The Institute Holds Its Second Chapter
The Institute’s second Chapter was inclusive, forward-looking, adventurous and contemplative.
The Chapter, which was held in Sydney from August 13 to 26, was the culmination of more than a year’s consultations and planning. More than seventy people attended the gathering, including sixty elected delegates, the five members of the Institute Leadership Team and ten support staff (working in the Secretariat, communications, information technology, administration and hospitality).
Caroline Ryan rsm, Chair of the Chapter Preparation Committee, said the Chapter reflected the hopes throughout the Institute that many Sisters had expressed during the consultations for a chapter that was inclusive, forward-looking, adventurous and contemplative.
“The idea of a contemplative Chapter for the Institute was a new one and we tried to anticipate something of that in our preparation and our communication, but it was only once the chapter commenced that we created a rhythm of deep prayer and reflection”, Caroline said.
The inspiring Ritual of Commencement (August 13) and Opening Eucharist (August 16) which were prepared by Helen Baguley rsm and Carmel Dwan rsm, were broadcast on this website and were watched by Sisters and people of Mercy in Australia, Papua New Guinea and around the world.
At the Ritual of Commencement, Berneice Loch (Institute Leader) asked the question “will the institute be one of those that are called an answer the call to go into the future. The answer is caught up in the question we ask ourselves at this Chapter – ‘Who are we becoming by the grace of God? Yumi kamap wanem kain lain long grasia bilong God?”.
At the Opening Eucharist, the Bishop of Parramatta, Vincent Long OFM Conv, said religious play a creative, imaginative, and innovative function for the Church. They seek to renew the Church’s vigour by the radical commitment to the Gospel.
“Religious are critics in the best sense of the word. Like the prophets of old, we are to critique the status quo not by our words but by our radical witness.
“I am convinced that, if the Church has a bright future, it is due to the example of many female religious who are like those early female disciples… I ask you to continue to be for the Church the icon of the inclusive, compassionate and all embracing Christ”, he said.
The Chapter program included time for personal contemplation, as well as communal reflection and discussion. There was also a series of formal reports, and expert input, including a session with canonist, Mary Wright IBVM on future governance models.
The Chapter was facilitated by Kerry Brettell and Anne Derwin rsj. Kerry, who co-facilitated the first Institute Chapter, said it was a very different feel in this Chapter than the first one, due to when this Chapter was happening in the life of the Institute.
“Last time in the process of the Chapter itself the Institute commenced. They had to work quite quickly to understand the directions for the new Institute. This chapter really has taken an opportunity to review, reflect and refine thinking and to move in the direction of where we want to be in the future. It is a very different feel in this Chapter – no less exciting but quite different”, she said.
The election of the new Institute Leader (Eveline Crotty rsm) and four Councillors (Caroline Ryan rsm, Marie Duffy rsm, Gaye Lennon rsm and Elizabeth Moloney rsm) occurred on Wednesday August 23 and Thursday August 24 respectively. A poignant ceremony was held to the current leadership team on the last night of the Chapter in which Sisters said both ‘Thank you’ as well as ‘Sorry’ to the ILT on behalf of the Sisters in the Institute. The ‘Thank you’ was for their incredible achievements and marvellous job they have done over the past six years. The ‘Sorry’ was for the times when the Sisters had not been their best selves.
One of the key aspects of the Chapter was the development of a Chapter Statement, which will provide inspiration for the mission of the Institute for the next six years. The statement will be formally released later in the year.
As part of creating anew, in the second week of the Chapter, delegates were invited to help create a mandala, using coloured rice. The beautiful creation was on the last day returned to the Earth, with the current ILT fulfilling this role on behalf of the delegates. The rice was then poured into a pot and presented to the new ILT.
Throughout the Chapter, Sisters and people of Mercy participated through the praying of the Chapter Prayer and also experienced some of the day’s proceedings through the daily videos and newsletters. For the first time, Sisters had the option of receiving their information through a ‘Chapter App’ which by all accounts was a popular addition to Chapter communication. As part of the Institute’s commitment to sustainability, this Chapter was also one that was largely paperless, with email and PowerPoint where possible replacing printed handouts.
Delegates were buoyed by the ongoing messages of support and prayers. In a number of locations Sisters organised group prayer times for the Chapter, such as the one in Ballarat (pictured below). These all combined to create at Chapter a real sense of ‘palpable grace’ throughout the Institute.
To watch a highlight video of the Chapter please click on the play button below.
To watch the Closing Ritual please click on the play button below:
Messages to: Institute Communications