Opening of the 4th Chapter of the Vicariate of Benin
Our sister Reine Rachelle tells us about Friday, August 21, 2015, the opening of the 4th chapter of the vicariate of Benin, and a day of recollection for the 13 capitulary sisters.
After the office of Lauds, we had a morning of silence and prayer. The Eucharist at noon, celebrated by Fr. Gilles Soglo, op, prior of the Fraternity of St. Dominic of Cotonou, marked the opening of the chapter.
In the afternoon, we heard a talk by Fr. Gilles, op, on the “Apostolic Letter of Pope Francis to all the consecrated persons on the occasion of the Year of Consecrated Life” of November 21, 2014. Fr. Gilles reminded us of the objectives of the Year of Consecrated Life: “to look at the past with gratitude; to live the present with passion, and to embrace with future with hope.” He left us with some questions for reflection and meditation.
The past: what is the reason for my gratitude? To what conversion do I feel called?
The present: We need to question ourselves on:
the relevance of the Order’s charism in daily life today
faithfulness to our commitment and to the elements of our common life
poverty and chastity as a way to live our consecration
communion with God and communion among ourselves: “where and how have I lived communion: actions, words, attitude…?”
The future: embrace the future with hope. This hope has a name: Jesus himself. We are thus invited to center ourselves in Christ so as not to “consider ourselves as owners of our buildings and of our missions…. We are always in delegation.” We must beg anew our identity of sons/daughters of God.
Young people are the present and the future. In fact, Fr. Gilles helped us to become even more aware of the necessity to form the young in the heart of the novitiate: formation of a Christian conscience, religious formation, human formation… For religious life allows itself to be invaded by the values of the world. We must think about formation, about the transmission of the values that create religion life and that ensure the future.
Regarding the expectations of Pope Francis for the Year of Consecrated Life, Fr. Gilles stressed the need to:
Radiate the joy of our consecration
Live with assurance the prophetic aspect of religious life: indicate meaning and always remind the world of the Absolute of God
Become experts in communion: deepen the meaning of our vows of poverty and chastity
Open ourselves to the audacity of the mission: open the borders, leave our certainties behind, open ourselves to newness, witness to the ability to go to meet the other and to enter into dialogue with him or her
Welcome the Year of Consecrated Life as the rediscovery of a charismatic family
Ask questions such as: What can we offer to those around us?
Help the Church and the world to rediscover religious life
The speaker concluded his talk by referring to a Scripture text: Mk 2:2-12. From his reading of this passage, the following applications to the chapter could be discerned:
The Lord gives us the grace of opening from above
We need the audacity of faith to leave our projects, our dreams at the feet of Jesus
When Jesus says to the paralytic, “Stand up,” he is calling him to a new birth in order to set him upright
In the same way, through this chapter, the Lord wants to renew the vicariate and each of its sisters. We must collaborate with him by listening to one another in filial obedience to God’s will, so as to allow the chapter to bring forth new paths for the mission.
The first day of the chapter ended with a celebration of common prayer during which we dared to look at the past with gratitude and thanksgiving, at the present while rooted in the Lord, and at the future, opening ourselves to grace.
Many symbols were used to highlight each stage:
1-The past: “Look at the rock from which you have been hewn.” Is. 51:1. The symbols used here were: a rock, the Gospel, a relic of St. Dominic, the Constitutions, and the date of October 4 1969 (arrival of the first sisters in Benin)
2-The present: “Be rooted in the Lord.” Col.2:7. The symbols used were: photos of communities, 4 candles for the 4 communities, the documents of the chapter
3-The future: “Become capacity and I will become a torrent.” (The Lord to St. Catherine of Sienna). The symbols used were: a jar in the earth a copybook open to a blank page.
Sr. Rachelle, Da-Gbadji, op