We Marist Missionary Sisters of the Region of the Americas held our First Regional Chapter from October 4th- 10th 2015 at the Espousal Retreat Center in Waltham, Massachusetts. It’s a “first” because it is the first chapter we’ve held since the Provinces of North America and America Latina were combined to form one Region in January 2014. This Region includes Colombia, Peru, Jamaica and the USA. There were sisters from each of these countries who took part in the meeting in addition to members of the Regional Administration.
A Regional Chapter is a very special event, held only once every 7 years, in preparation for a General Chapter of the whole congregation. Our next General Chapter will be held in Rome in March 2016.
The Purpose of a Chapter
Every congregation faces the danger over the years of drifting away from its original purpose or of failing to adapt to changes in our world. A Chapter is a means of renewing the congregation. It calls together both the present leadership and elected delegates to assess how we are fulfilling the purpose for which we were founded and to set orientations for the next seven years. At the Regional Chapter we elect delegates to the General Chapter. Members of the General Chapter then elect the Congregational Leader and her Council to serve for a term of seven years.
Every Sister in the congregation is asked to participate in the preparation for these Chapters, both in prayer and in helping to discern how God is calling us at this moment of our history. Local communities, groups of Sisters and individuals all have a right to send their concerns and proposals to the Regional and General Chapter for consideration.
What did the Sisters do at this Chapter?
Members of this Regional chapter prayed together daily and shared their experiences, the needs of the people they serve, and their hopes for the future of our mission in today’s world. They studied proposals sent in from Sisters throughout the Region and made recommendations for our General Chapter and for the General and Regional administrations.
On the last day, they elected 5 delegates to go to the General Chapter:
Sr. Michelle De Silva – from Trinidad, serving in Colombia
Sr. Mary Jane Kenney – from Massachusetts, serving in California
Sr. Esther N’Sanda- from the Democratic Republic of Congo, serving in Jamaica
Sr. Helen Muller- from Tonga, serving in the administration in USA
Sr Palepa Ioane – from Samoa, serving as vocation director in USA
Sr. Claire Rheaume,our Regional Leader, and Sr. Shirley Foust, our General Financial Administrator, will also go to the General Chapter by right.
At the end all the Sisters spoke of experiencing a great sense of unity – a sign of the presence of the Spirit, who alone can lead us into the future, following Christ in Mary’s way.