Our FMSJ Chapter began today at Lancashire Martyrs parish hall in Little Hulton as the 21 delegates and one representative of our sisters in temporary vows gathered for the Opening Ceremony.
The Chapter was officially opened by Sister Maureen Murphy who invited the youngest member, Sister Emily, to light the chapter candle. All of the delegates sang the Opening Hymn, “All Are Welcome.” Sister Maureen then invited sisters from different countries where we are present to bring up a flag of that country and a symbol which represented it. Sisters who had died since the previous Chapter were all named and the delegates were invited to light a memorial candle in their honour. FSMJ Associates in the UK who had died were also remembered. Thus, all the sisters in the Congregation, both living and deceased, as well as our Associates were incorporated as part of the 2023 FMSJ Chapter.
What struck us as we experienced this opening ceremony? The song, “Come As You Are”, was played and we were invited to reflect as we listened. This was very moving as we were called to enter the Chapter as we are and be open to the prompting of the Holy Spirit among us. We were also invited to reflect on what we were “coming with” as we began this Chapter together. We discovered that one of the most important aspects will be the ability to listen to one another.
After a tea break, our facilitator, Sister Cath Lloyd, led us through a reflective process of exploring what a Chapter is, what the various roles are and how we either have experienced previous chapters or, if this was our first time, what others had told us about their Chapter experiences. It was a very gentle but helpful process to help us transition from our journeys, far or near, to being together as the Chapter group.
As we are remembering all the Sisters in the Congregation in our prayers, we are also grateful for all of your prayers as we embark on our new vision for the journey.
Srs Joan Kerley and Emily