[Thailand] The first Asian Sister Servants’ Encounter (ASSE 1) was held at Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Retreat House in Chachengsao, Thailand. The venue, owned by the Sisters of St. Paul of Chartres, has a chapel which is a replica of our own in the Motherhouse, Paris. It has helped us to find some grounding and was conducive for the Session on March 2 – 11, 2012 with its theme:“Sister Servant… Open to the Transforming Spirit, Wellspring of Prophecy and Hope”.
A total 56 participants from 8 Provinces (Chinese, India-North, India-South, Indonesia, Japan, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam) and 6 members of the Local Preparatory Commissions were in attendance. Sr. Evelyne Franc, Superioress General, Fr. Patrick Griffin, Director General and Sr. Madeline Hara, General Councilor for Asia graced this historic Encounter.
SEE – means to SEE with the eyes, to KNOW with the mind, to UNDERSTAND with the HEART.
We recognized, in our diverse situations and experiences, a common desire to be faithful, a common struggle in our ways of animation and supervision, an at-homeness with our diversity in food, language and culture, a bond rooted in love and attachment to our charism , and a deep love for the Company that ties us together.
JUDGE – means to PONDER in our HEARTS, to CONTEMPLATE and REFLECT in PRAYER, to DISCERN GOD’S WILL.
Sr. Evelyne’s first talk: The Company and Each One of Us – called us to a greater and deeper love for our Vocation and for the Company. In her second talk on the new GUIDE for Sister Servants, Sr. Evelyne stressed the importance of the mission of the Sister Servant and how her formation had been of major concern from the beginning of the Company.
Fr. Patrick used the Biblical image of the washing of the feet: “… we do what we do, not out of fulfillment of the rule or law but out of love. We are bound not by legal requirement but the bonds of care for the other. We place the other first, and thus we open ourselves to their needs and desires rather than our own. We do it with our whole lives, daily for the Lord. We do it for our Sisters in Community as their Servants…”
Sr. Madeline’s deepening sessions provided us with sources from the Documents of the Company and put together the basis upon which our convictions are grounded.
ACT – means to PUT INTO ACTION WHAT HAS BEEN DISCERNED AS GOD’S WILL.
On the PERSONAL LEVEL: What have I realized about myself as SISTER and SERVANT? What gift of HOSPITALITY and SERVICE do I bring back to my Sisters?
On the PROVINCIAL LEVEL: What are the concrete ways in which we can intensify and improve:
1. COMMUNICATION, SUPERVISION and ACCOUNTABILITY:
A. between the Visitatrix and the Sister Servants?
B. between Sister Servants and Sister Companions?
2. ONGOING FORMATION of the Sister Servants?
The first Encounter for the Sister Servants of Asia was both historic and momentous in that it confirmed unconditionally and unreservedly, the essential mission and role of the Sister Servant in the local community, in the Province and in the Company. For both the Sister Servants and the Visitatrices present in the Encounter, it was clear that who we are – our IDENTITY – our ORIGINS determine how we are to be: our decisions, our lifestyle and our service.
“… an attempt at renewal or of adaptation which would not have as starting point the desire to emphasize the spirit of our origin would be doomed to failure.”
Sr. Suzanne Guillemin, 1 January 1965
Prepared by: Sister Ma. Teresa MUEDA, DC (Visitatrix of the Province of the Philippines) with Sister Violeta CECILIO, D.C. ( Secretary for ASSE1 – Province of Thailand)