Father Barré’s feast day may take on a special meaning this year, when the Chapter has invited us to be even more attentive to the Holy Spirit, which wants to lead us along “new paths”.
350 years ago, in 1669, that is what our first sisters wanted and signed. It would be good to re-read that text (F.S.). In 1662, Father Barré called on those young women as volunteers to take care of women and children as part of an intensive pastoral mission in Sotteville. Filled with enthusiasm, they continued to Rouen, and, four years later, they agreed “whole-heartedly” to live that mission “in unity with one another, with no concern for what they will become one day”.
That YES, delivered with enthusiasm, certainly came up against many personal and relational difficulties. Is that not also our own experience? To persevere along those new roads, after three years, Father Barré invited them to become increasingly dependent on “God’s wise, loving, and all-powerful Providence” in a complete and conclusive manner. In this 350th anniversary year, may we also receive that grace, so that we can be “more authentic witnesses to the love of God for each person and for all Creation … and to have the courage and the daring to take new steps along the way" (Acts of the Chapter).
Our General Council wishes whole-heartedly to place itself at the service of our Institute’s beautiful mission. We met for the first time in Paris at the beginning of October. That meeting enabled us to create bonds of trust and friendship between us, which helps us to go beyond our fears and to enter in the spirit of confidence and abandonment of which the commitment of our first Sisters speaks to us.
The accident suffered by Sister Brigitte meant that we spent the period of the meeting conscious of our weakness and of our limitations, and in acceptance of what is real, certain that God can act well beyond our poor means, and that it is He Alone who can make fruitful that which we offer Him in the service of others. All the messages that Sister Brigitte has received have been very comforting, and she thanks all the Sisters for their compassion, their prayer, and their encouragement. She will doubtless need several more weeks to recover her full physical capabilities.
Crawley remains the administrative centre of our Institute as well as the seat of the Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) and the General Bursar. We are very grateful to Sister Alice KilBride, who continues in her position as Bursar in the service of the entire Institute. However, for now, our house will not be the usual residence of Sister Brigitte or of a counsellor. Modern means of communication do not require continuous physical proximity. Nonetheless, reflection should be continued in that area, in line with our experience and that of the sisters who have preceded us.
We have started to draw up our agenda, in particular to support the decisions of the six countries for a renewal of the leadership team (Provinces, Vice-Provinces, and Districts). We also have received calls to boost a presence or to set up a new foundation. “The harvest truly is plenteous; let us pray to the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.”
United in a single trust in God, Who will never forsake us, be what may the trials that we endure, we once again and whole-heartedly express to you our affection and our prayer.
Best wishes for a happy feast of Fr Barré. Brigitte, Felicia, Jane and Marina.