“We are here to create something NEW”
…These are the words of MSC General Superior Sr. Barbara Staley, spoken as she offered her opening remarks at the 2015 Provincial Assembly currently in session in Florham Park, New Jersey.
Missionary Sisters and lay leaders from the Stella Maris Province were united in an Assembly for the first time with the Missionary Sisters from Mexico and Central America. In the near future, the MSCs from Mexico and Central America will join the MSCs of the Stella Maris Province in forming a new entity.
Sr. Barbara reflected, “we are living the dreams and visions of our sisters of the past. We are building the future, which we look to with hope. Sisters and brothers, we are living in the rivers of grace and mercy; a grace that comes to us through charism.”
Fittingly, as the Stella Maris Province unites with the region of Central America, the theme of the Provincial Assembly is “interculture-ality”. To explore the implications of this new entity – this new union – Dr. Arturo Chavez, the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Mexican American Catholic College in San Antonio, Texas, led the Assembly in interactive exercises designed to consider the many dimensions of culture.
Taken from the work of Edward T. Hall and Eric H.F. Law, “culture is the particular way in which a human group interprets life and relates with nature, God, the world and other peoples. Culture is lived and expressed through traditions, relationships, food, music, religion, beliefs, thought patterns, myths and how we act. It is not only how we are, it is who we are. It is our history, our ethnicity, how we think about our families, who we include in our families, how we speak and when we speak, how we think about God and how we relate to God. It is how we relate to each other and how we relate to the stranger.”
Dr. Chavez asked the Assembly to consider the “Iceberg Analogy of Culture” created by Hall and Law. In doing so, sisters and laity contemplated the internal and external aspects of culture. The Assembly was invited to share in conversation about individual family heritage and traditions – how these serve to form an individual and his or her perceptions of others and of the world.
The first step in building an intercultural community, posited Dr. Chavez, is to get to know our own hearts. Being aware of our own heart, we come to a better understanding of our own power and how cultures have formed us.
One session of the Assembly focused on the way in which Cabrinian ministries are addressing the pressing issues of immigration, migration, refugees, asylum seekers and human trafficking. It is through these responses that we see how the Cabrinian charism is living and active in the world today.
Woven into the Assembly program were times for prayer and reflection each highlighting a different country present at the Assembly. Liturgies at the Assembly were offered in Spanish and English in honor of the new reality. In a further spirit of celebration, during Monday’s liturgy, Vicky Lucio renewed her commitment as a Cabrini Lay Missionary (CLM).
Nothing transcends culture like music and dancing. Therefore, no Assembly is complete without its own fiesta! With smiles and laughter, Missionary Sisters and laity shared the floor dancing to the beat of Latin, Swazi and American songs…united as one. For more photos visit: www.mothercabrini.org