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Joint Intensification Program: Linking Hearts Beyond Borders

Submitted by: regina
On: 03/03/2010


(The 10 temporary professed Good Shepherd Sisters who are in the Philippines for a joint intensification program before final vows are now on the third week of the program.  The group is composed of Sr. Loreen Granada, Sr. Leah Ann Espina, Sr. Diana Madulara, Sr. Angelita Clemen (Philippines);  Sr. Yacobo Lim, Sr. Hyoju Park, Sr. Theresa Kim, Sr. Adriana Kim, Sr. Clara An, (Northeast Asia, South Korea) and Sr. Laurine Rennick (South Africa).  Below is the reflection written  by Sr. Laurine Rennick.)

Linking Hearts Beyond Borders

We thank you for your prayers as we are already in the third week of our journey together.  We continue to share our faith experiences, weaving the strands of transformation within ourselves.  We are prepared to partake in the pilgrimage with Jesus the Good Shepherd. -a pilgrimage from the inside out.

We will look reflectively on the topics so far:

Article1 & CGS Essential elements
(Facilitated by Sr. Celeste Engutan CGS)

Now that our Contemplative Sisters and Apostolic Sisters share the one constitution we reflected on the process and we felt inspired by the working of the Holy Spirit.  We are grateful to God for the gift of the Contemplative Sisters in our Congregation, bringing their own richness to the Congregation and to the people they serve.  In our sharing we discovered that there is a hunger for contemplation in our own lives and in fact the whole world.  Everybody is rushing somewhere and it feels like there is not enough hours in the day to do our work.  We are called to be first women of prayer and by our prayer we will be able to live out the fruits in our apostolate.  God alone can bring us to a conversion of heart and we can find him most profoundly when we experience his love for us in contemplation.  We have time to spend prayerful conversations with our Shepherd God knowing that we are his very own. We also had the privilege to read and reflect on the document prepared by our contemplative sisters; Towards Transformation.  Our focus should be on the essential elements of our religious life that all of us, whether contemplative and apostolic has to embrace in order to realize our commitment with much energy and enthusiasm.  We also discovered in our open sharing that even if the form of religious life is changing, the essentials remain the same. We congratulate our contemplative sisters on the preparation of this powerful document, which can be used for our communities in prayerful sharing.  We give our support to our contemplative sisters through our prayers, collaboration and friendship.  We hope that in future we will have joint intensification programmes with our junior contemplative sisters, which will give richness to our apostolic lifestyle.

Theology of Religious Life  (Facilitated by Sr. Lourdes Fabia RGS)

Story telling is an age old  tradition of many cultures. It carries with it deep meaning and lessons for the future.  According to a legend, Angels and Archangels asked Jesus about his earthly sojourn.  They wanted to know about his 12 disciples.  Jesus replied, “They were rather ordinary, a tax collector, several fisherman”.  The angels were very worried that a man like Jesus would have people like that in his company.  One other angel remarked; “but Jesus you must have another group in reserve somewhere in the event in case this one fails”.  “I have no other group Jesus answered, this is the only group I have”.   We too can say as young Good Shepherdesses that we are caught in the mystery.  We may be who we are with all that we have, yet Jesus replies again, “I have no other group, this is the only group I have”.

When we reflected on extracts from the documents, “Starting afresh from Christ,” and “Passion for Christ and Passion for Humanity” we understand that our consecrated life has its roots in the Trinity.  It’s a gift of God, the Father to the Church, by the promptings of the Holy Spirit to be consecrated to Christ with an undivided heart.  In our small groups we could share on our own experiences with God.  It was indeed rich and even having had much challenges, failures we are grateful to God for our call to the consecrated life.  It is the small things in life, which makes one feel the gratitude of bigger events. In our stay here, we are thankful for the “adobo,” “piaya,”  melon juice, etc.  We are well fed and taken care of.   I am certain if Jesus had his own fishery company he would probably have run a loss, and his manager Peter would have scolded him, but Jesus would not let them go hungry.  Thank you Sr. Clare and the kitchen staff for the fish that we have for our meals.  This  reminds us of Jesus with his disciples, “I will be with you until the end of time” (Matt 28:20).  Sometimes we will be in the depth of a well or beside the dusty road, but He will be there. We will meet him there.  Our compassion is beyond the dark deep empty well and the dirty, dusty roads of Samaria.  We are called to break ourselves open to others be it on the streets, in the forest, in the dusty villages, dangerous brothels, etc.  We are one with Jesus the Good Shepherd, our hands, our feet, our hearts are the very Jesus we take with us whenever we meet the lost and forgotten.

Good Shepherd Roots and Spirituality  (Facilitated by Sr.  Mary James Wilson RGS)

Looking at the beautiful trees in the Philippines Island one can sense being surrounded by everlasting youthfulness.  The tree in the life history of St. Mary Euphrasia was a very important symbol as it reflected our interconnectedness.  We recalled our own foundations and we felt much gratitude to our heritage as young Good Shepherd Sisters participating to spread the spirit of our Mother Foundress wherever we are.

We had the opportunity to reflect and share on our (Superior-Generals) Congregational Leaders.  We are inspired by their commitment as prayerful women, fidelity to their call and zeal for God’s saving work.  They had their own temperaments, and the older sisters could recall some funny moments and expressions of some of our Superior Generals. Thank God for them and their continuing the vision of St. Mary Euphrasia which  is much needed in our world today. 

The painful and much suffered life of Maria Droste never deterred her from continuing her Yes to God.  She loved her vocation.  We too have experienced deep pain and suffering, and at times it can be unbearable, described by one sister as  “the cactus experience.”   Our pain and suffering is needed for it transforms us to become better persons.  And like blessed Maria we can say; “Glorious as is our vocation, it is a difficult one.  It is a work that belongs altogether to our Lord. We should pray and make sacrifices but we must never be discouraged.  Looking reflectively at Maria Agustina Riva (Aguchita) of Peru and the 4 Cassandra Martyrs of Philippines we were touched by their commitment to the call, lived out to the end.  They risked their lives even to the point of death.  This is truly the Good Shepherd way of life - to lay down one’s life for others.  This is our vocation, our call.  To be One with our Shepherd God every step of the way. 

Community Life  (Facilitated by Sr. Joan Salamanca RGS)

Sr. Joan greeted us and in a calm and posed manner said, “I have no hand outs, for community life is really hands on.” In fact it made us realize that we always collect papers and put it under the bed or in a drawer somewhere, unused, collecting dust.  Does it sound familiar? Community Life, we are reminded, is not only identified by the Ministry, but by living authentically the essentials of our Consecrated life.  Consecrated life will be meaningful if we remember to be laundry women, washing the dishes or filling the half-empty water bottle. We are a faith community, we remember our own faith stories and we share them with each other.  In fact it is self-evangelization, for we give power to the present.  This power, (not dominance), gives us character.   It gives value to our names. For reflection:  Can you look at you own name?  How is it connected to the Trinity?

During our recreation we watched the movie, Invictus - it describes the situation in South Africa when Nelson Mandela was made president of the country and how the game of rugby brought change in people attitudes: The film begins with scenes of destruction and anger against the apartheid regime.  The turning point of he movie was when power was replaced with compassion and forgiveness. Do we hear the cry of the poor, the powerful, the weak, and the great.  Can we point fingers when life treats us unfairly? God let the sun shine on the just and the unjust, the good and the bad.  The choices we make ask us to make sacrifices. 


Country Presentation (Held at the Rosary Hall, Good Shepherd Community)

During our country presentation
we looked back at our own heritage and how we all have played a part in the building up of our countries in big and small ways.  We felt proud of our roots, who we were and the beauty of culture, language as Koreans, South African and Filipinos.  The very fact that we are different makes us unique and we recognize that we can celebrate our different cultures.  We recognize too that we all are a little crazy at times and it is good when we can laugh at our own mistakes or awkwardness.  When we develop a good sense of humour, most of our aches and stiffness will disappear like effervescent in a glass of water. 


Networking and Internationality  (Facilitated by Sr. Regina Kuizon RGS)

We began our session with a beautiful song entitled Web of Life.  It really speaks about growing together as one.  Our interconnectedness, our Good Shepherdness is something unique and special. When we viewed the quilts made by the different Provinces and Units, we could sense that our interconnectedness goes far beyond borders and oceans.  The threads used in order to make the articles came alive as each one tells it’s own unique stories.  The threads reflected hope, a value that we treasure for the future.   As young religious we participate in this great event in weaving our interconnectedness and being here in the Philippines 2010. Our weaving gives meaning too, whether we sweep the floor, or wash the dishes or clean the bathrooms. We reflected and shared our expectations on the 2009 Threads prepared by the CLT.  We felt proud to be connected to our heritage and that we remain faithful to the spirit of St. Mary Euphrasia as we strengthen bonds of solidarity through networking and keeping the lines of communication open.


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