In the afternoon of October 24, 2009 several Sisters, Associates from our three groups, and two Associate candidates gathered at the Congregational House in Longueuil, for a two-fold purpose: the first meeting in preparation for the 2011 General Chapter; and the annual renewal of commitment of the Associates.
Sister Lorna Cooney SNJM facilitated this initial two-hour meeting. During the opening prayer we sang, “Lead Us On, O Lord” by Rev. Carey Landry. The words are very meaningful for our times: “Lead us on O Lord… lead us where we dare not go… be with us as we face new days.” A period of quiet reflection preceded our sharing in small groups, on the two questions proposed for this meeting: “my experience of personal discernment and my experience of communal discernment.” Energy and enthusiasm permeated the atmosphere.
Following a short break, we gathered in the chapel for the Renewal of Commitment ritual. Our focus was on the bas-relief of the five panels, embedded in the wall, depicting the spiritual experience of the life of Mother Marie-Rose. “Looking from right to left, we find five themes: the early years, the waiting period, the way, the work and finally, a return to the source.”*
This celebration was akin to being on a pilgrimage as three Associates, one carrying a candle while the other two gave a short explanation of each panel, followed by a quote of Mother Marie-Rose’s own words.
Following the presentation of the fourth panel, the Associates were called individually, to take a rose petal, place in on the shelf under the middle panel, read aloud their commitment and then hand it to Sister Rachel Fréchette, who has the mandate for Associate relationship in our Province. Then the two Associate candidates and the Sisters were also invited to come forward to share about their ministries.
The fifth panel was then explained, emphasizing a call for renewal, a return to the source, rooted in faith in the future. Highlighted were the words:
“Our world today still needs Gospel women and men who through their actions witness to the value of each person.”*
This very poignant ritual concluded with intercessory prayers, a closing prayer and the song “My Trust Lies in You”, an English translation, by Sister Lorna Cooney SNJM, of “Je mets ma confiance”, Mother Marie-Rose’s favourite hymn.