Mission that is life and dialogue: keys to the Chapter Document

Five of the sisters of the European Province participating in the General Chapter held a discussion to unpack some of the key points of the Chapter Document. At the center, a strong idea: the mission has to do with the whole of life. It is not merely an individual matter; it can no longer be understood as the shared responsibility of the entire Vedruna Family. Increasingly, this mission is being carried out in a network with other religious families and even with other social actors.

The mission, in the Vedruna key, is inseparable from the youth. Inmaculada Eibe, who participated in the Chapter as coordinator of the Youth Vocation Ministry team of the Province of Europe, assured that vocation culture “is not a task”, but rather “life in mission”, and therefore “it is the responsibility of all of us as a charismatic family”.

Commenting on the emphasis on “the preferential option for young people” in the Chapter Document, Inma EIbe explained that the Chapter took up the challenge launched by Pope Francis at the World Youth Day in Lisbon, to “walk with all young people”, in their diverse “realities, cultures and experiences”, accompanying them in their search for meaning in a close and respectful way, through “trained accompaniment”.

Mª Carmen Barrena also insisted on the importance of training. The general coordinator of the Vedruna Laity explained that the concept of “charismatic family”, as understood in the Chapter Document, is linked to an idea of mission that goes beyond the concrete task that each one carries out, and has to do with the whole of life. The shared mission, he added, is a field in which progress is being made slowly but surely. At the center, he believes, “must be the person”; that is, the different “rhythms” and “cultures”, from “respect for each person, each reality, each situation”.

“Unique and shared mission is not a new theme” for the Vedruna Family, said Maria Ines Garcia, who, as former General of the Congregation, piloted the preparation of the General Chapter. In his opinion, this mission, as much or more than what we do, has to do with the meaning of what we do, which is “to announce the Good News of the Kingdom”, which is concretized in different works “in health, education, liberation…” that can change according to time and circumstances.

This mission, he added, “is not personal” alone, but “communitarian”. It is carried out in network with other religious families and even with other social groups. Because “today religious life is not conceivable if we are not involved in the great causes that affect humanity,” he said. All this social or educational work that the chapter document defines as “creative mission” must be done “with a global outlook, in such a way that it contributes to the great causes of humanity: peace, justice, fraternity, care for the common home or the wound of the emptiness of meaning.

A clear idea of mission is also essential for the good administration of the Congregation, according to Herminia Alvarez, who, as administrator of the Congregation, presented to the General Chapter a study on the economic situation of the different provinces. What is at stake, he explained, is nothing less than making “mission possible.” “Only if we put the goal there will we be able to better live the decisions we have to make.”

A central idea that he conveyed to the Chapter was that, in order to achieve this, it will be necessary in the coming years to make some decisions that are not always easy. The surprise for her was the good attitude with which this message was received, from the positive approach that a transparent administration, with the necessary foresight, will make it possible to carry out the appropriate actions today so that the mission will be viable in the future.

Unlike on previous occasions, rather than giving an account of economic management, Herminia Álvarez emphasized that in the last chapter there was a clear underlying approach of trying to show that “everything is connected”, as the Pope emphasizes in the encyclical Laudato si’: the economy, mission, care for the environment, social justice….

The connection is possible from an “integral spirituality”, which was the central theme of the intervention of Montse Fenosa, from the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Team.

In Joaquina, she said, we already find many “fundamental traits” of that integral spirituality that becomes inseparable from life. Joaquina could not speak of ecological crisis, because in her time this was not a problem, but she did teach “a simple, sober lifestyle in solidarity with the impoverished”, which was nourished by “listening to God”.

Such listening is essential today, he added. “Sometimes we Vedruna are very active, and we need to “seek times and spaces of silence to listen to reality, in deep dialogue with the Lord”. In dialogue, also, with other religious families, with other religions and other social actors with whom it is essential today to work in a network.