South East Asia Provincial Assembly, October 13 – 14, 2018
(A reflection by Sr. Rose Peter)
Our 1st day of the Assembly was an experience of CELEBRATING our being South East Asia (SEA) PROVINCE. The flow of the celebration was signaled by the OPENING LITURGY when we gathered and sat by communities at the Assembly Hall in an atmosphere of prayer, refocusing on our IDENTITY as SEA Province through the entrance of the SEA Logo carried by representatives of the 3 countries: Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. After the roll call of the different communities, Scripture Reading by Sr. Lerma Victoria followed. Romans 12: 4 – 8 reminded us that we are different parts but ONE BODY, calling us to unity in diversity. The song, “Body of Christ” was an appropriate response.
Then the WELCOME message from Sr. Sheryl recalled the theme of the assembly:
“CELEBRATING WHO WE ARE”
We celebrate, she said, by quoting Pope Francis:
Looking to the Past with Gratitude
Living the Present with Passion
Embracing the Future with Hope
Yesterday morning we experienced celebration by Remembering the Past through a video presentation’ “The Evolution of the Province’s Life from the foundation to the Present Day”. After the video, moments of reflection followed and the question was posed: “What feelings are evoked as you view the history and evolution of the Province? The FEELING CHAT by dyads took place. Predominant feelings that surfaced were gratitude, awe at the marvels of God’s action in the Province, and joy of being part of the Province. Then we continued to celebrate as we flowed into reflection of another question: “What were our unexpected blessings as SEA Province?” Sharing by age group took place till lunch time. Some groups continued their sharing over a sumptuous meal – this too was a way of celebrating! Adoration till 1.30pm when the assembly resumed. Midday prayer was said at the on-set of the afternoon session. Sr. Irene Cecile reconnected us back to the last activity of the morning and shifted us to the present moment by asking the different age groups to describe how their sharing was. Descriptive words like: exciting, challenging, joyful, vibrant, dynamic, expansive, indicate aliveness of each group. Sr. Irene continued to address the age groups to come up with an image/symbol of our SEA Province. The group decision on which symbol/image to present to the Plenum and the actual presentation revealed creativity proper to the age group. There was an explosion of energies, bursting of joy, celebrating the uniqueness of each group’s presentation. Then the celebration shifted to a silent mode – 40 minutes of quiet reflection on Romans 12: 1 – 5 and looking at our personal experience of Transformation within the 4 years of the SEA Province. Sharing with a group of persons of one’s choice followed. 2 Transformative experiences chosen by each group were written down and handed over to Sr. Marie Emmanuel. Evening Prayer and a Barrio Fiesta preceded the Night’s Program – described by the 4 emcees as a Time of Remembering and Celebrating. We also took the opportunity to thank Sr. Sheryl and her council. What a celebration it had been!
Gathered in Plenum we listened to the recaps/impressions/insights of the previous day. Then Sr. Marie Emmanuel presented to the body the synthesis of group responses to the question of Transformative Experiences as SEA Province the past 4 years. The experiences raised our consciousness that as SEA Province we are alive, dynamic, and passionate, and are now disposed to the change from being SEA Province to being Asia Pacific Province. The afternoon assembly helped us to enter into the process of “Letting Go” and to embrace the future with Hope.
We had a beautiful ritual of Letting Go with the putting down of the SEA Logo, a Scripture reading from Ecclesiastes 3: 1 – 15, released doves and read a Prayer of Transition. This expanded our hearts to embrace our new identity, our new reality: the Asia Pacific Province!
A special highlight was the send-off of Sr. Irene Cecile as she crosses over from our Province to the Mother House as General Councilor. It was a touching and fraternal moment of prayer and blessing and embracing.
At supper time there was a toast:
NEW LIFE to our ASIA PACIFIC PROVINCE!