The Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions (RNDMs) have recently opened an International Formation Centre in Davao on the island of Mindanao in the Southern Philippines. The aim of the centre is to provide Sisters preparing to make final vows with an opportunity to prepare themselves well for such an important step in their lives.
The centre was blessed and opened in October 2006 and one of the first participants in the six-month programme is Helen O’Sullivan RNDM from Lower Hutt. The group of 16 have called themselves the “Trailblazers” because they are setting a new trail for the RNDMs in the lived expression of internationality.
Helen (right with Josephine from Kenya) is the sole New Zealander with the other 15 Trailblazers coming from India, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Kenya. But together they represent 10 different cultural groupings. In class they study their constitutions, missiology and vowed life, but they have also explored the enneagram, human growth and sexuality, creation spirituality, and taken part in a mission immersion experience.
However, the main learnings take place in the everyday living together of 10 cultures understanding and coping with differences in food, language, prayer styles, liturgical dances, cultural ways of being, history – you could say that these casual and informal sharings are more important in helping to live together as a culturally diverse group.
The blessings are many in that, through interacting with each other around the table over a cup of coffee or tea, cultures and cultural stories are being shared. With our world so intolerant towards cultural diversity we are witnessing by our very lives the presence of God in each and every person.
(Helen will make her final vows on 26 May 2007 – please pray for her and her companions as they make their final commitment to God and the Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions.