Here in Argentina all our sisters in the Congregation under 55 years old are together in community to reflect, study, pray and share with one another. We are here in the parish of Santa Cruz, here where sisters from Ireland came in the 1960s to begin a mission in Argentina. It is a time of grace where the needs of our mission as Dominican women is central.
You are all very welcome to this special place, the parish of Santa Cruz, Buenos Aires, the parish that the sisters from Galway came in 1968. This is very significant that we are having the Encuentro here in this sacred place.
You also are special, as a group of young women from Argentina, South Africa and Ireland. It is a privilege for you to come together, to re establish ties of friendship, to make new ones and to find ways to be of support to one another now and in the years ahead.
Another historic point is that you are in Buenos Aires, the city and country of our new Pope Francis. Pope Francis who has given a new hope to us.
Why come together? What is the reason for this Encuentro? The reason is Mission and it is a facet of the Congregations study of Mission during the last year. The mission to proclaim and preach the gospel within the Dominican tradition of the Congregation. Mission is not isolated from the other elements of our Dominican common life, prayer, study, and community life.
Mission isolated from these elements can be my work only, my career. It may have nothing to do with being sent by the community, the region or Congregation.
When I was in Rome in May, Pope Francis spoke to the women religious and he urged us to be” Madres “in and to our world. We are called to be generative, to empower ourselves and others, to affirm others in their growth and contribution. As women we are called and needed to use our feminine gifts of nurture, tolerance, patience and compassion.
I brought with me two images of St Dominic. One of Dominic as a man of prayer, a man who took time to reflect, a contemplative. Those of you who have been to the sleepy village of Fanjeaux, France know that Dominic had to wait many years before his dream became a reality.
For you I think prayer and reflection are so important. That fidelity to personal and common prayer will give you the support you need in elderly communities, in a violent and technological world. It is the contemplative dimension that will give you the support that may find lacking in some of our communities. I think that I and my peers had more inbuilt supports in our day, in our more structured way of life and the practice of silence.
The other image of Dominic is of Dominic on the road, Dominic being mobile for mission, on the road, sending out companions in imitation of him. Dominic showing an urgency, a passion to give a word of hope, faith, light in a world which was immersed in ignorance and violence.
You are called in your day to be like Dominic, to be a light in the many darknesses of our world and church.
Dominic was at the heart of the church. He had his struggles with the church of his day. He was Lumen Ecclesia. Our mission is as members of a broken church we are not outside the church but part of the church. We are women in the church and for many of us, it can be painful but here too is where we can be generative and call on our creativity and compassion in order that we might bring about a church where all are welcome, where all are treated with dignity and equality. We are called as Meister Eckart said ” to give birth to Christ daily”.
You are all gifted and called to live and practise community, study, contemplation and mission.
This year as you know in preparation for the 800 years celebration of the Order, the theme is :Mary contemplation of the word and preaching.
Argentina holds up for us the importance of Mary as Madre, Mother. Likewise Vatican 11 placed Mary in the document on the Church,and proclaimed her mother of the church.
We place our meeting under the protection of Mary, Mother of the Church and Protector of the Order.
Sister Helen Mary Harmey, OP