Spanish, Portuguese and Indonesian.

 

--------------------------------------------------------------

Appendix

 

     2008  Programs  (2nd semester)

 

 

No.

 

     WHEN

 

           WHAT

 

    WHERE

 

      WHO

 

 

 01

24 June

Vortrag

Sankt Augustin

Franziska

02

23 June -5 July

SSpS Renewal: Spirituality

Steyl

Peter / Emmie /  Franziska

03

July- Sept

6 SSpSAP Seminars

Philippines

Mike

04

06-13 July

New SVD Provincials

Nemi

Peter

05

29 July – 4 Aug

SVD/SSpS retreat

Austria

Peter

06

05 -14 Aug

SSpS Renewal: retreat

Steyl

Franziska/ Peter/ Emmie

07

18 Aug – 04 Sept

SVD Renewal

Steyl

Peter / Emmie / Franziska

08

27 Aug -26 Sept

30 day contemplat. retreat

Steyl

Franziska

09

21- -27 Sept

SVD Retreat for Rome

Nemi

Peter

10

06-15 October

Contemplative retreat

Wahlwiller

Franziska

11

6-16 October         

 Retreat/Seminar                                       

Cuba   

Emmie

12

05 Oct – 05 Nov

 Retreats

Flores, Indonesia

 

Peter

13

09-29 November

SVD Renewal/Dei Verbum retreats

Nemi

Mike / Emmie / Ma. Cristina

14

14 – 23 Nov

Contempl. Retreat: SVD- SSpS reflection group

Laupheim

Franziska

15

24 – 27 Nov

Coordinators' Meeting

Munich

Franziska

 

 

 

 

 

16

January 2009

Convivencia

Steyl

Team

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appendix 2: 

ARNOLD JANSSEN SPIRITUALITY CENTER   (AJSC)

Report to the XIII SSpS General Chapter - April 2008

 

I.  Beginnings and Development

 

1. The Official Opening of the AJSC took place on 15 January 1990 in St. Michael's, Steyl, as a venture of the three congregations.  It came from the SVD XIII General Chapter Resolution in 1988 that the Generalate establish at Steyl a center both for research into the spiritual heritage of Arnold Janssen and the Society and for the spiritual animation of the members. The Chapter also invited the cooperation of the SSpS and SSpSAP, and received a   positive response.

 

2.  Present Members

 Co-directors:  Peter McHugh (England) and Emmie Vas (India)

Franziska C. Rehbein (Germany), Maria Cristina Avalos (Argentina), Michael Somers (Ireland)                   

3. Objectives of the AJSC, as determined by the SVD-SSPS Generalates:

(1)  To animate and assist the members in living out our missionary spirituality, in the light of the present cultural and ecclesial context; 

(2)  To encourage and coordinate the efforts of local communities in research on our roots;

(3)  To help lay people live out our missionary spirituality;

(4)  To promote the study of our spiritual heritage.

 

4.  AJSC Vision – Mission Statement

 

OUR VISION:  The Arnoldus Family as a communion of communities in the Church, nourished by God's presence in each person, in the community and in our world, sharing in Jesus' mission in frontier situations today, and witnessing in the power of the Spirit to the Reign of God, especially to its universal inclusiveness and openness to diversity through life-giving relationships in dialogue.

 

OUR MISSION:  To live the values of our Vision and, through prayerful reflection and animation, to be at the service of the Spirit in empowering others to live out their call.

 

SPIRITUAL ANIMATION: Each person, community and Congregation is touched uniquely by a God experience to which they respond in the challenges of everyday life. Spiritual animation is to facilitate a listening to and prayerful contemplation of that God experience, to let it energize us to a greater commitment and creativity in meeting contemporary needs. To do this authentically we also listen with a discerning heart to the reality of our world to hear the Word of the Lord and the groaning of the Spirit within it.  Spiritual Animation is mutual and life-long. We become more aware of living in Christ and being led by His Spirit.

 

5.  Contact with the General Councils:  Two SSpS/SVD general councilors serve as contact persons and attend our planning session each December.  We appreciate both their and the Council members' interest in our work and for their supportive presence. We are at the service of our Congregation; therefore our planning is in consultation with the General administration.

 

II.   Evaluation since the last General Chapter

 

1. Looking IN

 

(a)            Signs of Growth

 

¨   There is a deeper awareness and growing sense of the importance and value of spiritual animation for our congregations. This encourages us to continue giving our best in this service.

¨   The knowledge about the Founding Generation and their spirituality, regularly coming in touch with the significant places in Steyl, and the study of our Chapter documents constantly challenge our lives. For us, it is not only imparting information but also a living experience. The persons of our Founding Generation and especially our two Saints and our Blessed are much closer; and their lives and values invite us to a deeper commitment in our religious and missionary life. We are aware that this means not only knowing and speaking about them, rather constantly rereading their spirituality for our time.

¨   The programs in and out of Steyl, meeting and accompanying sisters, SVD brothers and lay people and the exposure to different cultures and situations awaken in us a deep sense of gratitude for our call to collaborate in this great mission. This exposure not only energizes us spiritually but allows us to come in contact with the reality of the people and our own communities and through it to contextualize our spirituality

      for our mission today. It is a mutually enriching process.

 

¨   The research and writing about our Founding Generation and their spirituality has been a grace-filled and privileged time; and we are happy that we could share this material to the members of our three congregation. By making available the resources of our Founding Generation we hope that the members are encouraged to give time for study, reflection and thus are able to reread it for their actual mission situations and religious living.

¨   Working and living in an international, male/female team is an enriching aspect that helps us to grow in our identity as women and men. It is also a challenging journey together.

 

(b)            Struggles

 

¨     The Team consisted of seven members at the last General Chapter (2002): 3 SVD and 4 SSpS. At the moment there are only two members from that group. New members were assigned to the team, but due to language and health reasons two members had to leave. At the moment we are five in the team; and since the last Chapter we do not have a stable team of six members.

¨     Language is another aspect we all struggle with. In a place like Steyl one needs to know at least two more languages (German and Dutch) for our community living and to meet the people of the surrounding area. Besides, of course, a very good base of English and Spanish for our animation task.

¨     Every human group has its limitations. The composition of the AJSC Team is very international and with male/female presence in equal number. It is an ongoing learning to go beyond the hindrances and limitations, like different personalities, family and cultural background, formation, studies and preparation, experiences and gender prejudices, etc. that could block our collaboration together as members of one family. It is the mission that binds us together.

 

2.  Looking OUT

 

(a) Signs of Growth

 

Spiritual animation is essentially the working of the Spirit in each person and community. 

It is not easy to quantify results, but we can note some signs of growth in our Congregations:

 

¨     The desire to foster deeper awareness of one's identity as a religious missionary, rooted in one's personal vocation and following of Jesus. Reflecting on this in the light of our spiritual heritage strengthens one's personal identity and creates a sense of communal identity. It is encouraging to note an ever growing hunger by the members of our congregations to deepen our spirituality; to know and love more our Founding Generation.

 

 

¨     Spirituality and mission are inseparably linked. Mission flows from a living relationship with the Lord as a disciple. At the same time mission is encountering the Lord present and active through his Spirit in others and especially in frontier situations. There is an awakening interest for our lived spirituality in the members of our congregations. We see this in number of those who want guided and personalized retreat, which is a sign that they are taking responsibility for their own ongoing formation.

¨     A more critical and contextualized approach to our historical beginnings has helped to understand our past better, to appreciate our Founders and the first generation more and to recapture the original inspiration and foundational faith experience. In the last six years our Team has been focusing on a wider sense of spirituality. Not only to give the historical situation but to lead to a reflection that invites the members to reread it for our actual situation of life and mission.

¨     An increasing awareness that the three congregations form one family, rooted in our common missionary spiritual heritage, inspired by our Founding Generation.  As far as we can, we encourage joint programs SVD/SSpS and also in some cases with SSpSAP; these programs have strengthened a brother-sister relationship, and also helped members to a certain extent to go beyond cultural, gender and historical prejudices.

¨     Many lay partners wish to know more about our spirituality and to journey together on the level of  spirituality and mission in accord with the specific vocation of each group. We too feel that more needs to be done to involve lay people in our mission work as well as in spiritual animation.

 

(c)    Struggles

 

¨     Missionary Spiritual Animation

 

a.      There is need for a deeper understanding of leadership as primarily

animation. Since leadership is a ministry there is a corresponding spirituality of leadership. Provincial leaders need to delegate and support this ministry in their provinces.

b.     There is a deep personal desire by many for spiritual depth.  Provinces need to do more, to benefit more from the annual retreat.  We especially encourage personally guided retreats.

c.      On the one hand we see the felt need for deepening of our spirituality, and on the other hand we too find members who are indifferent and apathetic about the whole issue of spiritual animation. We too see in provinces weak and non –operative SATs, at time we come across provincial leaders who lack interest and thus do not support the work of the SATs in their provinces.

d.     Inserted and small communities often do not have a space for quiet and silent time.  Busyness and active life often drains the enthusiasm and the members are burned out too quickly or too early in the religious life. How to help to promote a personal and communal prayer life that would gear towards a contemplative and discerning attitude in everyday life situations?

 

¨     The Spiritual Animation Teams (SATs)

 

a.      For an effective working together and to have contextualized programs we see the importance of having a SAT in each province, who would assist the provincial leaders in the task of animating the province members, both in initial formation and ongoing formation. The leader and the council should plan with the SAT what programs could help the province. To help adequately respond to the needs of the provinces and their situations is an ongoing challenge for the AJSC Core Team, and so the presence of a SAT would be of vital importance. We try to do our programs with the help of the SAT. We too are aware that there are zones or provinces we can never reach due to language barriers

b.     The laity are re-awakening to their own spirituality and unique role in the Church (12th Gen Chapter #36). We not only share our spirituality but also are already working with them in different areas in our provinces. We need to look for ways to integrate lay partners as part of our teams in the work of spiritual animation. 

c.      Specific Area Apostolates: We need to foster closer and mutual collaboration with the coordinators of different areas or apostolates.

 

3. Learnings:

¨     The composition and the challenges faced by the Team in its ministry of spiritual animation, there is a need for ongoing formation programs for the team members.  It should not be a taken-for-granted thing.

¨     Ongoing contextualized reflection and rereading of the spiritual-missionary charism of the founding generation is to be encouraged and taken up in the concrete realities of our provinces/regions. In the present structure of functioning this calls for greater networking and collaboration between the Core Team and the provinces who are in touch with the actual mission situations, for cultivating a lived missionary spirituality, that can nourish our members. For this the formation of SATs with qualified personnel is very important. (see SATs below for more details)

¨     To keep enkindled the enthusiasm and interest found in many of our brothers and sisters, in our spirituality and charism, timely and necessary initiatives should be taken or strengthened by the leadership teams, like spotting and training persons/sisters who are capable and interested.

¨     Happenings in the world, like the growing globalization and networking, should impel us  all the more  towards greater  collaboration among the three congregations and with the laity, in order that our mission become more effective.

¨     To respond to the growing desire for spiritual depth and personalized spirituality; the provinces and regions should do more by encouraging and organizing personally guided retreats, prayer/reflection days, means that can transform our sisters into vibrant women, disciples in mission. 

¨     We need a contemplative and discerning attitude in our way of living and doing mission. The dimension of religious life is often overshadowed by activism. The need of a renewed understanding of religious missionary life today is an issue for initial and ongoing formation.

¨     Need to consider the differences between masculine and feminine spirituality, and how they affect our relationships and way of doing mission. Not only our common points but also our differences as SSpS and SVD can enrich and complement the work of spiritual animation

¨     Finances: More and more provinces are finding it difficult to finance ongoing formation programs in the provinces and this makes it more difficult to invite the AJSC. The 12th General Chapter highlighted integral formation for mission as one of the priorities; provinces need to free persons and invest in their formation for this specific task.

 

III. Future direction of the AJSC:

 

Questionnaire on the Future Direction of the AJSC

 

In January 2004, the AJSC Team, together with the SVD and SSpS leadership teams   sent a Questionnaire to all SVD and SSpS provinces/regions, asking for their feedback on the activities of the AJSC and suggestions for its future direction. 27 SSpS and 34 SVD provinces/regions; 13 individual and 18 group responses. 

A few responses questioned the usefulness of the AJSC.  But the large majority appreciate its work and its contribution to spiritual animation over the years. Given below are the main responses received:

 

Question 1:  In what specific ways can the AJSC Team be of help in spiritual animation?

  1. Closer contact by the AJSC, e.g. through a newsletter, e-mail and internet.
  2. Materials, module making.
  3. Offer programs (retreats, workshops, preparing retreat guides).
  4. Focus specific groups: SATs, formators, formandi, leadership teams, retreat guides.
  5. Building and follow-up of SAT teams; every province should have a team.  The           

      Council needs to prepare people for it.   Have zonal or sub-zonal teams.

  1. Integrating the missionary dimension in our spirituality. Also areas such as justice and peace, women, ecology, holistic spirituality.
  2. Updating and adapting our spirituality to our time and to the local situation.

 

Question 2:  Suggestions for themes and for the dynamics of AJSC programs

                     METHOD and APPROACH

+    the need to contextualize our spirituality;  

+    need to be guided by local needs and the reality of the province or zone;

+    more collaboration with the coordinators (JPIC, etc.);

+    integration of laity in the coordinating team as also in the audience.

 

NEW THEMES:

+    JPIC issues, including the role of women, ecology;

+    help for the older age group;    + the human spiritual dimension; 

+    community living, especially international (intercultural) community living;  

+    spirituality of leadership;         +  spirituality of dialogue;  

+    mission as contemplation;  prayer in active life;     +  formation of Formators.

+    our Trinitarian missionary spirituality;     +  refounding religious life; 

+    formation as holistic;    +  gender relationships;    +  recent General Chapters.

 

Question 3:  Difficulties in Inviting the AJSC

(i)  Finance.  Most provinces find financing a program a real difficulty.

(ii) Language. The AJSC has facilitated programs in English, Spanish, Portuguese,       German, French, Italian and Bahasa Indonesia.  But language is a problem for those countries where members do not generally use any of these languages. 

 

     (iii) Other difficulties:   (mentioned less often)

·       Other opportunities available in a particular country for ongoing

      formation; for some, such programs are more attractive than our own   

      spirituality. How to make AJSC programs attractive to the members?

·       Prejudices and lack of credibility in the members of the SAT.

 

IV.    AJSC Response to the Suggestions in the Questionnaire

 

Contact with the SATs.

AJSC Newsletter.  Re-appeared in October 2004.  Sent out biannually in electronic format in English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and Indonesian. Contact ajscsteyl@gmail.com

 

Materials

(i)        Materials prepared for the Canonization and the Year of Grace; Beatification of Mother Josepha and now the Centennial Year of the two Saints were sent to the provinces and also made available electronically in various languages.

 

(ii)       An AJSC Folder on both the Generalate websites for articles and other materials in several languages relating to our history or spirituality as lived today. These materials can be read and downloaded for use in the provinces.

 

(iii)      Since the last Chapter Sr. Franziska has produced four books in German; three have been translated into English, Spanish and other languages. At the moment a book on the Upper Church in St. Michael's (Steyl) and its symbolism is being translated.

 

(iv)     One of the tasks of the AJSC Core Team every year is to collaborate with tertiate programs of the both SVD and SSpS in Steyl and Nemi.     This is for about three months, and involves minimum of two to three Team members.

 

V.        Hopes and Expectations for the Future

 

Core Team in Steyl

In the AJSC report to the 12th General Chapter (2002) , besides seeing the need for a Core Team in Steyl, the members also spelled out possible alternative structures for the future functioning of the AJSC Core Team.

 

For us, the responses to the Questionnaire indicate the value of having a Core Team at Steyl. Yet, we too feel it is important to seek out new possibilities for the future functioning of the AJSC Core Team at Steyl for better animation of the provinces. In our semestral convivencias (meetings) together with the General administration we have been discussing and studying the matter. In the year 2006 we concretely suggested that the Generalates name two members (1 SSpS and 1 SVD) to the AJSC Team ad experimentum, assigned as full-time members but residing and working on a zonal or continental level. Like the members at Steyl, they would remain directly under the Generalate and not the province. They would be free to work in spiritual animation in their language area and not be absorbed by the province or by other commitments on a province level. Such members would be in direct contact with the Core Team, coordinating programs and participating in at least one Convivencia each year in Steyl. Eventually the number of resident Team members in Steyl would be reduced.

 

This suggestion, met with certain practical difficulties when presented to the joint SVD-SSpS general council. They see the importance of putting emphasis on revitalizing the SATs. One practical proposal by them was to invite two SAT members (one SVD and one SSpS) from a particular zone, to participate in the AJSC Convivencia in Steyl. The first two who participated last year are from Asia and the experience has been evaluated as positive.

 

We understand that this was not intended to close the door to the discussion on searching for more relevant and effective ways of functioning. We believe when the time is ripe, a clearer vision will emerge. AJSC completes its 18th year in 2008. Is the AJSC relevant to the provinces/regions in its present form and way of functioning? The urgency of promoting spiritual animation should urge the General Chapter to initiate a search for a new modus operandi, so that our service can be more effective.

 

We appreciate Sr. Agada and Council for their support; and the Provincial and Regional leaders for their interest in what is our common task of spiritual animation.