Sister M. Margarete Ulager, General Superior, in her circular letter wrote, “with this rather unfamiliar view of the Portiuncula Chapel in Assisi, we greet you warmly on the Feast of St. Francis from the Generalate. The above picture was taken by Stefan Diller, a well-known photographer. His pictures can also be found in our General Constitutions.
As the Feast of St. Francis comes nearer, our recently held first International Virtual Leadership Conference keeps coming to my mind. Sister Carol Zinn gave us homework, asking us, to share three examples that put into action the theme, "embrace the Future with hope”, that show how our Sisters are, in their own way, embracing the future with hope. Each Province was asked to reflect on the theme and share their experiences with us.
We, the Sisters in the Generalate, have also dealt with this question and have described, among other things, the following:
“It has been our experience that our Sisters throughout the world are very close to the people, regardless of the work they do. Our presence is well appreciated, even in places where the Church has lost the trust of society. Without a doubt, the heritage of St. Francis of Assisi accompanies us on all continents. As the Generalate, we have been very actively involved in the life of the Provinces in all facets.
In our Provinces in Germany, Poland, America, Japan and India, with convents in the Netherlands, Kazakhstan, Korea and Vietnam, our Sisters serve those at the margins of society - the sick, the poor, the lonely, the outcasts, those subjected to various addictions and others. Especially in India, many people live in villages and they are often poor and illiterate. In this reality, the presence of the Sisters is very important. They carry out frontline ministries by supporting people's social and cultural rights, and often offer the simplest forms of help, sometimes, at the risk of their own lives. Every day, all of our Sisters bring our world before God in prayer. They serve through their being. All of this is a deep christian witness that springs from our life-giving charism. Their very being is a living testimony to the healing presence of Christ.
Today, many lay people support the mission and the apostolate of our Sisters. They are working in different fields of our Provinces and the Generalate.“
Let us pray, that our live and ministry will always be inspired by the charism of St. Francis, our founder Father Christopher Bernsmeyer and the courage of our first Sisters. This charism is not our work - it is the work of the Holy Spirit, a mystery that is revealed in the way we live our live. It is true that no one can say exactly what the present demands of us and what the future holds.
Father Michael, in his closing remarks to the participants of the Leadership Conference, said, that we can only shape the future together and that it is God's future, not our future.
Together with you we want to live the present and embrace the future with hope. Pope Francis says:"The presence of Jesus is everything. There alone lies the strength of consecrated life and of our vocation." A blessed Feast!