No gatherings were possible this year; no participation in the usual Eucharistic celebration; no conversations over little sandwiches...the pandemic made us celebrate this Day in a different manner, and we met the challenge!
Donatella Fiorani - Office for Consecrated Life, Archdiocese of Montreal
Instead of a single day, we chose to do it in three stages.
First stage. Via the Zoom platform, we met in January in four sub-group encounters, with about 60 people from 35 different groups from Consecrated Life. It was a great joy for us all to meet so many people, even if it was virtual!
In these four meetings, we discussed the challenges we face in our efforts to achieve a missionary shift and in our efforts to work together in concrete ways.
Second stage. On February 2, Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, our Archbishop, Christian Lépine, celebrated a Mass broadcast by Salt and Light. Once again we met – yes, in a different way, but all together - to thank God for the gift of the call, to pray for all the members of Consecrated Life living and, in particular, for all those who died during the past year.
Third stage. On Saturday, February 6, everyone was in attendance. The title we chose for this meeting: "In the same boat,…all of us called to row together," was intended to underscore the synodal dimension and the commitment of the people of Consecrated Life to the "missionary shift" alongside the other actors of our Archdiocese. In the (once again virtual) company of 85 participants, along with Archbishop Lépine and his auxiliary, Bishop Faubert, we presented the four "key ideas" that emerged from our meetings in January, followed by concrete proposals:
- To go to the existential peripheries, that is to say, where the sick and the elderly and the lonely are: outside, but also within our respective groups. With that purpose, "draw near, but in a different way," by developing and implementing all means of communication possible to establish personal contacts but also to hold group meetings.
- Presence and assistance for families, supporting their efforts to face the challenges of the pandemic, accompanying them in their journey of faith, not only in words, but through the testimony of our lives.
- Evangelization before Sacramentalization. This question directly concerns our pastoral activities and reminds us to prioritize the encounter with Jesus before we begin teaching.
- Uniting our strengths and opening new paths. This phrase expresses the desire to get to know one another better within our local Church in order to develop stronger collaborative relationships and to offer a witness of unity. At the same time, it also expresses the desire to be open to the outside world in order to develop more collaborative relationships with all who work for good, regardless of their faith.
During the second part of the meeting, the participants met in small discussion groups and reflected further on these topics, supplying their own contributions.
Finally, our Bishops took the floor, emphasizing the major points to advance as we fulfil the desire for the missionary shift. Their suggestions are of great value in this journey forwards which we began together that Day.
The meeting was not lacking in touches of beauty and harmony: in fact, we were able to play two songs from the magnificent video prepared by the CRC for this day, and we left accompanied by the strains of the song: "May the road rise to meet you."
We didn't get to enjoy the little sandwiches this time, but we still nourished our minds and our souls!