France: Meeting of the young Dominican sisters in Europe

on 14 Jun, 2016
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France, 01/05/2016, Sr. Amanda Mancipe.- The so called Düsseldorf meetings were born of the desire of the young sisters of the Dominican Congregations in Europe. Sr. Cielo Esperanza Patiño from the Community of Il Rosario (Roma) and I (France) participated in this meeting (01/02-04/2016) at the invitation of Sr. Veronique Margron, provincial superior. We were a group of 22 Sisters from the different countries and Dominican Congregations in Europe and Sr. Else-Britt, the continental coordinator. Sr. Else presented us the history and statistics of the Apostolic Dominican Sisters in Europe.

Group of participantsGroup of participantsTill 2011, there were 7000 Dominican Sisters and among them only 150 were less than 45 years old. In all the Congregations, the problems and concerns are the same: the decline of vocations, houses to be closed and aging of the Congregation... But all desire to have more sharing and mutual help among them. We had a Conference on "Regular Observance" in the Order and how this can be nourished and perhaps become a source of life for our Communities today.

History
The member Congregations of the DES (Dominican Sisters in Europe) during their preparation for the General Assembly of 2010, wished to know the points of view of the young sisters. The first meeting was held at Düsseldorf (Germany) with the theme: “Build the future with realism, audacity and hope.” To this meeting were invited from each linguistic zone, 3 sisters who have less than 40 years of profession and can speak English or French fluently. This meeting was animated by Brother Jean Claude Lavigne. The aim was to get to know one another as Dominican Sisters in Europe and to decide on what should be said at the General Assembly of DES. A young sister was delegated to represent them at this Assembly and to share their reflections.

In 2011 the meeting took place in the form of a retreat. The meeting of 2012 was prepared, for the first time, by a small group (2 sisters and a brother, Brother Vivian: Assistant of the Master and Socius for Northern Europe, France and Canada). 2013: Theme: (The Young Dominican Sisters in Europe and New Evangelization.” 2014: “Preach happiness, a Dominican vocation (Dominic and happiness, Saint Thomas Aquinas and happiness, Saint Catherine of Sienna and happiness).” 2015: “Forgiveness and Reconciliation in the Community. The Mercy of God and your own mercy.” Now we are at the meeting of 2016 with the theme “The Order of Preachers, always Genuine, Up-to-date and Alive.”

Sisters Amanda and Cielo Esperanza, on the rightSisters Amanda and Cielo Esperanza, on the rightWork in groups
1. In groups by country, we reflected and shared on what we have in common as Dominican Congregations, what are the areas of collaboration and what is the mission to be accomplished together, etc.

2. In the second group work we shared on three points:
  • An experience of “death” in our Congregations in the past or at present.
  • The experiences of life – above all if they are connected with the experience of death.
  • What has been or what are your experiences of death as a source of life in the last two decades.

On January 3rd, we had the joy of listening to and sharing with Sr. Marjolein (A Dutch Dominican Sister of Bethany). She spoke to us about her work in New York in the United Nations, the conditions of women and human trafficking. It was a powerful call to be attentive to the way “woman is treated in our area of insertion or work”, to commit ourselves to respect the rights of human beings, to become more and more aware of the conditions of woman who is scorned at in all the countries. Human trafficking takes place not only in far away countries but also at the very corner of our street.

   

In the evaluation we expressed some of our expectations for the meeting of 2017. Here are some ideas to have a good appetite for those who will participate in it next year:

  • Dominican Jubilee and its multiple faces in the different places?
  • Obedience and freedom in Dominican life.
  • Formation for preaching: what does a preacher need today to be a witness of mercy?
  • Justice and Peace in the Order.

Here are a few lines to have a glimpse over this meeting which enriched us with its fraternal sharing.