Enlarging our Tent to Welcome People
“Enlarge the space of your tent. Spread out your tent cloth unsparingly. Lengthen your ropes/cords. Make firm your pegs” (Is 54:2).
The Continental Document of Synodality has elaborated on the biblical symbol of the tent as place of meeting, communion and mission. As we celebrate the feast of foundation of our congregation on 8 December, let us together with the Church, meditate on the imagery of the tent.
Our Congregation will be 133 years of its foundation. Starting with a tent of four SSpS, it quickly enlarged and stretched to invite more persons. The initial years mirrored a ten-like existence. Today this tent holds 2087 Sisters (November 2022). We built more tents in other countries and in other areas of need. We invited people to enter our tent, and we are invited to enter other people’s tents. Each one of us as SSpS entered this tent sometime in our personal history, and journeyed on with its mission and charism.
We continued to stretch our tent. More recent examples of stretching are aplenty. When Solidarity with South Sudan started, our congregation was one of the first ones to send sisters and resources. In Yei, spreading out the tent clothes even came at the cost of the precious life of Sr. Veronika Rácková.
When the UISG Migrant Project started in Sicily, our congregation was one of the first ones to respond with finance and contact personnel. Similarly, we enlarged our tents to unknown territories to respond bravely to migrant’s needs in Greece and Uganda.
We acted promptly to help the war-inflicted Ukraine and came to the rescue of people fleeing conflict. We spread out the tent of our house to welcome refugees from different parts of the world. We pitched our tent wherever a genuine need was sensed and in territories unknown.
Expanding our tent to include peoples of other languages and cultures, we pioneered in the topic of interculturality, and together with the SVD, invited congregations to stretch out their tents. We proved to the world, as a congregation of about fifty nationalities, that it is possible to live and work together. We are now enlarging our tent to embrace our Congolese brothers and sisters through our missionary presence and ministry. There still more to do!
The ten imagery is extremely relevant to our mission among people. ‘Enlarging our tent’ is at heart of the missionary identity and activity. This tent is a place of communion, a place of participation and a foundation for mission.
Our congregation is a tent, called to stretch out and called to move, inviting as we go, peoples of all faiths and diverse needs to join us on our journey. It will be crucial to acquire a searching and questioning heart to widen the scope of our concern, to test our own practice of hospitality in order to discern how and where we are called to incarnate love in today’s global context.
As we stand at the threshold of the 134th Foundation Day of our congregation, let us ask:
How is our spirituality and charism being stretched and enlarged today?
Who are the people still outside of our tent?
How does the exhortation “Enlarge the tent cloths”, “Lengthen the cords”. “Hold firm the pegs” challenges us as a Congregation?