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CGP 2023 - Pune

C eventWednesday, 17 April 2024

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Community pictures CGP 2023

Days 15-24

We can share little of the intense days experienced during the third and fourth weeks of the CGP because they constitute the content of the transmission that will take place in the different Provinces. We can elaborate a little more on the conferences that continue to enlighten our reflections, although they will also be deepened during the passing on of the CGP, so that the content will help you as much or perhaps more than they have enriched us.

We had the opportunity to spend a morning with Sister Lucy. They call her "Mother Teresa of Pune", because, like her, after a shocking experience of contact with women who live the consequences of poverty and injustice, she strongly felt the vocation to commit herself to this reality. After a difficult process, in 1997 she founded the first of what are now 68 Maher Houses, a 100% secular association that helps destitute women regardless of caste, creed or religion.  Her sharing, in the form of a life story, showed us the courage, radicalism and process of a prophetic action in the peripheries of our world, rooted in a deep spiritual experience, because, as she shared with us, only the prayerful reading of the Word of God has sustained her in her tribulations.

The experience of our own Sister Philomena enriched this theme from "the philosophy that orients and the passion that animates" the zeal for the Kingdom of the Religious of the Assumption.  In her case, the prayerful deepening of the theology of liberation that emerged in Latin America, contextualized in the reality of India, moved her to ask to for an experience among the marginalized. The situation of women also prompted her to train herself in the search for the root causes of poverty, and with other Sisters and people from different ecclesial and social organizations, she searched together with the women themselves for ways of transforming reality. This is how different projects and activities were born, which, assumed by our Indian Province, were extended to other places and have been growing and evolving: aid groups, micro-credits, shelters, schools... and over the years the fruits of transformative education can now be reaped. 

During the break on that day, the room beside our assembly hall was transformed into an improvised craft market where many of us were able to buy gifts for our Communities and friends.  A small contribution to Sister Lucy's project.

Fr. Jacob Parappally, Missionary of St. Francis of Sales, and professor of Christology, helped us to deepen our understanding of the theology of Religious Life with a conference entitled: "Paths towards a new RA presence: Metanoia, Synodality and Collaborative Ministries".  Quoting Mother Marie Eugenie "Our gaze is fixed on Jesus Christ and the extension of His Kingdom" he invited us to make Jesus the norm of our life. Just as Jesus lived in reference to the Father, we are called to live in communion with Him and to ask ourselves at every moment "what would Jesus do in this situation".

All these interventions were more profound than what our communiqué can offer, but there will be time to deepen them in our Provinces and Communities thanks to the good work of the Sisters who take notes and those who translate.

On Sunday we were able to celebrate the Eucharist with a nearby Community of a Congregation founded in the Church of the Syro-Malankara rite.  Its origins go back, as in the Syro-Malabar rite, to the origins of Christianity, but unlike the latter, the Syro-Malankara rite is similar to that of the Orthodox Church, among which is the performance of various moments of the celebration of the Eucharist behind a curtain. We admired the repetition of the Trinitarian praise or invocation in many prayers and gestures throughout the celebration.  

On Sunday evening we were able to enjoy a cultural performance.  If you looked at the photo album of CGP2023 on our website, you may have experienced, as we did, our admiration for the presentation of our Sisters, teachers and students from Tilloli College, the Formation Community (novices, postulants and aspirants) and the young women from Vitthalwadi.  We were introduced to the Indian culture through costumes, dances and stories from different parts of India.  We know how much time and dedication it takes to prepare such presentations, and we thank them for their efforts and for giving us the gift of such a fraternal and enriching evening.

On Monday we visited the ISKCON-HINDU TEMPLE of the International Krishna Consciousness Association. We can describe the experience using the same acronym that we were shown in a presentation using the word TEMPLE: we were able to enjoy the Tranquility ("T") of this sacred space which one of the monks showed us in detail.  It was interesting to discover the openness to transcendence in the Education ("E") that they offer to children, young people and adults, because becoming aware of Krishna or of what is the same, the development of the spiritual dimension is necessary and good at all ages. We were pleased to discover their consideration of Meditation ("M") as a process of Purification ("P") of the spirit leading to true Love ("L"), whereby we let go of what hurts or violates love in order to let ourselves be inhabited and enveloped by the heart that nourishes and sustains all reality as well as ourselves.  The spiritual life must also lead to a commitment, based on compassion, towards all.

That same day we shared lunch with the Provincial Community, after which we met the Assumption Together group of Pune.

We ended the day at the (Aga Khan Palace), memorial palace of Mahatma Gandhi, very close to the Provincial House, where his ashes are interred. We were able to retrace the milestones of his life and of the peaceful revolution that led to India's independence. In the album, you can discover stunning newspaper clippings and beautiful statues in original size of this great figure of our universal history.

We are devoting this last week to the discussion over the main themes that have emerged in our work and reflection, and to the drafting of the final document which will also reflect the decisions taken after long moments of personal work, group work and discussions in the assembly. The CGP will soon come to an end and its transmission will begin in our Provinces and Region

Days 10 - 14

The preparation of the immersion experience by the Indian Sisters was excellent, and we are grateful for this great work. We were distributed as follows:

  • Two groups went to the north-east of India:
  • Two groups went to the communities in the state of Maharashtra, in the centre-west of India:
  • Two groups travelled to the State of Kerala, in the south-west of India:

The immersion experience began as we travelled to the Communities to which we were sent. As is customary in India, many of us travelled at night to make the most of the day. We were able to share the hustle and bustle and hours of waiting in bustling airports with so many night travellers. The long and numerous journeys we made by car also gave us the opportunity to enjoy the natural environment surrounding our communities. In some places our Communities are surrounded by lush vegetation, in others by desert areas, some surrounded by high mountains, others near the vast sea. Whether in bustling urban centres or lonely rural areas, our Sisters are incarnated in the reality, sharing with their people their joys and hopes, sorrows and anxieties. In the photos you can admire the beauty of this country rich in contrasts.

On the way we met big and colourful buses and trucks, as well as tiny and decorated tuk-tuk and motorbikes that zigzag bravely between the vehicles. We admired and appreciated the reflections of the drivers who transferred us without incident from one place to another!!!! We also shared the route with small trucks with busy migrants who, among wheelbarrows and other construction materials, were on their way to work after having been lucky enough to be hired in the morning.

On our return to Pune all the groups remarked on the fraternal and delicate welcome from the Sisters in the different Communities, as well as from the Assumption Together groups, collaborators and families visited. As soon as we got out of the car, the fraternal embrace was followed by beautiful rites of welcome which included adorning us with a special scarf and/or a garland of flowers, as well as other gestures and dances. After this moment of welcome, the first place we visited in the house was the chapel. Together we sang the Magnificat expressing our gratitude to the Lord for being able to live this experience in a fraternal and spiritual atmosphere.

We have only words of thanks for the care and attention to every detail in the preparation of the immersion on the part of the Sisters: activities, visits, meals... which allowed us to share life and mission.

The pastoral work of our Communities is intense and is carried out in synodality, sharing the mission with priests, lay people and other Congregations. In this inter-religious reality, where Christians represent 2%, our Sisters incarnate the Gospel in their lives, so that they may be the ones to bear witness to the God who impels them to commit themselves to justice, peace, care for creation and solidarity.

The development of projects of transformative education can be seen in the residences for young students in Pala or Calicut, in the schools of Thelpara, Pandripani or Tilloli, in the nursing school of Piriaponch. Also in the two diocesan schools where they collaborate in Piriaponch and Harnaut.

We were also able to see the prophetic mission of our Sisters in the peripheries in the projects and activities of social promotion that they carry out in the Marie Eugenie Centre (Calicut), in the Jivhala Assumption Social Centre (Rajodi), in the Women's Welfare Centre (Pune), in the Navjeevan Social Centre (Patna), in the Navjeevan Social Centre (Harnaut) and in the Jeevan Jyoti Social Centre (Piriaponch).

All the Communities are involved in their parishes, in catechesis, youth groups, training of catechists, liturgy, pastoral councils, visits and help to families, etc.... However, we highlight the Communities in Kerala that are part of parishes of the Catholic Church of the Syro-Malabar rite, for their participative liturgy, their deep spirituality, and their symbolism rooted in Indian culture and a Christian tradition that goes back to the first centuries of our era.

Vocation promotion is also part of this mission, especially in Cheparamba, Piriaponch, Pandripani and Rajodi. These projects and activities are bearing fruit as the formation Community in Wagholi consists of two novices, three postulants and eight candidates. There are also five juniors who are in different communities.

We are aware that we have summarised a lot of our experience, which you will be able to deepen in the transmission of the CGP.

Days 5-9

After four days of intense listening, reflection at the personal level, in groups and in assembly are driving the discernment on different questions, some of them may be resolved by the CGP, but many will be worked on in the General Chapter of 2024. References to the reports presented by the provincials and Commissions and Services of the congregation are constant, which shows us that synodality is becoming a reality. The diversity of ideas emerging from the reports enriches and nourishes our reflection and search for new forms and structures of synodality that can be realised in our communities and provinces, projects and works.

On Tuesday 7, Father Paul Parathazham, director of the St. John's National Academy of Health Sciences, and professor at the University of Pune, offered us a profound vision of different aspects of our religious life from a reflection arising from a sociological study carried out on the basis of a survey of more than 2000 religious men and women in India. As he said, the data cannot be extrapolated to contexts outside this country, but the questions, challenges, calls... that emerge from it on leadership, community life, formation, transformative educational action, social commitment... are widely echoed in our different contexts. It was very interesting and inspiring. We will have the opportunity to deepen it in our provinces, just to share with you that he appreciates the prophetic witness of our Indian sisters present among the poorest. It is necessary to reformulate in each generation the prophetic aspects of our charisms which impel us to respond to the challenges presented to us in every time and place.

The time of immersion that we hope to share with you next week is now beginning. We will be able to get to know the reality of the province and of Indian society thanks to the witness of the communities and lay people to whom we have been sent in groups of three or four sisters. We are all grateful for the great work of organisation that our sisters in India have put into the preparation of this immersion.

Thank you for your prayers and messages. It is true that we do not comment on the photos that we are publishing, but you can perceive in them the work and festive events that we are experiencing, as well as the celebrations.

Days 2-4

The days are passing and it seems that we have been in India for a long time, although we have only just begun the second week.

The welcome of the Sisters of the Indian Province has been second to none, from the airport to every detail of the liturgy, the preparation of the house where we stayed and the meals. We are very grateful to them. We were able to meet the Sisters of the three Communities of Pune at the celebration of the Eucharist on the first day, presided over by Thomas Dabre, Bishop of this diocese. At this celebration, a group of aspirants, postulants and novices danced in traditional costumes during the entrance procession.

The extension of the university where we are staying and the intense pace of work makes it impossible to visit Pune, the city where we live in the north of this great continent. To immerse ourselves in this beautiful reality, unknown to many, we will have to wait for the immersions. However, we can appreciate the great richness of Indian culture and spirituality thanks to the songs in the various Indian languages and melodies, the celebrations of the Eucharist presided over by priests from different regions and institutions, and the different dishes that we can taste at every lunchtime. Although happy to discover the flavours of India, stomachs have asked to reduce the spiciness.

Many have asked one Sister or another about the symbols that appear in the photos. The first of these, the mandala in the oratory we use as the CGP community we have formed, was made by the young women in formation. It symbolises the harmony of the universe and for us, the harmony we want to continue to build as a Congregation. In the opening liturgy, each Provincial and member of the General Community placed a printed foot with a word that reflected the desire of what we want to experience in this CGP2023.

After this beautiful celebration, we went to the meeting room to listen to the profound, suggestive and motivating opening message of Rekha. This was followed by an echo where it was felt that many of the elements brought in will drive our work forward.

In the afternoon of the first day, the General Council presented its report, that is, what has been experienced since the last CGP in Madrid, and the questions to be asked in view of the General Chapter. On February 2 and 4, each provincial/regional presented in her report the path taken by the province since the CGP 2022 and the implementation of its orientations, a synthesis of all the reflections and what has been lived in the communities. 

The presentations of the Commissions and Congregational Services are now beginning.

These are days of intense listening!

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Day 2

Day 1

The Indian Province of the Religious of the Assumption hosts the General Plenary Council (GPC) which brings together the Provincial Superiors of the 14 Provinces of the Congregation.

"The Plenary General Council aims at strengthening the bonds which unite hearts and minds within the Congregation. In a spirit of discernment it reviews the implementation of the decisions of the General Chapter. It draws the attention of the different provinces to the general good of the Congregation and of its mission, seen in the light of major world problems. Thus it assures the missionary vitality of the Congregation. It is also a place of formation.” Rule of Life of the RA 101

It starts today, February 1st, with a solemn Eucharist presided by the Most Rev. Thomas Dabre, Bishop of Pune. The work will continue until February 28th.

The theme of the meeting is "Pathways to New RA Presence – Metanoia, Synodality and Collaborative Ministries « My gaze is fixed on Jesus Christ and the extension of His Kingdom» MME

The Superior General and her four councillors, fourteen Sister Superiors from the thirteen provinces and one region of the congregation are taking part in the meeting.

Follow here the sessions.