Rome - 21 July 2004 for SSpS and SVD Mission Secretaries and Mission Animators

In this bulletin:








During the summer in the northern hemisphere, many SVDs and SSpS will be taking time out for an annual retreat. They July issue of the SSpS Information Service newsletter gives a report by Sr. Petra Bigge (GEN) on a creative retreat experience that can help rekindle a sleepy missionary spirit.

In 2004 the work group Religious against Exclusion again offered retreats of "Respectful Seeing and Hearing." The participants live in a shelter for the homeless run by a parish in Berlin-Kreuzberg. The shelter is unoccupied in summer.

During the day they walk attentively through Berlin and try to see where their interests, feelings and longings are aroused. They meditate, pray and listen to the world around them, as well as to their own feelings; they try to become aware of their own prejudices, wounds and fears ... In the evening they return to the hostel. After a common meal which they pre-pare themselves, and after a liturgy, they relate their journeys, their searching, the difficulties they discovered and the "burning bush" moments in their lives… In this they are attentively accompanied and helped to see more clearly where they are being led.

The courses last ten days and are completely in the retreat tradition of St. Ignatius of Loyola. Apart from Berlin, this summer we have also planned more such "Street retreats" for Cologne, Nuremberg and Fribourg, Switzerland.

I was part of an accompanying team with two Jesuits and Dora, a Protestant pastor from Hagen. We accompanied a group of about 10 participants on their very individual paths. During that time I shared a room with Dora and experienced some intensive "burning bush" moments with her, too. One of them was sharing a visit to a service with Dora and Fr. Christian in the Protestant church of St. Thomas. Afterwards Dora, with tears in her eyes, said, "I can still hardly believe that you celebrated the liturgical service with me today..."

On Wednesday morning I set off with Dora to my parish in Torstrasse. An elder of the parish awaited us in the courtyard and invited us for an ecumenical breakfast. We introduced our-selves and mentioned the "Street Retreats". A Protestant lady pastor from the neighboring parish wanted to know more, so we related our own experiences and those of the participants.

On Thursday we attended a Moslem funeral. In the morning I had already prepared my sandwiches for the day. In the sub-way train, a young father, begging with his child, "interrupted" our deep conversation. I offered him my sandwiches. As I opened the bag to give him some, Dora said, "Give him all of them!" I was quite ashamed...

The same evening I saw a man on the street with two crutches trying to stand up. I went over to help him and then noticed that he had a gash on the forehead. He was also drunk. I accompanied him to the homeless shelter where he lived. On the way he suddenly stood still, looked me in the eye and asked, "Madame, why are you doing this?" After a moment of reflection I replied, "I meet God in my fellow human beings."

We continued on our way with-out another word. At the door he said goodbye with gratitude and wanted to kiss my hand. I hesitated, I found it difficult to accept that gesture but then allowed it.

The following day during the rite of washing the feet, I realized that his kissing my hand was as scandalous for me as the washing of the feet was for Peter. I can still feel that God touched me in this broken and wounded man.

[For further information contact Sr. Petra at ]

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Sr. Mary John, the SSpS Mission Secretary has until recently been in Chile to study Spanish. Before returning home to Rome she had the opportunity to participate in the final event of the Year of Grace. She gives the following report.

On Saturday 5th June 2004, the SVD and SSpS provinces of Chile officially closed the year of Grace, having had the privilege of a longer celebration than elsewhere. A very special presence marked this event, giving it an extraordinary touch. Two of our Pink Sisters from Argentina, Sr. Maria Socorro and Sr. Maria Teresita, joined us for the joint recollection. They are currently exploring the possibility of opening a new community in Chile having received some promising signs for a future contemplative presence and membership in the diocese of Valparaiso. It is curious that in a society where vocations to religious missionary life are steadily declining, positive signs are emerging in favour of a contemplative vocation. Does it call us to do some soul-searching? Well, back to the topic.

The joint recollection marking the end of the year of grace was conducted in the SSpS provincial house, in Santiago. There were 13 SVDs and a larger number of SSpS. Elmar Pitterle (CHI) and Sr. Luise Wilmer (CHI) shared their reflections and insights on our founder and first missionary saints respectively. They led us to ponder their lives along the following lines of thought.

Saint Arnold earnestly sought the will of God taking pains to discern it on a daily basis. His faith, humility and patience are truly striking. His capacity to endure hardships and to wait on God are exemplary. Today more than ever, we admire his foresight and vision in launching projects especially in media and communication – little known avenues of evangelization at the time.

St. Joseph Freinademetz is the epitome of what it means to truly appreciate and adapt to cultures and ways different than one’s own. What it must have cost him to leave the beautiful hill country of Oies and to identify himself with a culture so distinct and demanding! If to Fr. Arnold belong the vision and the planning, to Fr. Joseph belong the practice and action.

In the afternoon, the participants were led in a lively group sharing based on the guide questions for personal reflection and sharing. The concluding Eucharist in the evening, presided over by the Provincial Fr. Armand Schnydrig and concelebrated by half a dozen SVDs, brought to conclusion the year of grace in gestures and symbols both creative and inspirational. It was an enriching experience for all of us as members of the three congregations, with their different cultures, ages and levels of experience, to share in simple language and style how God touched our lives during a graced year.

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The SVD communications coordinator, Niels Johansen (CUR), is happy to announce the inauguration of a new SVD web site from the generalate. Eventually this site will serve as a portal for information about and from all of the various SVD provinces and projects around the world. In due time it will also substitute the SVDWorld Intranet site that has been in use for the past two years.

The new website includes both a public area for the wider public and an area reserved for SVD members. To access the private area you can apply for a password from our webmaster - Thi Pham (ROM). Since this project is just getting started, there are still a lot of improvements that are planned. Thi will certainly appreciate any suggestions you might have.

[The site can be accessed at or at ]

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From the 14th to the 18th of April 2004, the SSpS in the Americas had their Second Assembly for Mission Animation. The SVDs could not participate because of their simultaneous Provincial Assembly. There were many highlights of the Assembly, but perhaps the most important was that there is now a website for SSpS Mission Animation in PANAM. The site, in Spanish, is located at

During the Assembly the 45 participants were directed to the SVD Seminary in Asuncion where they were introduced to the Web, by showing them how to access it, contribute to and benefit from it. This website contains all information regarding SSpS mission animation in the Americas. In addition, the site:

• Provides information on the previous assemblies and workshops : E,g., Encuentro Panamericano de Mision Animacion (EPAM) 1,2,3,4

• Provides resources for prayer, recollection, retreat

• Gives updates on our apostolate and communities in the Americas

• Makes available bulletins/ magazines

• Supplies material for conferences, seminars, and courses on Missiology

Thanks to the USA province which has financed the project’s inception and continuing development. Sr. Mary John comments: "It is my wish and prayer that our Spanish –speaking sisters make the optimal use of this fund of knowledge for greater missionary effectiveness."

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From July 16-18 ,2004 the SSpS Euro Coordinators for Mission Animation met in Stockerau, Austria, to work out strategies for a better functioning of Mission Animation and JPIC suited to European situation and in keeping with our Chapter Priorities. Two concerns dominated the meeting.

1. How to revive and revitalize the hitherto not-so-alive field of MA/JPIC at the provincial and continental levels.

2. How to integrate JPIC and Mission Animation in our planning and organization so as to strengthen the intrinsic bond between them as exhorted in the 12th General Chapter.

The seven participants made the following proposals:

• To form in each province a unit consisting of JPIC and MA coordinators who will share, interchange, contribute to and benefit from each others’ work and experience in the respective fields.

• At the continental level to have one person to coordinate both MA and JPIC.

• To have a separate MA/JPIC coordinator for Eastern Europe. This is based on the fact that the situation of Western and Eastern Europe is different in many respects, and past experience shows that the requirements of contact, travel and interchange can better be met by two coordinators.

• The two Coordinators (of West and East) and the provincial units will however work in collaboration especially in the area of exchanging information, resources and above all in organizing the MA/JPIC continental joint meetings whose frequency is yet to be decided.

The members felt the need to avoid overly frequent and separate meetings and instead to work together in united fashion so as to pool the resources and experiences of these two areas. The enthusiastic response and creative ways of thinking of the Sisters, irrespective of age and background was really heartening. Although a final decision can be arrived at only in the approaching Euro Assembly, one can hope that the good spirit of this meeting can be translated into concrete action in a more organized way for the SSpS provinces of Europe.

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We all know that the world is a rather dangerous place! The following advice is meant to help us all keep safe.

1. Avoid riding in automobiles because they are responsible for 20% of all fatal accidents.

2. Do not stay home because 17% of all accidents occur in the home.

3. Avoid walking on streets or sidewalks because 14% of all accidents occur to pedestrians.

4. Avoid traveling by air, rail or water because 16% of all accidents involve these forms of transportation.

5. Of the remaining 33%, 32% of all deaths occur in hospitals. Above all else, avoid hospitals.

You will be pleased to learn that only .001% of all deaths occur in worship services in church, and these are usually related to previous physical disorders. Therefore, logic tells us that the safest place for you to be at any given point in time is at church.

Bible study is safe too. The percentage of deaths during Bible study is extremely low.

For safety's sake
it could save your life.

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Items for the SVD/SSpS Mission Animation Bulletin Board can be sent to:

Tom Ascheman SVD

Mary John K. SSpS

SVD Generalate Mission Secretary

SSpS Generalate Mission Secretary