How does a tiny province with 24 Sisters from 7 different countries, sharing 5 different languages, and living in two houses separated by 900 kilometers, celebrate a Provincial Chapter? Our answer is that, inspired by the example of the first Sisters in this mission who did not give up in the face of difficulties, we are united in one mission to make Jesus, the Word, known and loved.
Our Chapter preparations began, like the rest of our Sisters in the Canossian world, praying for the grace of light and guidance for the General Chapter and for the Provincial Chapters/Assemblies of our Sisters worldwide. Once we received the new Directory (still without full Japanese translation) two animation sessions for consultation with all the Sisters, were planned and carried out despite some last-minute changes due to Covid. Flexibility is one of the positives of being a small province! The prayer and sacrifices, especially of our sick and elderly Sisters intensified.
With necessary translations done and preparations complete, the Chapter opened in Tokyo on February 10th. as planned, with 10 delegate Sisters and one Sister (preparing to make her final vows in March) as an Observer. At the opening Votive Mass of the Holy Spirit (celebrated by Fr. Ishida (Redemptorist) we were joined in person by the Sisters of the Tokyo community and the Sisters of Omuta in spirit.
At the Offertory, the Bible was brought to the altar and each
Delegate offered a lighted candle as a symbol of the light of
the Holy Spirit we will receive and share during these days.
Other symbols were also brought to the altar: flowers to represent our present apostolic activities which have grown from the seeds of the Gospel planted over the years and the way they have grown and bloomed, a sprouting plant symbolizing hope for the future, and a pot with fresh earth and a small garden rake symbolizing our readiness to work together with our collaborators to cultivate new ground in new forms of evangelization in Japan.
The following days were intense but, supported by the prayers and sacrifices of our Sisters, we worked in groups and as a whole assembly, in an atmosphere of hope and serene collaboration.
The Word of God in the liturgy of each day was always food for thought and light on our journey.
On February 16th, after some last-minute touches to translations and other details, we were able to close our Provincial Chapter and sign the Resolutions and Statutes which we believe are the fruit, not merely of our discussions and deliberations, but of the prayers of and sacrifices of all our Sisters, and the encouragement and trust we have received from Mother General and her Council. With hearts full of gratitude and hope we planted symbolic new seeds and sang the Te Deum, asking for the Lord’s blessing as the Provincial Chapter ended and the new stage in our journey as a Province begins.