Meeting of the International Commission of Nuns – Bologna 2016

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Meeting of the International Commission of Nuns – Bologna 2016
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From the 31st of July to the 7th of August, the members of the International Commission of Nuns of the Order, together with our Promoter, fr Cesar Valero gathered in Bologna for our annual meeting. This years meeting was unique because it is the Jubilee year of the Order and the fact that the meeting was held in the city of Bologna, at the feet of our father Dominic whose remains lies in a beautiful 13th century marble tomb crafted by Nicola Pisano in the Patriarchal Basilica of Bologna.

We gathered once again to share what we have been doing in the different regions of the world where the 216 Dominican monasteries are located, where the nuns endeavour to live their monastic life and realize their mission of preaching through prayers, liturgy and fraternal sharing. We shared on our encounter with different groups who come to share Lectio Divina with us. These are different lay fraternities and many other local groups who in one way or the other are part of the Dominican family. We cannot forget that the nuns were the first in the mind and heart of St Dominic and therefore, the Order must take, in one way or the other, our monasteries as a reference point for prayer itself and also for preaching. 

This year’s meeting has been very special because of the place and the circumstances – the Jubilee year and the city of Bologna. At the meeting, we reviewed the text on formation and also shared on the new Apostolic Constitution Vultum Dei Quaerere on women’s contemplative life and all the good it offers. We tried to clarify some specific points which are peculiar to us; formation, decomissioning, federations, the link with the brothers etc. In this sharing, we discovered once again the joy of belonging to the Order of Preachers and felt the unity and commuion of being in a large family with our brothers, active sisters and the laity.

We were able to share a day with the Maste of the Order, fr Bruno Cadoré during which we revealed all we have discovered in our sharing and our desire to forge ahead in our task. Surely, our desire is to help ourselves, to help the MO as a Commission on all matters concerning nuns and to ask for his help in return, among other things. With satisfaction, we talked about how our Order has pioneered some of the things recommended in the Apostolic Constitution through the Commission.

We spent the afternoon with our brothers gathered at the General Chapter of Bologna and shared with them our work, conerns and desires. It was joyful to be with them and to share the vespers and dinner and most importantly, the Dominican fraternity. The brothers expressed their interest in our affairs and that of our communities and their desire to collaborate with us on certain areas of concerns like vocation promotion and lay fraternities. Our message was clear: we (the nuns) feel we are a fundamental part of the mission of the Order, so you can count on us

 

So that all will be fulfilled, on the 4th of August, we all attended a private audience with the Holy Father and it was a great joy and surprise to us all. This is because none of us ever thought that we could all be together as a family in the company of the Pope. I think he was happy to have us and to feel the bond we share as a family. In the evening of the same day, we had the solemn Eucharist at the tomb of our father Dominic. We celebrated together with Archbishop Matteo Zuppi of Bologna and this brought a unique and exceptional day to a close, a day that we will never forget.

Again, this year is special because it is the last year of this Commission which is renewed every three years to ensure change and continuity. These intense days were lived and shared with the sisters of Castelbolognese and the Dominican Sisters of Blessed Imelda who welcomed us warmly in their houses.

The communion among the various branches of the Order is a special and unique point of reference and that has been the experience of these intense days. We have shared many things at the level of the Order, most especially ourselves and our concerns as servants of the Word, at the service of the preaching of mercy and compassion.

 

(20 August 2016)