Friday, February 23, 2007

They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles
and to the communal life,
to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers.
Awe came upon everyone,
and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.
All who believed were together and had all things in common...
Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple area
and to breaking bread in their homes.
They ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart,
praising God and enjoying favor with all people.
Acts of the Apostles 2:42-44, 46-47a

Thank you to all of you who remembered our provincial assembly and chapter in prayer last weekend (Feb. 16-19). I can assure you, I felt the support of many prayers - not only of my Sisters, but of others as well.

I was trying to get this post out before the beginning of Lent. It seems odd to me to post about something other than this Lenten journey during the first week of Lent. But, because I've spent the past few days playing "catch up" after a long weekend (catching up on sleep, reading, and just time to myself), the blog about last weekend had to wait.

So... if you're expecting a post about Lent, I'm afraid you'll have to wait until my next post. *smile*

If you read the quote above from Acts, then you'll begin to understand the events of the past weekend. It describes everything almost perfectly... from my perspective, anyway. In deed, the Sisters of our province (which includes San Antonio and Dayton) were gathered together in one place - meeting, praying, eating meals in joyous "exultation" (that's a little over the top, but not far off), breaking bread in our chapel... And many things were accomplished through our cooperation with God. Amazing, really.

Perhaps I should offer a brief explanation of what an assembly is and what chapter meetings are...

During our assembly, we had the opportunity to discuss important issues for the well-being of our province. These conversations were immersed in a spirit of prayer. Each Sister was responsible for different prayer experiences. And what amazing prayer it was! There is something special about praying with and for our province... all of us together. We've also been blessed with the gift of song and are able to harmonize very well... adding to the spirit of prayer.

We also had informal/casual conversations - a chance to just "hang out" and socialize with one another. Because we're so far apart geographically, we don't have the opportunity to do that as often as I think we would like to.

The assembly lasted from Friday evening until Sunday morning. Then began our chapter meetings...

The chapter meetings are much more formal. They are still immersed in prayer and there is some opportunity for casual conversation, but not as much. While at the assembly, all of us had a "voice" giving input/feedback and each took part equally in the discussions. At the chapter table (literally, a table) were our provincial council (our provincial and her 3 assistants), 4 chapter delegates (2 from San Antonio and 2 from Dayton) and a secretary. The chapter is analogous to a student government (in many ways)... there were reports given and proposals discussed & voted on (using Roberts Rules of Order)... It was very interesting.

The Sisters who were not at the chapter table served as observers. We had chances to offer opinions if someone at the table asked, but basically we observed the "proceedings." However... and this is exciting... during the chapter meetings one of our Sisters, who was also an observer, asked if I wanted to co-author a proposal with her. So, we worked on it during some of the opening chapter meetings. That was exciting for me for a number of reasons... 1)I gained experience writing a proposal for our province, 2)it was a chance to work closely with a Sister with whom I typically don't work, 3)I felt like my opinion mattered - even if I wasn't at the table.

To say that it was a full weekend is an understatement! But what a great weekend! One, just being together - discussing, laughing, praying, singing - what a grace! Secondly, it was a huge learning experience for me - listening to & engaging in conversations about mission, values, and our witness in the U.S. were extremely valuable for me as a person in formation. Thirdly, being an observer to our chapter was so interesting.

I can honestly say that over the weekend I felt like a real part of our province for probably the first time. Sure, I've felt included etc. But being a part of a weekend such as last weekend, is something different. It's difficult to articulate, but there was certainly no place else that I wanted to be than with our Sisters.

In all of the busy-ness of the weekend, we were certainly held in prayer. Our Marianist Brothers, Lay Marianists, some of you who read this blog - all were praying for us and with us this past weekend. And we have been praying for the Spirit's guidance and an openness to God's grace. The Spirit was certainly active ... and it seems to me that we were open and receptive.

I'm not at liberty to tell you of all our decisions etc. We are awaiting approval from our general administration in Rome. When I can, though, I will tell you all about it...

Well, that's all for me for now.
Many blessings to all who read this!
Sr. Nicole