The current crisis of human migration in which millions of people are displaced touches us and invites us, as individuals and as a Congregation, to take a stand in favor of welcoming migrants and refugees.
It was in this context that the Quebec SNJM Justice and Peace Committee prepared a process leading to the adoption or not of a corporate stand in favor of migrants or refugees. A corporate stand is the response of the entire Congregation to a situation that affects thousands of people throughout the world, and is based on prayer, research and discussions.
So, on February 4 the meeting with Mr. Jacques Morin, resource person, marked the first step of this long process. Educational materials for the entire Congregation were distributed to promote personal reflection and discussion in community groups.
During the month of March, informative meetings in the four large houses enabled the Sisters and Associates, who so wished, to share, pray and express their intention whether or not to support the text for the corporate stand regarding immigrants and refugees.
The English-speaking group chose to undertake this process on a day that had already been set aside to celebrate the feast of Saint Patrick. Four meetings took place at Maison Jésus-Marie, at Résidence Sainte-Émélie, at the Congregational House and at Résidence Marie-Rose-Durocher, respectively.
The process for the meetings made it possible for the participants to recall an experience where they had felt like a stranger and another where they had welcomed a stranger. The discussions, either in small groups or two by two, were inspirational.
References to the informative documents sent out in February described situations that had been experienced in the SNJM provinces or sector. The text of Jesus' encounter with the Samaritan woman demonstrated inspirational biblical values. A time for silence and prayer preceded the vote.
A commentary by one of the participants succinctly summarized the atmosphere and intensity of the meetings:
“A high quality meeting enabled me to deepen my reflection on the situation of the people in migration; to become more aware of the needs and rights of those affected; to acknowledge the commitment already undertaken in the province (sponsored families).”
“I am convinced that together, by taking a corporate stand, we can be motivated and increase our impact tenfold.”
“I remember with admiration hearing about Mother Marie-Rose welcoming young Irish immigrant women during the years around 1845 ..."
The results of the Sisters’ votes and the Associates’ symbolic votes will be forwarded to the members of the Congregational Leadership Team between now and May 10th. The latter will then make known the results of all the votes from the Provinces and the Mission Sectors either confirming or not confirming the adoption of taking this corporate stand.
May this experience make us ever more committed to be witnesses of the Gospel message through the recognition of all people as children of God, and together to be always ready to take meaningful actions in support of the refugee or immigrant.