Religious sisters express joy at “full participation” in Synod on Synodality

The President of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG) says religious sisters have “responded with joy” to Pope Francis’ invitation to “the ecclesial journey of the Synod on Communion, Participation and Mission”.
Five religious women will be representing the UISG at the first session of the Synod on Synodality, which takes place in Rome from the 4th – 29th October.

The President of the UISG, Sister Mary Barron, OLA, has expressed her joy at the opportunity to participate in the synod of synodality.

On Thursday, the President said she was grateful to Pope Francis, who first invited the UISG to participate in the Synod on the Family in 2014 as auditors. Since then, members of the UISG have participated in each subsequent Synod as auditors.

In her speech, Sr Barron said “This year UISG has an additional reason for expressing its gratitude since it is the first time its representatives will fully participate as members in the Synodal process – engaging in the conversations in the Spirit, offering feedback to be included in written documentation, and in voting.”

“We respond with joy to Pope Francis’ call to participate in the Synod of Bishops and to commit ourselves to the ecclesial journey of the Synod on Communion, Participation, and Mission” the President stressed.

Five UISG representatives have been called upon to participate in the upcoming General Assembly of the Synod. The representatives are: Sr. Mary Barron, OLA, the President of UISG; Sr. Patricia Murray, IBVM; UISG Executive Secretary, Sr. Elizabeth Mary Davis, RSM; Sr. Elysée Izerimana, Op. S.D.N. and Sr. Maria Nirmalini, A.C.

Sr Barron hoped that the UISG’s participation in the Synod will be to provide a prophetic voice since according to her “The UISG has heard the voices of its members who are eyewitnesses to so much of what is happening in our world today”.

Expressing joy over her selection, Sister Maria Nirmalini said, “The news of being selected to participate in the Synod on synodality came as a total surprise to me, though a pleasant one at that”.

“I take it as an invitation to join in the incredible journey of walking together in communion, participation, and mission with all His people.”, she added.

The UISG president stated that she is confident that religious life, with its community life experience, can assist the Church in achieving this synodal conversion.

According to Sr Barron, “Our consecrated life in all its forms already illustrates this synodal Church, where men and women of different generations and vocations joyfully collaborate in listening to each other and seeking God’s will, to build together a Church that God awaits in this third millennium.”

“We too, as the consecrated religious of our day, have much to learn from others within the Church, so we too continue the path of conversion, improving and developing synodality within consecrated life and beyond”, she affirmed.

She also noted “We are invited to feel part of this Synod, to share our experiences and to dream together so that the Synodal Church becomes a reality. We take part in this adventure with confidence, remaining humble and co-responsible!”

The UISG President concluded that “Through the Synod responses we received, and through the synthesis we ourselves contributed to in collaboration with our male counterpart, the Union of Superiors General (USG), we feel we can confidently represent this important aspect of ecclesial life that touches so many people.”

Brief history of the UISG

The International Union of Superiors General was canonically established in 1965 through the inspiration of the Second Vatican Council.

According to the mission statement of UISG, it aims to foster closer cooperation amongst women’s congregations of Apostolic Religious Life. Currently, UISG “is composed of 1903 Superiors General” throughout the world, distributed across “36 regional constellations”.

The organization gives its 2,000 member congregations, which amount to over 600,000 women religious, a place and a venue to share experiences, exchange knowledge, mentor one another, and support one another as they serve as leaders in their congregations, in society at large, and in the Church.

With a global membership, the Union aims to “build bridges and develop networks”, in order that religious sisters from different parts of the globe can contact and communicate with one another and form a global community while also being in communion with one another.