After the XX General Chapter in 2016, the European Major Superiors of our Congregation gathered in Rome for their first Continental meeting. It was held in the Generalate from 15-20, November 2017, with the theme: Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favour with God (Luke 1:30). Materials for our discussions were based on the new document from the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, New Wine in new Wineskins, 2017.
The participants were Sr. Helga Weidemann (Germany) Sr. Miroslawa Wlodarczyk (Poland) Sr. Ludwika Jastrzebska (Poland) Sr. Maria Dörig (Switzerland) Sr. Mary McNulty (England) Sr. Magdalena Pinto (Procura) and members of the General Council.
At the beginning of the meeting, Sr. Izabela Świerad, Superior General extended words of welcome and presented the objectives of this gathering. The idea Continental Meetings for our Major Superiors was to dedicate more time for Formation of the Superiors, and of deepening the bonds of friendship and community, building closer relationships, as well as uniting ourselves in living and service to society and the Church in the spirit of St. Vincent Pallotti.
Sr. Mary McNulty, shared about the Continental meeting for Africa, Asia and Latin – America, as well as the recent events which were held in Tanzania during the month of September. The Provincial Superiors also shared the present situation in their countries in regard to personnel, apostolate and future concerns.
On the 17th, an historical event took place in the life of two foundation Congregations of the Pallottine Sisters. In view of reunification, there was a meeting held between the General Councils and Provincials of our two Congregations at the Provincial House of the Pallottine Sisters in Porta Maggiore, Rome. After a cordial welcome and prayer, the members listened to the testimony written by Sr. Dominika Rose, SAC which was presented by Sr. Helga Weidemann, SAC, the Provincial Superior of the German Province, and Sr. Lilia Capretti, CSAC, who personally presented her testimony during the meeting.
These two presentations revealed the initial efforts of relationship and collaboration between the Sisters of the two Congregations. It is remarkable to notice that the collaboration began between these two Congregations 55 years ago, and it has continued to develop till today. As a sign of thanksgiving for the gift of collaboration, Holy Mass was celebrated by Fr. Jacob Nampudakam, Rector General of Pallottine Fathers and Brothers. In his homily he said: You are at the very beginning of a very important historical process for your Congregations; you have decided to start the journey together, like Moses journeying towards the Promised Land. I wish every blessing of God for your journey together. May our holy Founder, St. Vincent Pallotti, the prophet of communion and collaboration, accompany you always. At the conclusion of the program, the members visited Pia Casa di Carita, the cradle of the Pallottine Family, and had meaningful prayer service and grand agape.
The 18th was another memorable day! Members of the two Congregations set out on a pilgrimage to Osimo and Loretto, where St. Vincent Pallotti stayed about four months in 1840 and wrote many spiritual letters. The following day the participants of our Congregation visited the Cemetery at Campo Verano – Rome, where the Pallottine Sisters and Priests are buried.
The last day of the meeting was very productive as the members deliberated and discussed the topic of reunification and closer collaboration. The openness in sharing created much trust and hope among the Superiors, and gave some positive thoughts towards the future. Sr. Izabela reminded the members that our congregation is in a state of a paradigm shift; hence we must not be afraid rather journey together with faith and bringing new life.
The concluding prayer was taken from the document New Wine in new Wineskins:
Holy Mary, Woman of the new wine, guard the desire in us to go forward in obedience to the newness of the Spirit, recognizing the sign of His presence in the new wine, fruit of harvests and new seasons. (57).