Echoes from the Plenary Council - 16 November 2019
Today was a more relaxed day with a half day of recollection in the morning and a free afternoon. The recollection was given by a little sister of St Francis, Sister Pauline. Her topic was very much in line with our year of jubilee celebrations and of course the plenary council with its aim of evaluating the last three years and looking to the future.
Speaking with a clear and audible voice she reminded us first and foremost about the whole idea of jubilee as found in the book of Leviticus chapter 25. She reminded us that we are in fact celebrating 150 years of meaningful existence and the prophetic mission bestowed on us by the Cardinal. Yes, a time of counting our blessings one by one, a time of looking back with gratitude. She went on to share her own gratitude for all that the missionaries of Africa/MSOLA had achieved in Uganda. The trumpet has indeed been sounded throughout the land and the Church here is well aware of the heritage bequeathed by our ancestors. Of course she mentioned Father Lourdel and Br Amans, the White Sisters and the great work accomplished by all these brave men and women for building up the Church and the growth of religious life in this pearl of Africa. Where would we be without these great missionaries- she asked. Addressing each one of us she stated that the question is not what I have received from the Society but what has been my contribution? Are my gifts and aptitudes in tune with the charism of our founder? Yes, she continued we are called to do but above all we are called to be. What is my way of being? It could well be a question of time – time to be with myself, to be present to my brothers, time to be present to the Society. Again we need to look back at our own missionary life, the places where we have been and ministered. Take a look at our ancestors and see the impact they had, the traces they left, the people whose lives had been touched, the stamina and energy that were theirs. They planted a seed as tiny as the mustard seed and yet here in Uganda it has become a great tree. What traces have we left? What impact has own missionary life left?
To end she recalled what in fact are the three pillars of our charism; Spirituality, community life and mission. These form the tap root of our life and mission and we need to continually grow ever stronger in these areas. It is about committing ourselves to our charism, to our mission, to be unafraid, to leave our comfort zones, to play our part and do it courageously like our ancestors. Thus she concluded by saying: – ‘you are martyrs, you risk your lives, determined to die to self so that others may have life to the full – concentrate on the good that you have achieved and the love of God that has shown throughout your life.’