The Plenary Assembly of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG), which took place in May 2019 in Rome, was a time of grace, a true Pentecost of Religious Life. We were invited to become sowers of prophetic hope, wherever we are. But how can each one of us go about sowing the seeds of hope?
Let us look at three realities from the American continent that might inspire us.
When hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, it was not only disastrous for the inhabitants but it also destroyed their magnificent coral reef. Volunteer divers undertook the repair of this wonderful reef, with the help of small buckets, restoring one coral at a time. How ridiculous and futile this may seem when faced with damage of such magnitude! Yet, these men of good will were restoring the dignity of creation, one coral at a time.
Waves of thousands of adults and children arrived at the Mexico – United States border seeking hospitality. Sisters and many volunteers, especially from Texas, were mobilized. But how to welcome so many migrants without being overwhelmed? Local authorities asked a sister who was involved in welcoming them, “What is going on here?” She answered, “I am restoring human dignity.” Through simple hospitality, this religious was restoring human dignity, one person at a time.
In Colombia, the cartels, the military and paramilitary left cities and families scourged by their bloody confrontations. A painful process of reconciliation is underway. In Bogota, in an organization working for peace – Alas Nuevas -, women started raising butterflies, in a reintegration workshop. But how can breeding butterflies make a difference in such a traumatized country? And again, gently, simply, they are restoring peace, one butterfly at a time.
To take care of humanity, one person at a time, humbly and passionately, is a distinctive characteristic of religious life. This is how it witnesses to compassion, one day at a time, one gesture at a time. This is actually specific to our Congregation whose motto is, “Revive faith and restore morals”, living the call to reignite the flame of hope, restore creation, restore peace, restore human dignity. One coral at a time, one butterfly at a time, one person at a time.
May the 2019 General Chapter encourage us in this wonderful vocation of being sowers of prophetic hope!
Sr. Teresa Maya, “A vision for the future of religious life”, Plenary assembly of the UISG, Rome May 6, 2019