Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Moving Forward Together: Reflections on Cape Breton Regional Gathering

Submitted by:  Sandra Schwinghamer - Associate, Sister of Charity

On October 27, 2012, the Atlantic Religious Congregations  Associate Network (ARCAN) met at the MacAulay Conference Centre, Inverary Inn, Baddeck, Nova Scotia.  The theme of this 10th anniversary gathering was  "Moving Forward Together”.   The members of the ARCAN executive who planned the event were: Sister Claudette Gallant CSM, Sister Margie Gillis SC, Peg Madigan CND-A, and Cora Shebib SC-A. 

Carl Madigan, Sr. Christine Beaton, cnd
Our day began joyfully with members of both the planning team and panel members graciously welcoming everyone.  Sister Claudette led us through prayer-song.  We were 'gathered into the arms of God’.  We heard some of the history, the challenges and the hopes for ARCAN.  We were asked to consider what is our future for ARCAN.

A panel was in place and each member came prepared to answer two questions:
What sustains me in this broken world/society/church?
What does the associate relationship do for me?

The response to the questions came from one sister and one associate from each of the attending congregations:  Sister Christene Beaton CND, Carl Madigan CND-A, Sister Agnes Burrows SC, Anita Nicholson SC-A, Sister Catherine MacFarlane CSM, Nora Bernard CSM-A.  Each member of the panel had a fully developed, carefully formed response.  Every talk was enriched by beautiful Scripture passages and quotes from renowned authors.  For our part we listened attentively and with great appreciation.  Their  insightful words were uplifting  and encouraging,  drawn  from years of a lived faith.

The conference delegates were also given some questions to consider:
  • What did you hear this morning?
  • How did you feel about what you heard?
  • How do we move forward together?
Geraldine Walker, Paula Nearing, Gerry Condon
The lively conversation that followed showed we had indeed left the land of silence and brought our truth to voice! We were reminded there is but one charism, one spirit. That charism is the spirit of Jesus Christ….....the charism of love with its many facets.

In our closing ritual we formed a circle and sang with drum and guitar.  We formed a moving circle and slowly walked to the basket to select one of the braids we had braided earlier.   Each braid was woven of four cloth streamers, the colours of which represented earth, air, fire and  water.  In our song each compass direction was assigned an attribute:  the east – dawning,  the south – growing,  the north – wisdom,  the west – seeing.  While singing I realized that we ourselves had been immersed in a process that day of dawning, growing, wisdom and seeing. We could envision the quote of activist and author Arundhati  Roy:

Another world is not only possible,
She is on her way.
On a quiet day
I can hear her breathing.

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