The SSpS Sisters around the World – Continental Panel
January 15, 2022
We started the day with the celebration of the Mass in honor of Saint Arnold Janssen, remembering that “there is no better way to celebrate our founder than to be gathered from so many countries and nationalities.”
It was providential that the day of the Feast of St. Arnold was dedicated to the presentation of each of the Continents where the Congregation is present, with the diversity of cultures and missionary experiences, but also with the challenges that the sisters face.
Here we briefly bring some elements of the panel presented by the continental teams.
Mission in Africa
Our Congregation is present in 10 countries in Africa: Angola, Benin, Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique, South Africa, Togo, Uganda, and Zambia. We have only one province, Ghana, and six regions in terms of organization. One of the main characteristics is multiculturalism and the variety of languages in the same country.
The continental team mentioned many trends, but it is possible to highlight that “living in international communities is a witness of unity amid political and ethnical conflicts. Diversity, when respected, can give rise to out-of-the-box thinking”.
For the sisters, there are many challenges such as:
- Political and economic instability leads to violence (even wars), violation of fundamental human rights, and a drastic increase in unemployment and poverty.
- Few native vocations.
- Not enough training and ongoing formation of our lay mission partners will prepare them to take over and continue our ministries.
- Struggle for financial sustainability.
Another point that appears is the great need of the people, the small number of sisters to attend to the mission, and the lack of resources. On the other hand, there is a close collaboration with the laity that the sisters consider necessary in carrying out the mission and very much appreciated.
Mission in Europe
The SSpS sisters in Europe reflect on transformation and look for new ways to reorganize themselves. At the moment are six provinces and three regions plus the General House in Rome. We have a missionary presence in 15 countries: Austria, England, Ireland, Germany, Italy, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Netherlands, Slovakia, Romania, Poland, Russia, Ukraine, and the Czech Republic.
Among the main characteristics of the sisters on the European continent, they pointed out the focus on mission, the richness of multiculturalism, the collaboration between provinces/regions, the use of technology for the mission, the option for refugees, migrants, the marginalized, and the effort to care for creation.
There are also many situations such as secularism and the loss of credibility by the church, xenophobia, fear of refugees, migrants and those who are different, fundamentalist Christian views, and others that challenge the sisters to give a missionary response.
Mission in the Americas
We are present in North America, Central America, and South America, organized in 8 provinces and three regions present in the following countries: Argentina (3 provinces), Bolivia, Brazil (2 provinces), Chile, Cuba, Ecuador, United States, Mexico, Paraguay, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts, and Jamaica.
The Sisters of the Americas raised two essential needs: restructuring the provinces and regions and working with the laity in an equal, inclusive and trusting relationship, sharing the common mission.
For restructuring, they spoke of sharing human and economic resources and of a shift to a holistic and open-minded mentality towards the current social, political, economic, and ecclesial reality in a more synodal and dynamic way.
They also stressed the urgency of offering formation to the laity from our spirituality and charism because they are in our ranks as our outstretched arms in the mission.
Mission in Asia-Pacific (ASPAC)
ASPAC includes all the 17 provinces and one region of Asia and the two provinces of Oceania. The sisters are distributed in the following countries: Australia, Papua New Guinea, India (4 provinces), Indonesia (5 provinces), Japan, South Korea, Philippines (2 provinces), Taiwan and East Timor. In Asia-Pacific, we have a large number of sisters, 1526 (December of 2020), which represents 53% of all Congregation.
During the panel, the sisters highlighted the increasing collaboration and networking for the mission with religious congregations, church institutions, laypeople, people of different faiths, professionals and experts, and government groups.
They presented the variety of ministries and the challenges they have, especially with the proliferation of Human Rights violations and the social problems, violence, human trafficking, online sex abuse, child abuse at home, religious intolerance, the gap between the rich and the poor, corruption, injustice, hostility, destruction of the environment, deforestation and many others.
The capitular members were invited to reflect on the realities of the continents and all reports and information shared with them to have a global vision of the Congregation and to think where the Holy Spirit wants to guide us in the future.