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During the first two weeks of October, the Pre-Chapter Assemblies of the Sisters Hospitallers were held in their various provinces, events that are part of the first and second phases of the chapter process.

The Pre-Chapter Assemblies are the meetings prior to the General Chapter, in which the Chapter Delegates who will participate in this meeting are elected.

The celebration of the General Chapter is very important in our Congregation, since it marks the path to follow for the next 6 years, and affects not only the religious life of the Sisters, but also the entire hospitaller work of the centers.

Although our hospitaller charism has not changed over these 142 years, we must keep ourselves constantly updated. That is to say, our mission continues to be to care for and heal the most vulnerable in a holistic sense, especially those who suffer for psychological reasons. However, times and needs change, and we must be alert to offer a full service.

What the Pre-Chapter Assemblies consist of

The Assemblies begin with a spiritual retreat, which proposes an in-depth study of the theme of the XXII General Chapter: "Clothe yourselves with bowels of mercy" (Col. 3:12), through texts on Charism and Spirituality. The first deals with an operative charity and mercy, inspired by the figure of the Good Samaritan (Lk 10:33-42). The second deals with the sick as the privileged recipient of hospitaller love and mercy at the Last Judgment (Mt 25:40-45).

The objectives foreseen in the Pre-Chapter Assemblies are the elaboration of a document that gathers the important points to be discussed at the XXII General Chapter, to be held in Rome in April/May 2024. From what is meditated, prayed, discerned and shared in the Assembly of each province of the Congregation, a document with the conclusions of the Assembly is defined for each province.

Pre-Chapter Assembly in each province

The Pre-Chapter Assembly in the Province of Latin America was held September 28-29 in São Paulo, Brazil, with the assistance of the provincial government, provincial leadership, superiors and managers. The annual meeting of superiors and managers was held from the 25th to the 27th.

Previous work was done in the centers in preparation for Chapter XXII, which was brought to the Assembly by the managers of the centers; under the guidance of Father Victor Martinez, SJ, discernment was carried out based on the guide with guiding questions.

From October 2 to 6, the Province of Italy held its Assembly at the Provincial House in Rome, Via Urbisaglia, which was presided over by the Provincial Superior, Sr. María Asunción Riopedre, and directed by Sr. Blanca Flor Guerrero, General Councilor.

From October 2 to 6, the Province of England held its Assembly at Addlestone House (Surrey), which began with a reflection by Fr. Theophilus Nyamali OCD. In addition, Sr. María Lourdes Sanz, Provincial Superior England, addressed a greeting to the entire Assembly.

Towards the end of the Assembly, the Sisters made a pilgrimage to Aylesford (Kent), where the Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is located and where the patronage of the province is. Praying the Rosary, the Sisters placed the needs of the English province in Mary's hands. In addition, they did not fail to pray for peace in the world and for suffering humanity.

The Vietnam Assembly was held from October 2-5, 2023 at the Community of St. Benedict Menni (Chu Hai), the seat of the Vice-Province.

Fourteen sisters participated, who listened to the invitation of the Superior General through Circular No. 64 related to the process towards the General Chapter. In addition, feeling blessed and renewed since the revision and renewal of the Constitutions, the sisters of the Vice-Province reflected on the beauty of the Hospitaller consecrated life, applying and following the motto of the General Chapter: "Clothe yourselves with bowels of mercy", an invariant beauty that makes the Hospitaller Sisters at the service of the wounded world, especially the poorest, most vulnerable and excluded human beings.

After this reflection in discernment and listening with the method of synodality under the action of the Holy Spirit, the Vice-Province of Vietnam concluded the Assembly by electing the sisters who will participate in the XXII General Chapter.

From October 6 to 10, the Province of Portugal held its Pre-Chapter Assembly in Casa de Saúde da Idanha. This group of reflection had the participation of 20 Sisters, representatives of the whole reality of the province, of the communities of the continent, of the islands and of the missionary presence in Angola and Mozambique. On Monday, October 9, 42 collaborators from different areas of the 12 centers joined the group.

The Assembly opened with a greeting from Sr. Sílvia Moreira, Provincial Superior, who challenged them to live these days with an attitude of trust and listening, and above all of seeking the will of God.

From October 7 to 10, the Province of Spain held its Pre-Chapter Assembly in Palencia (Provincial Formation Center).

It was an Assembly in which the planned objectives were achieved. On the one hand, the elaboration of a document that gathers the lines of force that will be taken to the XXII General Chapter. Some lines of force that have been elaborated from what has been gathered in the 51 work groups that have been organized in the different centers. The sisters are especially grateful for the participation of the collaborators in this Assembly, for accompanying them in the decisions for the future. 30 professionals who represented their centers took part in this important meeting.

From October 5 to 8, the Pre-Chapter Assembly of the Philippines was held in New Manila, in the Delegation's Community-House. Thirteen sisters from the province were present. Sr. Juliana Pedro, Delegate and President of the Assembly, gave the opening message. This was followed by the retreat, which was led by Fr. Archie Magarao, Sch.P.

In the Province of France, the Pre-Chapter Assembly was held October 9-14 in Paris, in which 17 sisters participated.

The meeting began with a spiritual preparation led by Father Podvin, a priest of the Diocese of Lille. This was followed by a day of deepening and personal reflection on the document "Embracing our vulnerability and its transforming potential on the synodal journey". The questionnaire proposed by Father Podvin offered a lucid look at our own fragilities, those of the Congregation, those of our communities and those of the world. The response to the assembly was extremely rich, inviting them to commit themselves to interior transformation, which is a journey of maturation, to be daring and to recognize the presence of God in their lives and in their hospitaller mission.

The meeting also continued on the theme of the work related to the XXII General Chapter. The strengths and weaknesses of the communities in France and Africa were discussed. Questions related to social insurance and income-generating activities in the communities of Africa were also addressed. The assembly concluded with the election of the three corresponding delegates and four alternates and the voting of proposals for the General Chapter and a day of pilgrimage to Issoudun, followed by a visit to Orleans.

From the Sisters Hospitallers, we celebrate this time of meeting, reflection and prayer to make this journey towards the General Chapter a time of grace, a"new Pentecost" that revives in us the spirit of the Founders. The Chapter process converts and transforms us, making us "witnesses of hope and of God's closeness to the suffering world of today."

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