October 4 Tuesday
Arrival to the Congregation
Felicity was in the air as old friends greeted each other and new friends were made. The wonder of gathering together from all over the globe never ceasing to amaze. Orientating each other around the vast Center of Spirituality – discovering oratories, work spaces, laundries, the two gardens situated on the upper levels, dining room, accomodation, various chapels and of course the cave. Sharing highlights of the journey to Manresa, comparing the vast array of timezones and the challenges of travelling at this time. Some arrived in time for Spanish lunch at 1:30pm, others in time for dinner at 8pm.
October 5th Wednesday
Eucharist is celebrated in the Cave each morning by one of the Jesuit community at 7:30am in Catalan language.
Opening Ritual 10am (the Opening Ritual and Noelle’s Opening remarks are available on the website)
Introduction to Manresa and composition of place by Xavier Meloni SJ at midday. Javier is the director of the CIEL (Centro Intentional de Espiritualidad Ignaciana) and has lived in Manresa for 25 years. In his talk, Xavier revealed how profound a time this is to be gathering in Manresa exactly 500 years since Saint Ignatius experienced his intense interior conversion, finally surrendering all to God, trusting in God’s love and receiving such extraordinary graces. It is indeed momentous to be holding our General Congregation here at this very time. A place of spiritual pilgrimage and retreat.
Opening Eucharist 5pm celebrated by John Dardis SJ and live streamed from the Sanctuary of the Cave of Saint Ignatius. A beautiful Church the stunning mosaics the work of Jesuit artist Marko Ivan Rupnik a recent addition. The Eucharist was prepared by the Spanish province. The Directors of Spanish IBVM and CJ schools and others from the CJ’s and Mary Ward family joined were with us.
October 6th Thursday
Early mass in the cave was so popular, many overflowed into the sanctuary. (Mass was also offered at the end of the day with John Dardis SJ in the Teilhard de Chardin SJ chapel on the first floor.) Breakfast at 8:30am.
Faith Sharing at 9:30 in small circles – reclaiming the freshness of the Gospel (see website prayer room to pray the same material)
After Noelle lead the Delegates in the Opening Formalities, the facilitators Piluca and Bobby guided the Delegates into a day of ‘Forming a Discerning Community’.
Preparation throughout the day for the ‘Reflections from the Provinces’ in the calendar tomorrow filled in any spaces as well as animated conversations at dinner, walks, and there was quiet prayer for some -discovering the retreat house spaces, evening mass was enjoyed by many.
October 8th Friday
8.00 am mass in the Teilhard de Chardin Chapel with John Dardis SJ
As it was the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, the group was encouraged to reflect on our own sorrowful, joyful and glorious mysteries as well as the sorrowful, joyful and glorious mysteries of our Institute.
Breakfast at 8:30, then we began the morning in our faith sharing groups, praying with the daily Gospel – Luke 11:15-26 (see prayer room link to pray the same material).
Piluca began the day facilitating in Spanish, enabling new voices to emerge. Delegates then moved into new random tables, so that everyone will be able to spend quality time with all delegates.
Today, reflection from Provinces and regions were given in alphabetical order. Beginning with Australia and South East Asia. Bobby posed the delegates questions throughout the day, encouraging notes and table conversation. Delegates were encouraged to deep dive into the current reality with a discerning heart, listening for the message underneath.
Canadian Region was next up, followed by…
October 8th Saturday
After breakfast, Faith Sharing on the daily Gospel Luke 11:27-28 in groups. This was followed by further reflections from the Spanish Province and the Community of Southern Africa. After lunch the USA Region shared their reflections. The Delegates listened and shared conversation at tables and were encouraged to walk together outside and explore the sacred space of Manresa.
At 5pm the Ritual of Remembrance was led by the Canadian Region. (A video to share is coming soon)
Mass in the chapel was celebrated by John Dardis SJ and dinner and a special birthday celebration of our Delegate Pragya was enjoyed by all. Some energetic Delegates walked into Manresa where a local festival is happening.
October 9th Sunday
Delegates had a free day today to explore the surrounding areas or to catch up on rest. Some visited Barcelona and saw spectacular sites like the Basilica of Santa Maria Del Mar. Others made an excursion to Montserrat to enjoy the mountaintop views and serenity of the sacred space of the shrine to Our Lady of Montserrat. Still others explored Manresa and found hidden gems and time for quiet.
October 10th Monday
A full day for delegates. After faith sharing, we had presentations and input in the morning on sections of the Institute Leadership Report, including the Finance Report, followed by clarifying questions, reflection and table conversation. Before lunch, we had input via Zoom from Institute Archivist Aine McHugh. After lunch, delegates dived back into conversation and reflection following input from Liz Cotter, ibvm on the Cause of Mary Ward, Zoom input from Pauline Macharia, ibvm and Adina Balan, cj at the JPIC Office in Rome as well as Janet Palafox, ibvm and Cynthia Mathew, cj at the UN NGO Office in New York City. Final input was provided by the Institute Leadership Team on formation and mission.
Following the long day of input, delegates used their evening break to seek out some fresh air and walk along the Cardoner river or again explore the surrounding area. At both dinner and lunch, the U.S. delegates surprised their Canadian friends with a special celebration of Canadian Thanksgiving, celebrated today in Canada. We all shared in the gratitude at the evening social.
October 11th Tuesday
Faith sharing to start the day.
Delegates continued to receive input from the Institute Leadership Team in the morning on issues of the newly established mission office and governance. This was followed by input on the unfolding of the Becoming One process over the 8-year leadership term.
Before breaking for lunch, delegates were encouraged to reflect on their understanding of the gift of the Institute to the world and to creatively express that through small group presentations. In the afternoon, delegates shared their reflections in the plenary.
The afternoon concluded with a beautiful and meaningful ritual of thanksgiving, prepared by the U.S. Region, for the gifts we have received from the Institute Leadership Team over their 8-year term. A video of this ritual is available here: https://youtu.be/2LjQpDVPeV8
The afternoon ended with Mass in the meeting room, followed by dinner and social time for those who still had energy!
October 12th Wednesday
Wednesday marked a shift in the GC proceedings as delegates transitioned to a deep three-day process of discernment on Becoming One. Fr. John Dardis, SJ is leading delegates through this process. The day began with opening words from Noelle on the Becoming One process to date. John then invited delegates into a prayerful discernment process beginning with a reflection on each one’s initial call to religious life in the Institute and the attraction of the Gospel and Mary Ward to this life. Delegates engaged in spiritual conversation in small groups and plenary sharing of the fruits of their prayer.
The afternoon was dedicated to receiving input on the canonical elements of the Becoming One process as well as the opportunity to hear reflections from IBVMs and CJs who had been at the CJ GC and their responses and reaction to the idea of fusion/merger. Delegates had the opportunity to ask clarifying questions and go deeper into discussion of what Becoming One might mean.
The day ended with a special Eucharistic liturgy prepared by England and presided by John.
October 13th Thursday
Today the Delegates continued to share the fruits of their prayer. They joined together in Spiritual Conversation, sharing issues of consolation and concern, listening deeply to the Spirit.
Eucharist for the day was prepared by the Peru Region.
October 14th Friday
Discernment on Becoming One continued. The Delegates were in silent retreat at the beginning. At midday we celebrated Mass, prepared by the delegates from Mauritius. In the afternoon Noelle presided over the vote to ratify the petition made at the CJ General Congregation in Nemi on 23rd of August, 2022. The Delegates voted unanimously to ratify the decision of the CJ asking for a juridic/ fusion merger of the IBVM with the CJ.
Wonderful rejoicing and celebrations followed! A momentous occasion with joy that rippled throughout the Institute.
October 15th Saturday
This morning the Delegates shifted focus and began to Discern the Emerging Dream together. A new oneness in the air and without doubt a sense of deep peace and celebration was evident. There was also a little fatigue after such a big event. In the afternoon the Delegates visited Montserrat with a highlight being the celebration of Eucharist in the Chapel of Our Lady of Montserrat which brought the Bicentenary to an official and joyful close. We are all grateful for the pastoral support and facilitation John Dardis SJ offered us throughout this momentous week.
October 16th Sunday
A free day. Many Delegates and support staff took a trip to Barcelona and visited the Sagrada Familia an extraordinary Basilica designed by genius architect Antoni Gaudi. Five generations have now watched this Temple progress in Barcelona and the construction continues. Supported by the people for the people.
October 17th Monday
After the Sunday break, delegates returned to the meeting space with a renewed sense of purpose, entering into the next phase of the GC journey. Following the morning faith sharing on the gospel of the day, delegates spent the morning discerning the emerging themes for the Calls, informed by the key statements from the CJ General Congregation.
In the afternoon, delegates continued to reflect upon and discuss the emerging themes, engaging in table conversation and plenary sharing.
October 18th Tuesday
Delegates began the morning with a reflective prayer, paying attention to the movement of the spirits active in dreams and in waking thoughts. After a time of sharing, delegates resumed reflection and discussion of the Calls. The morning session was given over to deep listening as each delegate took time to share.
Following the lunch break and a short siesta, if desired, delegates continued the discernment process. They were invited to move out from the meeting room and take a walk or enjoy the other prayerful spaces at the Spirituality Centre. Sharing and deep listening continued for the remainder of the work day.
October 19th Wednesday & October 20th Thursday
Discernment of the Call to Leadership.
Election of Sr. Carmel Swords as the new IBVM Institute Leader.
October 21st Friday
Delegates are engaged in discerning the Institute Leadership Team members.
October 22nd Saturday
The new IBVM Institute Leadership team is elected.
October 23rd Sunday
Delegates enjoyed a well-earned day off! Some rested at home, some went to Barcelona, others to Montserrat.
October 24th Monday
The day began with faith sharing in table groups. The morning and afternoon sessions were dedicated to listening, sharing, and discerning new Institute priorities.
Conversation in small groups in the Cova Sanctuary Chapel.
October 25th Tuesday
The morning began with faith sharing at table groups. It was followed by further sharing on the possible Calls from the emerging themes. Conversation in small groups and in the plenary led to a first draft of the Calls being shared in the afternoon session with feedback provided from all delegates. The afternoon concluded with a ritual of gratitude for one of our co-facilitators, Piluca Benavente Serrano MSOLA, who will depart on Wednesday. Bobby Moore will continue to lead the group until the GC concludes.
A blessing for Piluca
October 26th Wednesday
The morning began, as usual, with faith sharing at table groups. Delegates spent the day in conversation to further refine the GC Calls in development, to respond to the leadership finance report, and give feedback on the experience of the new forms of province/regional leadership models.
In the late afternoon, the Australia and South East Asia Province led the group in a commissioning ritual to bless and affirm the incoming leadership team.
The evening concluded with the 2022 Stellar Awards – an evening of glitz, glamour, humour, and celebration of each person’s contribution to our time together. A big thank you to Brenda Eagan, Christa Parra, and the team of extraordinary presenters!
October 27th Thursday
The final morning began with faith sharing in groups and felicity filled the room. Blessings of the various groups that supported and facilitated the General Congregation process followed. A Closing Ritual of Thanksgiving was led by the Delegates from the Irish Province and was followed by the last shared lunch. The closing Celebration of the Eucharist was celebrated by Xavier Melloni SJ and led by the South Asia Province. This was live streamed and can be accessed on our youtube channel in the prayer room. Afterwards, the sisters and wider circle of Mary Ward family present joined in celebrations with delicious tapas and Spanish wine. Yet again the wonderful hospitality from the Cova Manresa kitchen staff was enjoyed by all.
Jesus say Amen!