Asian Nuns Call for 'Radical' Ministry

Article excerpt

SAMPHRAN, THAILAND -- A group of women religious from Asia and Oceania last month said they plan to make radical shifts in the way they carry out their missions of service to the church and wider world.

Their pledges, echoing their gathering's theme, "Jesus Encounters the Syro-Phoenician Woman: Called to Move Beyond," came in a statement that followed the Oct. 13-21 conference here under the auspices of the 15th Asia-Oceania Meeting of Religious (known as AMOR).

Recognizing that the shifts they hope to make will require much fortitude, the women emphasized these changes will only come about through enriched prayer lives and continued introspection.

During the conference the women offered their prayers and solidarity with U.S. women religious who are facing two Vatican investigations.

The conference's final statement, drawn up in the last days of the meeting, reads: "All these experiences and presentations reiterate in us the call to move beyond. We recognized that this will be possible only when we prayerfully reflect on who we are and what we are called to be. We acknowledged that moving beyond invites us to go back to the depth of our own being where we encounter the Source of Life."

The statement commits the women to:

* Be prophetic religious women who are deeply spiritual and work for the integrity of all creation and build up a more humane world;

* Announce God's dream in the light of scripture through an attentive reading of the signs of the times in order to be witnesses of the incarnation of Jesus, creating a culture of life and hope at all levels as they work to transform the culture and the structures of death;

* Review formation programs in the light of the prophetic mission as true disciples of Christ, enabling all to be and become mature persons in self-realization and self-transcendence, and share life-giving experiences and resources within and among congregations;

* Enable and empower leadership through collaborating, networking, and promoting mutuality and inclusivity in and among congregations, the church and society.

The women said they plan to place particular emphasis on four aspects of religious life: spirituality, mission, formation and leadership.

They said they believe:

* "In a life-giving spirituality which is rooted in the paschal mystery of Jesus Christ and our spiritual and cultural traditions, in a profound openness to God, a radical movement to be committed stewards of creation and a liberating love for all humanity;

* "In a creative and committed prophetic mission which calls us to keep deepening the essence of our religious life in Christ in order to fulfill God's dream for humanity and the cosmos, announcing God's love and denouncing unjust oppressive practices, systems and structures;

* "In an innovative, integral formation which enables us as individuals and communities to be engaged in a dynamic lifelong renewal, to rediscover our unique identity and mission in the history of salvation today;

* "In a collaborative, responsible and creative leadership inspired by individual and collective Gospel discernment and incarnated in an authentic loving service based on the dignity and equality of every human person. …