Dear SFCCs because in a few days time our sisters will hold a second international assembly within a years time (six months ago Chicago–now Manila, The Philippines) —-we have never had more than one a year— I have prepared a report for our website conversations section and wish to share it with you, as followup to my conversation in July 2018, when I shared one or more of these developments with you.
Still attempting to touch ground after the great Pentecost Spirit winds sweeping us in Spain, Portugal and the Benelux off our feet! The story continued into Fall and into Advent with even more excitement surrounding the Begijnhof offer in Brugge, Belgium, as well as very recently in Advent, the Roosenberg Abbey, near Gent.
Recall at the assembly 2001 here in The Netherlands, that those of us here then present travelled by tour busses to Lier and to Louvain to tour the Beguinages especially, as sociologists liken our SFCC to the movement back when, as a modern variation today.
The head of the Beguinage retreat centre in Brugges read all about us on our website, thanks to our Spanish sisters Magda and Carmen, googled me and my various projects and foundations, and others of us. This led to the invitation from them to our SFCCs to move into that Beguinage: “you SFCCs are the modern Beguines…YOU need to be here!” The Benedictines there are alas decreasing in number through old age, illnesses and decline. They do not want the RC church to take over the Begijnhof, nor a projectdeveloper….at most the city with a museum plan there, if all else fails.
After a few trips back and forth to Brugge with, among others, our affiliates, Monique de Jong, Ineke de Vlieger and our supportive Martine de Lange, and our two becoming process sisters from Spain, Magda and Carmen (in december 2018 covenanted with us) we all met with the teams in Brugge. A wonderfully enthousiastic young bishop and other supporters welcomed us.
Carmen and Magdalena, in total dedication and trust in the RUAH, and with the help of their many dear friends of faith in Spain, packed up and moved to Louvain, Belgium, to prepare there in language and culture for the promising plans in Brugge.
The support also there from the WCCM (World Center for Christian Meditation) which clicked with us immediately and offered to support us in coordination with many projectleaders together; so much is able to be done at that internationally visited and loved Beguinage in Brugges—which, otherwise, will be sold, no longer with the spiritually based foundation of Saint Begga and her Begijn sisters. The Benedictine sisters there were ‘saved’ if we would come and breathe life into the place! They ‘wondered where we, SFCC, have been all their lives…’ this is a phrase we are hearing more often in these times…..very exciting!
YET, the story continues….too many points to mention here (such as building rennovations necessary due to new laws re fire prevention at the Begijnhof Brugge…and there were businessmen ready to assist with the plans in a large team….)
We SFCCs gave the plan time, and rested in the Spirit leading us……suddenly, amidst all this, along came a new venue, through the very trustworthy head of the WCCM Belgium, which led us to the Franciscan sisters who are in the same ‘boat’ near Gent, at the architecturally famous Roosenberg Abbey (Waasmunster) Belgium.
Shortly before we received clarity re Brugge, we decided to take a look at and visit the Roosenberg Abbey and make contact with the community there (who, since recently, have become very dear to us as well as their dedicated priest companion/supporter there). Again, after several visits of Carmen and Magda, and recently my own visit together with them there, and our extensive meetings re also this project, suddenly the new regulation inspections re fire safety and asbestus within buildings etc.etc. fell upon the community there as a very expensive rennovation project, for which they have found funding and support……
Important in the above and in this conversation for all of us, is that we have all three realised a very important SFCC point. Indeed, a point that is perhaps relevant to the Manila Assembly in januari 2019 as well, especially with the reception of more sisters into our community who have also made brave leaps of faith to follow the RUAH and charism of our very special SFCC congregation.
The prospect of returning with some of our SFCCs and affiliated dedicated supporters to the thousand year old roots of the courageous the Beguine sisters and their handbuilt beguinages, however appealing, exciting, enterprising and nostalgic, sent a large flame up in the middle of the night of my last day together with Carmen and Magda in Louvain. They too had a similar meditation and conclusion: We, as SFCC, do not anchor ourselves– and certainly not our vision and mission– in a building, no matter how beloved the building, the place and it’s history be! Both projects, Brugge and Gent, would see us bound to the preservation of a (beloved) set of buildings, instead of to the vision of our mission within us, which unfolds and manifests itself here and now, in, around and through each one us where we live and work, with all our time, talent and possessions, in the midst of our ‘being about this work of reconciliation'(St, Paul).
So wondrous in this is that whilst typing now, at the computer of one of our many care facilities where I work as pastor and spiritual counsellor, a young colleague was working nearby to where I am seated, unpacking boxes for our dear elderly and ill residents. I asked her a moment ago how it feels for her to work for an hour unpacking all the delivery boxes! “Oh, I love my work, and I know for whom I am unpacking these boxes: our dear elders living here, and it is for them that I gladly do this work.”
I shared with her about my writing to all of you now, and she lit up with joy at the vision of our SFCC, upon hearing my brief explanation. “Super, Teresa, this makes my day, because I, too, attempt to live that vision in my own little way. Changing the world begins with me and my disposition, indeed, wherever I live and work”.
Dear SFCC family, In the past 10 months alone, I have heard repeatedly, from young people living in different countries, that “the world cannot continue as it is. Change must come. Change begins with me: my thoughts, words and deeds. Peace begins here and now with me, as an instrument thereof, where I live and work, with all my time and talent”.
This indeed–with all due respect–is not contained in a tabernacle, nor in a church, temple nor beguinage, however beloved! We are united together to heal and fill hearts and souls — not buildings. Our story in europe continues, as we assist Magda and Carmen with project locations in Louvain and elsewhere in the Benelux, but our hearts are liberated anew with the insights of the last six months of RUAH, insights at work around and within us!
Love from across the oceans at the sea in Egmond aan Zee your sister and RCC in The Netherlands