The 30th October was full of the joy of giving thanks and the sadness of impending departures at the closing of the 2019 General Chapter.
The capitulars began in the Chapel of the FCJ Christian Life Centre. Pictures were taken of the Chapter body, our present and future leadership, and the FCJs in each area.
We then went to the Chapter room where we each signed the formal Record of the Chapter.
The staff had prepared a special pumpkin cake to make our last morning coffee memorable.
At 11am, the liturgy committee led us in a closing prayer, starting with a prayer adapted from the tradition of Canada’s first nations. We prayed for the whole Society and for our leadership, present and future. We prayed with the doors of the Chapter Room open to remind ourselves that we are being sent forth into the wider world to bring a message of hope.
Sr. Claire Sykes, General Superior, addressed the Chapter. She said, These weeks have passed quickly … We moved from retreat into chapter and continued to see that ‘Earth’s crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God…’ Each one has her personal story with regard to these weeks and there is also our story as a Chapter body. We have been graced… Throughout our Chapter, we have been blessed and graced by the prayers of our sisters. Their greetings were beautiful and with photos made an almost tangible presence.
And what a gift to have our sisters from the local group gently going to and fro. It is many many years since we had a general chapter in one of our houses… seeing these women who have borne the heat of the day, women whose walking, breathing, seeing is not as it was … but who continue to live the magis and to walk the shortest, straightest path to God, without hesitation. A daily visible gift.
Sr Claire spoke movingly of the gratitude the Chapter felt for the expertise and gentle presence of Sr Brenda Dolphin RSM whose guidance was so important as we moved through the Chapter.
We know in faith that ‘Le bon Dieu conduit tout lui-même’. The time is now, and together, sent in hope and joy, we confidently cross the threshold of our third century and into the future. Dear sisters, I now formally declare our 2019 General Chapter closed.
Sr Claire Sykes, General Superior
Our closing ritual ended as we sang together A Fire on the Earth by Michael Herry FMS and Sr Irene interpreted the music in dance.
After much laughter, joy and sharing, we went to Chapel where Peter Bisson SJ celebrated liturgy with us. Sr Clare Hand thanked Peter on behalf of all present for his gentle, inspirational presence throughout the Chapter.
At lunch we were joined by Denise DeNeve director of the FCJ Retreat and Conference Centre and by the local community; it was good to have the opportunity to thank them formally for making us so welcome in this FCJ home.