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We are grateful to God and to the whole SFP family for the grace of visiting the tomb of Mother Frances and meeting her daughters in Aachen for their 30th General Chapter. They welcomed us a Sisters, and they were very thoughtful and kind to us throughout our stay.

rmf cap aachen 05The theme of the Chapter of the Sisters of the Poor of St. Francis was: "We want to continue with courage and confidence, with determination, loyalty and perseverance,
on the road that lead us to the desired goal."

The chapter was divided into parts: the first was dedicated to the report of the Superior General and the financial statement; the proposals to change the Constitutions and Regulations; and the examination and approval of proposals presented to the Chapter by some Sisters.

The following week, Chapter participants returned to their communities for a time of reflection and prayer before returning to begin the second part of the General Chapter which was dedicated to the election of the Superior General and the Councilors and the definition of future guidelines.

rmf cap aachen 06The first session of the Chapter began with a beautiful celebration during which the Sisters were gathered together at the tomb of Mother Frances. For us it was a grace to be at the tomb of Mother Frances and to walk as she walked. We enter the lives of these sisters on tiptoe as you enter into a sacred land. From there we went, singing in procession with a big candle lighting the way, to a room devoted to prayer. Here each Sister lit a candle, and together we translated the title of the Chapter into liturgy, through songs, the words of Mother Frances and various symbols related to life.
 
The work began with a day-long retreat guided by Ms. Inge Metzmacher that focused on chapter 15 of the Acts of the Apostles. This heart of this chapter is the first Council of Jerusalem, and Ms. Metzmacher discussed the characteristic of some figures -- Peter, Paul, James and Barnabas – and highlighting examples of how these different personalities were able to work together.

rmf cap aachen 04Sr. Katharina Maria Finken, the outgoing Superior General, presented some important events that brought big changes in the Church, in the World and in the Congregation, in the past six years. Then the Chapter’s participants examined some proposals that had already been the object of work and reflection in all the communities as they prepared for the Chapter, which greatly facilitated matters. There was a spirit of listening and of dialogue that enabled all to proceed peacefully with work, discernment and decision.

In the second session, the Sisters elected Sr. Martha as the new General Superior, and the various members of her Council. One very intense and significant moment was when Chapter participants shared the ‘fruits’ ripened during this Chapter. The Sisters showed great confidence that “God is with us on our journey towards the future.” Mother Frances guides us with her words and her example.

rmf cap aachen 08Her charism remains for us a precious heritage together with the love for the poor, common prayer and mutual love which give us strength and joy as we look to the future. The Chapter concluded with drafting the final document which also incorporated the Sisters future prospects.

In the week between the two sessions of the Chapter, some of the Sisters accompanied us as we visited some of the small communities. It was a beautiful experience of fraternity and sharing with the Sisters. 

Even the outgoing Superior General, Sr. Katharina Maria, found some time to be with us and joined us in a few visits. In every community, the sisters received us with great warmth. We felt affirmed to see the life of Mother Frances “continuing to be'' in the lives of many of the elderly and sick sisters.

rmf cap aachen 03We were at the bedside of some of them and this gave us a great sense of peace and trust. It touched our heart to see that, despite their advanced age and the lack of new vocations, our sisters still felt joy and hope. We felt as one family with these daughters of Mother Frances!

Everything in life is a gift, but there are moments when we receive precious and unexpected gifts: For me, this was the journey to Germany, to the mother house. Going back to the home of Mother Frances and to the places of our origin renewed my joy and enthusiasm for the grace of the Charism …which we all have received as a gift.

Several times I heard Mother Frances’ words echoing: "Go, dear sisters, many are waiting for our help ... take care of....". What a strength! How real! What a good purpose in life! I felt the need to keep this gift alive, so simple and humble -- but sparking to life in the places we live and with the people we meet. The charism is a seed of life that brings healing and salvation; we allow it to lie dormant within us.

rmf cap aachen 02“Participating in the General Chapter of our Sister Congregation, allowed me to see a different way of incarnating the Charism of Mother Frances today. I saw their beautiful testimony of what it means to overcome an obstacle or a limit, to have the courage and audacity to continue. Life never cease to surprise us. "
Sr. Maria Francesca

"First of all, I thank the Lord who allowed me to have the enriching experience of attending the General Chapter of the SPSF. I also thank the leadership of our Congregation, and all the sisters who joined us in prayer. Sr. Maria Francesca and I followed the footsteps of Mother Frances for three weeks -- an experience that enriched me. Those were moments were filled with emotion, joy, sharing and fraternal love. This Chapter has been a time of healing for me.
I found community with sisters who live in simplicity, sharing in the spirit of Mother Frances.

rmf cap aachen 07I was fascinated by the prayer, the silence, listening to the word of God, working and living community life. The Sisters’ faith in God and their courage to continue to give of themselves despite the weight of years, taught me a lot. I returned with a heart filled with gratitude --for the Sisters who saw to my well-being, and for the Chapter, which was held in peace and harmony as the Sisters addressed their new future. May Mother Frances continue to walk with our two Sister Congregations, and may her charism expand to the whole world.”
Sr Rose

By Sr. Rose Ndong, SFP and Sr. Maria Francesca Musumeci, SFP

Published: November 22, 2016