Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Global Coordinating Group Meeting in Switzerland

For four days I participated in the Global Coordinating Group meeting in a little town outside of Geneva, Switzerland called Tour de Peilz.  It was a fascinating experience to attend a meeting with Sisters of St. Joseph from across the globe. 

During the meeting we spoke in four languages, French, English, Italian and Spanish.  We had two translators and a few of the sisters assisted.  If the Italian sister spoke, she either spoke in Spanish which was translated into English or in Italian which was translated into French.  Then it would get translated again into the other languages. 

I have been studying French in the evenings and on weekends for about two months which essentially means I can say good morning, please, thank you and “I don’t understand what you said.”  However, my Spanish which was never good has been coming back.  One day I got really bold and said something to a group of Spanish speaking sisters.  Griselda Martinez Morales, the Sisters of St. Joseph representative at the United Nations understood what I said even though no one else did so she translated my Spanish into Spanish.  Although motivated before, I am now very committed to trying to become conversational in French and Spanish.

This is the fourth meeting of the Global Coordinating Group (GCG).  Their vision statement is:  In the spirit of our Founder and Co-Foundresses, we leaders of the four Federations: Italian, United States, Canadian, and French, and of the Congregations of Lyon, Annecy, Chambery, and Argentina, in response to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, wholeheartedly agree to accompany the unfolding and emerging global relationships as we coordinate new and diverse expressions of our CSSJ mission and charism.  Essentially we companion, facilitate and accompany the works that we try to accomplish at a global level.  This includes our Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) delegation at the United Nations, our global work for peace and justice, our international center and our global communications.

As a group we struggle with the language and cultural issues that challenge us as we try to build these bonds to work together.  This year we have come to some decisions that will strengthen our work together. We will work for further clarification among the Federations regarding how we can support and engage with our UN representatives. 

We have developed a new process for publishing our “Together in Mission” publication so that we can more quickly and frequently get the news out about what sisters are doing around the globe and do it in at least 6 languages, adding Portuguese and Scandinavian  to the ones I mentioned earlier.  We affirmed the plan of the Justice and Peace International Commission to conduct their work in language groups with a coordinating committee to integrate the work of each language group.  We await the results of the work of the International Center Board as it continues to try to support the work of the center.

So that is a synopsis of the meeting…on to the fun part.  We stayed in a beautiful hotel owned by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Annecy right on Lake Geneva.  As you will see in the pictures below, it is lovely. The hotel is property that they previously owned and used but when significant renovations were needed, a non-profit that works with the sisters recommended this renovation and conversion to a hotel. The non-profit manages the hotel. They grow many of their own vegetables right on the property and have an arrangement with a local vintner to produce their own label wines.  We had excellent three course meals for lunch and dinner.  Each meal lasted about two hours as we really dined and got to know one another better- always a challenge in so many languages.  We did have time for walks along the lake and part of one afternoon for site-seeing in nearby towns. 
It was an honor to represent the US Federation and describe our wonderful event this summer.  I am grateful for the opportunity presented by this trip.

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