The annual meeting of the Inter-provincial council (IPC) 2017 was held at Bethel, Barapani from 26 to 30 March. The five days animation programme began with a day’s recollection, during which Fr. Thomas Manjaly from Oriens Theological College, Shillong, spoke on “Responsible leadership for a meaningful Chapter”. Highlighting the leadership role that calls for service in truth he said, “Leaders in the church are called to take decisions for the common good and no leader can abandon this responsibility. A leader is called to guide, inspire, encourage and create an environment of fraternal communion that enhances personal growth and fulfilment in apostolic mission.”
Sr. Philomena Mathew, the Superior General in view of the preparation for the Provincial and General Chapters presented the working document of the chapter, “Radical Renewal in Consecrated Life and Mission According to the Vision of Our Founder”. The document pointed out some of the challenges of today’s world, the Congregation’s legacy for the past 75 years, its strength and the areas which need to be improved. It posed many question for personal and community study. Sr. Philomena also dealt at length with the deeper meaning of Consecration and pointed out the primacy of God in religious life and mission.
Fr. Hector SJ in his session shared his ideas on effective leadership in the church. He said that leaders carry the responsibility with grace and they are called to manage persons and not things. He brought to the awareness of the assembly the fast changing social scenario and the impelling need to be prophetic voices in the present day society, to uphold the cause of the poor and the marginalized, those in the peripheries. He also spoke about the four temptations to which people generally succumb: The temptation to look for numbers without efficiency or effectiveness, to equate the age, ability and responsibility, to succumb to maintenance mode, to give excessive stress on ritualistic community practices rather than being prophetic voice in the society.
Sr. Mary Perunilam, the Assistant General spoke about the the responsibility of leaders and highlighted the importance of self-renewal and the need of preparedness to be fruitful in the service of the Lord. Quoting the constitutions and the Code of Cannon law that describe the duty of the Provincial and her councillors, she reminded their role and responsibilities.
Sr. Nancy Augustine, the General Councillor for Formation dealt with the present scenario of formation in the congregation with many positive aspects and a few setbacks to be taken note for further considerations and change.
Sr. Christine Mynsong, the General Councillor for Evangelization explained about the way the evangelizing mission is being carried out and the collaboration and support of the lay movements, YAC and WAC in various parts of the country. She also presented some of the concerns and challenges that are encountered in this filed.
Sr. Rose Paite, the General Councillor for Social Apostolate spoke about need to empower the women, girls and children by taking care of their health and enhancing their life skills. Another point she discussed was about the initiatives undertaken for the betterment of the domestic workers who form a vulnerable section of the society and the challenges and possibilities inherent in it.
Sr. Jane Francis, General Councillor for Education stressed on education as a powerful means for evangelization and emphasised on having passion and dedication in carrying out this mission. She reminded the members to take care of the essentials of school management and to be just and fair in all matters concerning the school, its students and staff.
Sr. Ancila Jose spoke about the great need of sharing resources as God is the owner of all property. She expressed her concerns and reminded the members some of the important aspects to be taken care of to bring in clarity and transparency.
Besides the common sessions by different persons the provinces were given time to present their plans and programmes chalked out for the year. There were also sharing and discussions on various matters of common interest in order to take adequate measures for the betterment of the Congregation’s life and mission.
On the final day, the group had a special session by Fr. Ravi Sagar SJ on Legal Laws and practices. He dealt with Criminal laws, Laws related to service and labour and laws related to minority rights. The session enriched the participants to become aware of the pressing demands of each day and to be prepared to deal with issues and problems tactfully.
The programme concluded with a pilgrimage to the tomb of the Founder, Venerable Bishop Stephen Ferrando, where the group had special prayers led by Sr. Mary Concepta, the provincial Superior of Shillong and Holy Mass celebrated by Fr. Philip Barjo SDB.