(Middle East-Europa). On 3 February 2021, the Pre-Chapter Assembly of the Middle East Europe Interprovincial Conference was held online.
From 20 Provinces, two Preprovinces, and the FMA General House (RCG), scattered in 28 Countries, 60 Daughters of Mary Help of Christians: Provincials, delegates to General Chapter XXIV (GCXXIV), and invited guests, including six lay women, were convened on a telematics platform on 3 February 2021, from the Presidency of the Middle East Europe Interprovincial Conference (CIME) to discuss and dialogue on “provocations, signs of the spirit, lines of action”, the titles of the short document prepared as a further contribution to the study on the theme of GCXXIV: “Do whatever He tells you” Being Generative Communities in the Heart of Contemporaneity.
The meeting was chaired by Sr. Petra Egeling, Provincial of Austria/Germany (AUG) and President of CIME, attended by the Visiting Councilor Sr. Paola Battagliola, CIME Referent, and moderated by the Secretary of the Conference, Sr. Anna Razionale.
The link for the meeting on a zoom platform set the pace for the work. To give the opening click, they listened to the Gospel of the Wedding at Cana and the greeting of the Superior General, Mother Yvonne Reungoat, who followed the work, and among other things, said: “This assembly is a sign of life that is growing and is a sign of hope and communion.” Even if online, “It is a meeting that questions about new ways of research, because the pandemic proposes new challenges on a social, political, and educational level.”
The Assembly was also enriched by the presentation, albeit essential, of the Provincial Sr. Ribas María del Rosario García (SPA), on the path taken by the Presidency Council from the constitution of CIME to today.
Immediately afterwards, Sister Petra presented the criterion used for the drafting of the Document: to grasp, from over seventy pages received from the Provinces, what was not present in the Working Document of CGXXIV, because it was drafted before the Covid-19 Pandemic.
“The final synthesis of this work”, Sr. Petra emphasized, “seeks to focus attention on what is most relevant to the unprecedented situation of the pandemic, on the requests it has called forth, and on what urges us to go further. We think that this synthesis can be approved in its entirety, but at the same time, if someone deems it appropriate, they can send significant integrations to enrich it.”
The document-synthesis, prepared by a small Commission formed by Sr. Roberta Tomasi (MOR), Sr. Elide Degiovanni (IPI), Sr. Paloma Bravo (SPA), and coordinated by Sr. Petra, was unanimously approved after being discussed in groups in the virtual ‘rooms’ which the participants entered at the touch of a click. The participants divided by Regions in the five rooms, talked and answered two questions: “Starting from the final synthesis, which request/solicitation do we wish to bring to the Chapter Assembly for an appropriate reflection at the Institute level? What stimulus can we gather from the Signs of the Spirit and from the Guidelines of action for the CIME journey?”
The red thread that gathered the feelings of the five groups can be expressed through three key words: change/formation/communication. The proposals for a unitary journey of CIME focus on the importance of networking; to carry out joint projects; to strengthen European networking especially with members of the Salesian Family; to share formation and spirituality through online resources; and to organize Italian and English language courses. Finally, a request emerged from some groups to the Superior General and her Council or the Chapter Assembly to study and articulate the expression “Mornese outgoing“, already mentioned by Mother Yvonne in one of the Circulars sent to all the Daughters of Mary Help of the five continents.
The initial dynamic, presented by Sr. Mojca Šimenc, Provincial of Slovenia/Croatia (SLC), in order to quickly facilitate acquaintance of the participants, since the name and surname already appeared on the display, asked to identify one’s attitude with a single word at the beginning of the Assembly, writing it in chat. Thus: joy, research together, hope, openness, gratitude, solidarity, curiosity, placed the experience of each one in a common feeling where everyone felt involved and represented by each word.
Ultimately, it is the word that the Superior General, after listening to the coordinators of the five groups, called “convergence”. She said: “Convergence in sharing and clarity and simplicity” with which each one placed herself. “Sensitivity to change”, she stressed, “to be guided, between us and on the net, in seeking and proposing new ways.” She also urged the assembly to “decide on some concrete steps in a concrete experience. It is not enough to glimpse some ways, it is necessary to do it. I support you. Good and bright ideas are a sign of hope.” The Assembly could only feel a word of hope, having glimpsed the dawn of a new tomorrow.