The participants for the Council of the Institute have arrived in Lima for the Opening Session of the Council which begins at 3.30pm. For some, the journey here was not without incident - floods, snow, fog or particularly visa problems - have entailed hours of worry.
But now, with the exception of one sister still en route, the Council has gathered. Everyone has been deeply touched by the warmth of the welcome extended to us by the Vice-Province of Peru and their many collaborators - notably teachers from Fe y Alegria schools in Lima. Hopefully you will pick up some of the warmth and welcome in the photos which follow.
The Conference Centre is perfect, providing ideal facilities and a beautiful green oasis in which to meet, share, reflect, pray. It has been decorated with countless posters bearing images of the work of the sisters in Peru and the words of Nicolas Barré to inspire us during the two weeks of the Council.
Fatima IJS, our intrepid chauffeur,must surely hold the record for the number of trips made to Lima airport in a week - and definitely in one day! How anyone has the courage to face Lima traffic is a mystery but it seems to hold no fears for someone who has been in Peru for 39 years!
As you will have read elsewhere on the website, the Infant Jesus Sisters worldwide are celebrating 350 of mission - from the first small schools in Sotteville-les-Rouen in 1662.
Added to this, the IJS in the Vice-Province of Peru celebrate 45 years of mission in Peru. With them and their friends and collaborators, we thank God for their years of service.
Today we said farewell to Elena Lasida, an economist at L'Institut Catholique who works with the French Bishops' Justice and Peace Commission: she has led us through three days of very relevant and inspiring reflection and discussion.
Micheline Trembley, our Facilitator throughout the Council, began to direct our thoughts towards the next General Chapter.
Back Row (standing): Micheline (Facilitator), Hilda (Bolivia), Marie-Agnès (CT), Elena Lasida (Resource Person), Ana (Interpreter), Marie (Institute Leader), Frances (England/Ireland), Alice (General Bursar), Trinidad (Spain), Kitty (England/Ireland), Jacinta (Myanmar), Josette (France), Maria Pia (Italy), Pilar (Interpreter), Celina (Malaysia), Mireia (Spain), Sylvie (Cameroon)
Middle Row (kneeling): Kimiko (Japan), Lucha (Peru), Yasuko (Japan), Béatrice (Cameroon), María Jésus (Nigeria), Jane (Thailand)
Front Row (sitting): Benedicta (Nigeria), Georgina (Interpreter), Numpa (Thailand), Masako (CT), Andrea (Bolivia), Joan (Singapore), Lily (Malaysia), Agnes (Singapore), Colette (France), Adelia (Italy), Carlota (Peru)
CI Work continues
Thursday 16th February 2012
Today much time was spent working in groups - in the morning in large groups thinking about Marie's Opening Reflection and in the afternoon in these six small groups thinking about leadership within the Institute. The weather is being kind to us: temperatures are around 27 - 29ºF so far which has meant that working and sleeping are manageable!
Marie's closing words
"Our journey together here in Peru as a Council of the Institute has come to an end. Our presence in this land of the Incas, a land of colour and contrasts has marked our whole experience during these past two weeks. We have touched another wonderful and sensitive culture, with its distinctive music, dance and tradition. We have had a taste of the life of our Infant Jesus Sisters here in Peru with their many collaborators and friends, all so deeply touched by the spirit and life of our founder Nicolas Barré.
In the opening reflection of this Council of the Institute we heard “Perhaps God is already doing something new in our time! Can we not see it?” It is my hope that we have already begun to see what God is doing in our time. We have made the choice to enter the empty tomb and find that something radically new now seems to be possible. We have had new insights into the challenges and opportunities that are present in our world today through our reflections with Elena. She touched an awareness that was ready to be awakened within us and challenged us to take action. She encouraged us to embrace what is new.
Our reflections at this Council of the Institute are a continuation of our journey since the Collegial Assembly of 2007 where we wanted to widen the space of our tents, walk humbly with others and be women of hope in today’s world. In Tokyo in 2009 we continued the journey as pilgrims and as Infant Jesus Sisters, reflecting on and deepening the meaning of religious life in the world and within the Institute. Here in Lima, we are making a conscious decision to choose life and to find a way of living together that gives priority to relationships and interdependence in our world today. We recognize that everyone has something to give and something to receive. From here we move forward on a journey towards the General Chapter of 2013, with an understanding of mission that means having a common vision and building a shared future together. God is calling each one of us here to recognize and claim the gift of faith-filled leadership that we have received, a leadership that is collaborative and co-responsible, prophetic and courageous. We choose life and allow ourselves to be filled with hope. We have been challenged to take time to develop a common vision as leaders in our own provinces. Let us go forth from this Council of the Institute in Peru and make a difference. In this year of celebration of 350 years of mission, let us trust in the God of love and walk forward together on an untrodden path with courage and confidence. We remember that “No feather borne on the wind moves with such grace and freedom as do they who allow themselves to be carried by God” (N. Barré)." Marie Pitcher Institute Leader
A gift from the Vice Province of Peru
A weekend to remember
On Saturday morning, sisters from all the communities in Peru joined us at the Fe y Allegría Retreat Centre. During the morning and the afternoon, they gave inspiring presentations on the history of the work of the sisters in Peru and of the work which is continuing today ...
Pictured above, the IJ sisters in Peru
Back row: Lucha, Tere, Marie Luisa, Regina, Leonor, Conchita, Yolanda. Front row: Monica, Fatima, Carmen, Carlota, elizabeth, Visi, Wendy, Maria.
After these presentations, Archbishop Barreto S.J., Archbishop of Hauncayo (which includes Huamali where Tere and Visi live and work) joined us. He had just returned the previous day from Brazil where, as Head of the social justice commission of the Latin American Bishops' Council,he had been meeting with bishops, priests, religious and lay people. He shared some of the deliberations of those meetings on numerous social issues including climate change, pollution and contamination caused by mining, etc.
He then celebrated Mass with us and joined us for a delicious celebratory evening meal.