Papua New Guinea… land of the unexpected
During March, I travelled with Institute Leader, Eveline Crotty RSM to Wewak where we held a gathering, or assembly as it is called in Papua New Guinea, with our sisters living and ministering there. We were joined by Bev Whitton RSM, North Community Leader.
For the last eight months sisters have been part of a reflection process, personal and communal, focussing on their dreams for community and ministry during the next three years.
The reflections were based on our Constitutions and ‘A Guide for Our Way of Being in Communion’ and was facilitated by Marlene Hixon FMM who used a variety of methods, including psycho drama, to work with the group.
The sisters thoroughly enjoyed the sessions and how gently Marlene handled the process.
The time together was rich with sharing, attentive listening, dreams. Sisters were clear that they want communities based on a Mercy culture and the Gospel.
They set and shared practical ways for their communities to continue to develop and reflect on the quality of their communities and challenging behaviour that is not in keeping with our call to Mercy.
Sisters spoke with vulnerability and passion about their dreams for community.
Our ‘Code of Conduct’, which has been translated in Tok Pisin, was readily received, shared and discussed. Individuals acknowledged areas they needed to work on while another sister said she would be placing the booklet in her prayer space, a gentle reminder of the importance of reflection on personal actions.
Geographical community areas are taking responsibility to further the initial work on health and wellbeing, retirement and living conditions as we look to future needs.
Ministry possibilities were opened as sisters named areas such as climate change and degradation of the earth, Mercy formation of laity (includes Mercy Friends, the Papua New Guinea equivalent of Mercy Associates), youth ministry, focus on family within urban, semi urban and rural settings, and early childhood development as ministries they wish to explore further. Initial practical actions were identified and these will continue to be refined by the sisters as they work together to develop a plan of action.
The body of Christ, the body of the Institute became a powerful image as sisters placed themselves on the part of the body they felt represented them at this time.
The final piece was a reading from the Constitutions one sister felt summed up our time together:
The Institute sends us forth on mission.
We can contribute to the building up of the body of Christ,
through whatever works of ministerial service
we are moved to give.
Together with our leaders,
we listen to the Spirit speaking through perceived needs, through the charism of the Institute,
and through the gifts and calling of the individual sister. 4.06
Gaye Lennon RSM