The XXI General Chapter started on Friday 8th June, coinciding with the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. As an introductory rite, the General Superior Sr Anabela Carneiro, gave each of the sisters who participated a candle lighted with the paschal candle with the following message: “You have received the hospitaller spirit of the Heart of Jesus, abandon yourself confidently in it”. During mass, they were all reminded to be open to listening to the Spirit through their time of reflection, dialogue, deliberation, discernment and prayers.
You have received the hospitaller spirit of the Heart of Jesus, abandon yourself confidently in it
The reflection period started on the first evening and finished on the 10th June, led by Father Ismael A. Garceranth SJ, lawyer, theologian and canon law specialist and Sr Laurinda Martins de Faria, former General Councillor specialised in Religious Life and trainer. Sr Laurinda talked about the methodology the sisters should follow in order to work on the Instrumentum Laboris: Practice Hospitality, a proposal that comprises the contributions of the Hospitaller Institution (sisters, lay hospitallers and co-workers) which had to be discerned and approved within the chapter. Fr. Ismael was in charge of the reflection and prayers.
Analysis of the reality of the Congregation
On 11th June, the Life and Mision and the Economic Reports of the last six years were presented by the General Government. The first one gathers information about the revitalisation and reorganisation of the congregation, the revision of the Constitutions and the sexennial publications amongst others. Sr Claudice, the General Bursar, expressed the importance of the finances and the need to be reviewed with dedication and interest because this dimension makes the hospitaller life and mission possible. And she reminded us about the words of our Founder “a good administration doubles the assets to do good to the neighbour” (Const. 1882).
Each Province presented two reports on the reality of the communities and on the stage the hospitaller work is in as well as the future challenges. Europe was contemplated as the place where the hospitaller roots are. A reality made up of sisters who are getting old and of numerous co-workers, who make possible the hospitaller work to continue and renew within our own culture and values.
On the other hand, Latin America, Africa and Asia represent the ”the new part”. Sisters are young and committed to the recreation of the hospitaller charism and care projects which open a future of hope to so many people.
On the 13th, another Chapter phase began in which various speakers presented matters on Consecrated Life and the challenges the Congregation is currently experiencing. In the morning, the first talk “On a Samaritan Mission. Practice Hospitality” was given by Jose Cristo Rey Garcia Paredes, Claretian missionary and doctor in theology. In the afternoon, they continued with the presentation of Alberto Frassineti, organisation and strategy adviser within the charismatic aspect for different religious Institutions.
On the day after, the Assembly welcomed Msgr. Jose Rodriguez Carballo, Spanish Franciscan, and Archbishop Secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. In his exposition, he used some images to express the difficulties religious life is going through nowadays: chaos, dark night, winter, crisis… focusing on how to tackle each of them and on the new life they involve. Besides, he described the temptations we could give in to and suggested some future paths.
In the afternoon, Sr Giuseppina Alberghina, from the Congregation of the Sisters of Jesus the Good Shepherd, gave a talk about “The current challenges of Religious Life: Towards a change in governance style.”
The Chapter document belongs to the Congregation and all the sisters and co-workers who contributed to it.
On Friday 15th June, they started the discernment process of the Chapter document. To introduce them in this new phase, our General Superior, Sr Anabela Carneiro, reminded them that the document belongs to the Congregation and all the sisters and co-workers who contributed to it. Three fundamental areas were identified from the beginning: the communities, the mission and the governance style, as well as a cross-cutting theme: the evangelisation based on the Evangelii Gaudium by Pope Francis.
On 18th June, they spent the day reflecting on the revitalisation and reorganisation process the Congregation is undergoing.
Sister Anabela clarified this matter in two parts. First, she talked about the transformation processes in consecrated life, following a reflection of Fr Aquilino Bocos, cmf.; secondly, she described how these processes are being carried out in our Congregation. Next, she explained how our Congregation has lived through this transformation, especially since 2007. She mentioned the main structural changes with its ups and downs, emphasising that all these steps are helping us go back to our essence, grow in communion, get co-workers more involved, and look after the hospitaller identity and the viability of our Work.
Co-workers and Lay Hospitallers Join the Chapter
On 19th June in the morning, the co-workers and lay hospitallers invited joined the Chapter. The reception ceremony started in the Chapter anteroom, where all prayed together for the light of the Spirit and the intercession of our Founders. Then, in pairs, they carried a candle and a heart as symbols of the two XXI General Chapter’s icons and Sr Anabela welcomed and thanked them for being there. She identified the new Chapter community as “pluralistic and inclusive”, asked them to look at the source of the congregational Charisma, and to look with love at those who are suffering.
Donatella Acerbi, a consecrated layperson of the Congregation of St Vincent de Paul (Pallottini) was with us throughout the day. She pointed out that our Congregation has the Good Samaritan as a role model. “If you didn’t exist, the figure of Jesus, the Good Samaritan, wouldn’t be understood so well”.
On 20th June, they spent the day finding enlightenment in order to get ready for the third part of the Chapter document: HOSPITALLER MISSION THAT GOES FORTH. The first speaker was Professor Francesc Torralba, Doctor in Philosophy and Theology. He developed the meaning of the term ‘charism’ and the definition of ‘hospitality’, focusing on one of its main expressions: liberating welcoming. He said that the prejudices that stop us from welcoming others, the fear that paralyses the mission, ignoring the other, and physical and mental exhaustion are frequent obstacles. He encouraged the hospitaller community to live and irradiate hospitality by joining forces.
Then, they continued with the presentation of Dr Manuel Martin Carrasco: Where is world mental health heading towards? He thoroughly and competently developed matters such as epidemiology of world mental health; societies and mental health; new welfare models; and personalised healthcare.
If you didn't exist, the figure of Jesus, the Good Samaritan, wouldn't be understood so well
On 21st, the Chapter Assembly recalled the day our Founders left Granada towards Ciempozuelos in order to found the Congregation. At the start of the Assembly, our General Superior expressed her wishes that we are guided in our work and hospitaller life with the same “union of hearts” as our Founders were.
On the 22nd, the time that sisters, lay Hospitallers and co-workers spent working together came to an end. They were grateful for the trust, for the privilege that participating in the Assembly entails, and for the warm welcoming. They highlighted how important it is not to abandon “our roots” in order to give the best for the future of hospitality and the sick, together with the sisters. In this ever-changing society, “Hospitality is a treasure”. The different cultures, languages and countries were not an obstacle but enrichment and it helped everyone to value the universality of the Congregation.
The day after, sisters, co-workers and lay hospitallers went on a trip to Pompeii. They walked around the streets of the ancient city of Pompeii together, admiring its most impressive archaeological remains: the Forum, the Temple of Giove, the Basilica, the building of Eumachia and the Temple of Apollo amongst others. It was an unforgettable day!
In order to get ready for the elections, the Chapter Assembly spent some time praying and discerning. Sister Anabela thanked everyone personally and on behalf of all the sisters of the General Government, for the trust we have placed in them to serve the Congregation over the past six years. She was mindful of the fact that the Lord has been infinitely merciful with them and regrets the limitations of their service.
Anabela Moreira G. Carneiro was reelected as General Superior of the Congregation. She is a hospitaller sister with a great passion for Jesus, calm and committed to her vocation; humble, welcoming, patient, a woman that inspires communion. She has faith in the future of hospitality, not because of our strength but because nothing is impossible for God.
Visibly moved, Sister Anabela has accepted the service for another six years: “If God has set eyes on my smallness, here I am”. Sister Anabela was born in Amorim (Portugal), on 31st May 1964 and entered the Congregation of the Sisters Hospitallers of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Idanha (Belas) in 1883, and professed her Perpetual Vows in Ciempozuelos (Madrid), in 1991. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Religious Sciences from the Regina Mundi Pontifical Institute, and in Pedagogy of Vocations from the Salesian Pontifical University, both in Rome. She has carried out her hospitaller work mainly in the training field.
The following sisters were elected for the General Council:
1st General Counsellor and Vicar: Maria Esther Berruete Lanz
She was born in Navarra (Spain). She holds a degree in Social Work and a Master Degree in Bioethics. She has carried out her hospitaller work in various centres in the former Province of Palencia as a social worker, local Superior, manager and Provincial Superior. During the last six years, she has been the 2nd general Counsellor. She has now been elected 1st General Counsellor and Vicar in this XXI General Chapter.
2nd General Counsellor: Leòntine Judith Ngo Mbock
She was born in Matomb, Cameroon (Africa). She studied Religious Pedagogy in Kinshasa (DR Congo) and trained as a trainer in Salamanca (Spain). She has worked as a trainer and, over the past years, she accompanied the sisters during the discernment period for the perpetual vows in the Mother House in Cimpezuelos (Madrid, Spain).
3rd General Counsellor: Blanca Flor Guerrero Anganoy
She was born in Pasto (Colombia). She studied Religious Sciences in Colombia and Pedagogy of Vocations in Rome. She specialised in Health Administration. She was Provincial Counsellor and currently is the Secretary of the new Province of Latin America.
4th General Counsellor: María Begoña Pérez Martínez
She was born in San Llorente de la Vega (Burgos, Spain). She studied Nursing in England and Pedagogy of Vocations in Rome. In the past, she has been Secretary and General Counsellor and she is now the Provincial Superior of the English Province.