Policy Statement of the General Chapter SFIC 2017
For the Love of God:
Wellspring of our Existence for 175
We, the delegates of the 9th General Chapter from the Netherlands, Indonesia, Philippine North and South Provinces and Kenya Mission gathered in Veghel, Netherlands from May 12-31, 2017, have walked anew the hallowed grounds of our beginnings.
With reverence, we communed with our Foundress, Mother Teresia van Miert and forebears whose lives, borne by the Love of God, have become a living testament of the spring of living water flowing down the ages of our SFIC history.
In solemn prayer and thanksgiving, we gathered around the SFIC tree of life and fountain of living water, a symbol of abiding love of our Sisters in the Netherlands Province, indicative of another milestone in our sojourn as a Congregation.
Our day dedicated to prayer and stillness has been graced with a surprise presentation of “As Trees on this Ground”, a very moving spiritual document that has capsulized in ten basic words the story of the Franciscan Sisters of Veghel in the last 17 decades.
It becomes imperative for us to reflect, contemplate, enrich and live out this story in our own Provinces and Mission and pass this on to our lay partners and all those we serve including the whole of creation.
As trees on this ground planted in many lands, we have experienced the dilemma of the tower of Babel and the intricacies of interculturality, especially during our international gatherings. It is in this colorful diversity that we discover our unique identities as we strive to be one through steepness in the Gospel and in our SFIC charism and spirituality.
In this spirit of journey towards completion, of passing on and letting go and of moving forward in the context of our times, this General Chapter have come up with policy decisions and recommendations to give direction to our life and mission for the coming term 2017-2021.
In the spirit of sharing our happy vocation which we experience in our loving surrender to the living God, we shall endeavor to proclaim the good message to everyone. We will work on this in an active and dynamic way.
In anticipation of our 175th jubilee year we are impelled to go back to our roots. In consonance with this we have decided that: our initial and on-going formation program and processes shall make use of our Congregational resources to acquire the SFIC spirituality and develop love for it in the formandi’s process of interiorization and witness of life.
The spiritual legacy of our foundress Mother Teresia van Miert as captured in the document As Trees on this Ground shall be contextualized and deepened in our annual retreat and recollections during this term.
This will further include study days for Provincial Superiors and Formators (Novice Mistress and Junior Directress) in the coming term that will focus on the spiritual legacy of Mother Teresia van Miert for prophetic witnessing, proclamation of the gospel of joy and intercultural living. This study days will be organized by the General Board.
Recognizing the need for a more systematic and uniform financial reporting we endorse the study days for financial administrators early in the General Board’s term in the Netherlands. This will include a manual on financial matters and the yearly submission of the financial reports. This will be organized by the General Board with the help of the Netherlands Province.
Love, concern and support for our youngest mission territory has been so much a part of our past and present concerns. In light of their journey towards Provincehood it has been resolved that the different Provinces except the NL Province shall continue sending missionaries to the Kenya mission after an intensive preparation. (prop. 16)
The elected representatives of the Kenya mission continue in the next term to participate in different Provincial Chapters as observers except in the Netherlands Province. The Kenyan Mission Superior continue to be an observer in the General Chapter. (prop. 4) In like manner the Sister Missionaries in the Kenya Mission exercise their voting rights in Kenya.
Given its limitations for now, the Kenya mission can only welcome candidates from East Africa, meaning the countries of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.
The ring of Mother Teresia van Miert which she started to wear after she was re-elected as the General Superior in 1850 has been passed on to the Generalate as a constant reminder of Servant Leadership and Unity.
This chapter decided that the location of the Generalate be retained in Tagaytay City, Philippines. In line with this, the Province where the Generalate is located has to provide two Sisters to support the Generalate Community for household management and pastoral engagement.
As in the 2013 General Chapter, the commitment to support the General Board from the Solidarity fund by the Provinces and the Kenya Mission shall be maintained. (Refer to Proposals.)
In consonance with S116 of our SFIC Constitutions the next General Chapter in 2021shall retain the number of delegates of three elected and one ex-officio from the Provinces. The Philippine South Province will have two elected and one ex-officio.
Celebration of the 175th Year of our Existence as a Congregation
The General Board shall plan and make guidelines for the celebration of the 175th jubilee year of the Congregation and coordinate with the different Provinces and the Kenya Mission to come up with a video presentation on the history of the Congregation.
In this regard the respective Provinces and Kenya Mission have to come up with activities to share with the poor and marginalized in keeping with signs of the times and following the tradition of our Congregation.
In generosity of heart and spirit the Netherlands Province and concurred by the other Chapter Members offered to invite five delegates, four young perpetually professed sisters and the Provincial / Mission Superiors and the General Superior and a General Board Member to attend a workshop on “Going back to the roots of the Congregation”.
Recognizing the present situation of the Netherlands Province, the General Chapter has endorsed permission to the Provincial Board of the Netherlands to explore the possibility of changing their status from Province to a Religious House.
Commission on SFIC Heritage
Each Province and the Kenya Mission creates its own Commission on Heritage and Patrimony. The Netherlands will continue with the present Commission.
The Commission on SFIC Heritage from the Dutch Province will continue their collaboration with the General Board in looking into Dutch resources to be translated in the Provinces’ languages for posterity.
During this 9th General Chapter the stream of living water has sprung alive in our hearts and being.
We celebrated our coming together in sisterly joy and thanksgiving in prayer and contemplation, in better understanding and loving concern for one another drinking deeply from the wells of our beginnings.
A new spirit has dawn upon us. For the love of God will move us forward in simplicity, submission, love and penance in our participation in the mission of Christ, in our passion to heed the cry of the poor and in care for our common home, in our respective lands.
For the love of God will empower us with a humble courage to a life of prophetic witness by the testimony of our lives that God is the Beginning and End of all love.
As streams of living water, Love will flow on.
The 9th general chapter of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of the Holy Mother of God
Motherhouse Veghel, The Netherlands
May 16 – 30, 2017