We, Chetana & Pratima, CJs from India, Bernadette IBVM from India, Rosaline IBVM from Kenya, Selvi IVM from Australia, would like to take this opportunity to share with you a little bit of our journey in 2020. As you may know, we came to Rome for our Formators course at UISG – the Union of International Superiors General.
Our Formators programme started on the 29th of January with energy, excitement and enthusiasm, and we completed the course on 27th June with felt confidence and joy. We were 44 participants, from 26 different countries and 33 different Congregations. As you can imagine, due to Covid-19 the time has been both extraordinary and memorable, shared together through Zoom for three months in total lockdown.
We found that the Formators programme was such a blessing because it was enriching, nourishing and strengthening. In spite of, or because of, the lockdown great things happened as well – we had more time to reflect and pray, we made use of social media and technology to stay connected with loved ones and each other, brought forth creativity, people learned how to live without many things and found out what was more important and essential in life. Sisters also shared that our development is ongoing, we have a deeper understanding of ourselves, and we have grown in confidence and understand our calling in more depth. Life shared in community was more edifying and life giving, which strengthened our bonds, both personal and communal. The new that is emerging: trusting and hoping where we have been called to be a religious and to let it evolve.
More recently we had a very special opportunity to go to Germany. It was wonderful and educational. We went to Munich, Augsburg and Altötting to see and experience Mary Ward’s life, through her belongings and the archives. These included the original letters of the Glory Vision, lemon juice letters, a parchment covered book, the Libellus Ruber; original writings of Mary Ward – her spiritual journal and autobiography; Mary Ward’s companions’ lives and deaths from 1629 – 1687 written around 1689 by Lohner and the original portrait of Mary Poyntz. We stayed in Augsburg, the earliest house of the institute, founded by Mary Poyntz.
What a rich experience to touch and see Mary Ward’s personal things, the Painted Life and her original portrait which is a 399 years old painting. We sat in front of her paintings in the room and had a very special time with Mary Ward. We each of us appreciated this blessed moment and we are truly grateful for these many special opportunities to get to know our wider Institute of IBVM and CJ Sisters. With a grateful heart we truly cherish and nourish all of these gifts and opportunities – the UISG Formators course, pilgrimage to Mary Ward places in Rome, Germany, Vatican and other places, foretasting our union as ‘One.
This poem and the painting are the outcome of our insights on the women of CJ and IBVM, an accumulative feeling that developed during this time of our togetherness.
Glory of God
Bernadette Lepcha, Chetana Gregory, Pratima Tudu, Rosaline Nanga and Selvi Adaikalam.