20171028 095546“On the path you move, you don’t build a house,” shared Sr. Petra Urietti, a leader describing the emerging efforts in Italy to address the needs of refugees. This phrase seemed to capture the mood of the Global Coordinating Group this year when they met at the International Center.  Together we reflected on an article written by Sr. Carmen Shamut, the President of UISG entitled “Apostolic Religious Llife Looks at the Future. Vision and Pathways.”

20171028 114805There is a sense that the Global Sisters of St. Joseph are coming together in a new way.  There is an energy that unites us.  We are not building houses but are actively participating in a movement. Emerging throughout our time together was the verbalized awareness of the importance of our charism for this moment in history, the growing significance of the lay people who share our commitment to spreading the charism, our commitment to the environment and those most marginalized.

12 7 17Recognizing the importance of intercultural living for our future, several congregations are creating these communities around the globe, to enhance our understanding of what this truly means to live interculturally in homes in migrant neighborhoods.  The sisters struggle as the neighbors do with learning new languages (sometimes they are speaking 3 or 4 languages in their local community), differing cultures and all that goes with living outside one’s primary culture, and building bonds and perhaps showing us the way to bridge polarities that are tearing our world apart. The Italian Federation is exploring the idea of an intercongregagational, even inter-Federation house in Amazonia where we would be neighbors first and then figure out what projects to collaborate on with the neighbors.

So many congregations and federations are doing work with refugees.  In Canada, they support families as they adjust to their new culture.  In Italy a project provides support for women coming from Africa or South America with children.  The sisters provide day care while the women are attending classes in Italian, cooking and sewing, or caring for elderly.  These helpful skills prepare them for employment in Italy.  Two to three sisters and 30 to 40 volunteers make this happen.  Sr. Gemma said, “We discern what the society needs and create a space for sister and brother hood that opens a space for everybody.” Many sisters in the US are doing tremendous work in helping refugees resettle, helping with legal work, and the advocacy needed to ensure that our laws are amended to be consistent with basic human rights and our international obligations.  The French Federation has been living among immigrant communities for a long time and is planning to open a new house in Paris for this purpose.  These efforts are so consistent with our early history.  We are seeing a need, and it is occurring all over the world, and in little ways, we are joining with our neighbors to help our neighbors.