Sisters of Saint Joseph of Annecy

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Cosmic Consciousness and our SSJ Spirituality                      

May 2023 saw Sisters representing every entity of the Congregation gathering in Annecy keen to discover more about that strange term ‘Cosmic Consciousness’ and to deepen their experience of our SSJA charism. The course came about in response to the 2019 General Chapter call that we will all:“be … empowered by an in-depth study of our Spiritual Heritage” and “have teams of Sisters, trained in Médaille Spirituality and Cosmic Consciousness, animating all the Sisters”.

With great care, Sister Vianney co-ordinatedthis first step in preparing the Sisters who will go on to share the wisdom with each part of the congregation. It was no easy task. Originally, the event was to take place in the English Province in May 2022, but multiple visa issues meant it had to be postponed at the last minute.Undaunted, Sister re-scheduled the event for Annecy 2023 and the Generalate team generously openedtheir community to the eight of us ‘students’, to Srs Bridget and Henrietta who enthused us with Cosmic Consciousness and to Sr. Monica who gently shared her wisdom in our Spirituality and guided us during our retreat.Also staying at the generalate were Martha (Vizag) and Catherine (Bhubaneswar) who served us with delicious meals.The whole month was a truly wonderful experience.


Cosmic Consciousness
It is all too easy to stay with the ‘Old Story’, the way Creation was explained in times when we had less scientific knowledge, – and staying there is dangerous; it raises questions in our mindsthat can make science and faith look as though they contradict each other. They do not!A shift in consciousness is needed. Through their presentations and meditations, Srs. Bridget and Henrietta amazed us with the evolution of the ever-expanding universe, the importance of each tiniest part of itand how all ultimately IS ONE. We stood in awe at the Divine Creator’s workover the past 13.7 billion years - and how we are invited to be Co-Creators in it.Hopefully, all Sisters will soon have had the chance to share in this amazing and energising story.

After giving their sessions, Srs Bridget and Henrietta returned to the English Province and the group enjoyed spending36 hours in the footsteps of key figures in our congregation’s history. We went to Bas-en-Basset and visited the house where Mother St. John grew up andwe breathed in the air that nurtured her. After going to Monistrol where she was leading the community at the outbreak of the French Revolution, we continued tothe Centre International at Le Puy,visitingthe town, the cathedral, a lace-maker and, of course, the kitchen of our first Sisters. Our way back to Annecy took us via Lyon where we prayed at Mother St. John’s tomb.Many thanks to Sr. M-Paule and Didier who drove us everywhere.

While we were away, Sr. Monica had arrived in Annecy and was preparing to deliver the second part of the course.

Medaille Spirituality

One might think that Cosmic Consciousness and the Medaille Spirituality are two very different aspects of our lives, but from the outset Sr. Monica also spoke of the need for a shift in consciousness.For example, when we are caught up in active ministry, we risk focussing more on thedoingthanthe quality of our presence and of what we communicate.
To live fully the SSJ spirit, she explained, all three have to be given equal importance.

Sr. Monica offered us such a rich variety of insights that it is difficult to do justice to them here. We looked at the importance of remembering Sisters who went ahead of us and of ourselves being remembered as examples of the charism to be handed down to future generations.We considered three key words: Mission, Charism and Spirituality.
Mission: our SSJ share in the mission of Jesus;
Charism: the gift we receiveto live the mission, a gift that shapes our lives;
andSpirituality: the way we live the charism.
Finally, after our retreat, we began taking a fresh look at the Maxims of Perfection, such a rich source of help and inspiration – but a resource easy to forget in the busy-ness of the day.

For the retreat, we moved away from the Generalate to La Puya, the nearby diocesan centre on the road to the Visitation monastery. The facilities were very good, and we had the place almost to ourselves.Being guided through the Eucharistic Letter by Sr. Monica with the aid of powerpoints and meditationsrevealed fresh depths in the spirituality of Fr. Médaille. It became very clear that the letter will always reward careful, meditative reading.

The chapel at La Puya

Throughout the course, we were blessed to have Mass celebrated by a young, Indian MSFS priest in the chapel of La Galerie. This location played a profound part in rooting us in our own history - and in reminding us of the influence of St. Francis de Sales.

Having had the privilege of being part of this month-long course and remembering the course was an outcome of the General Chapter, we came away very aware of our responsibility to share the wisdomwiththe Sisters of our own entitiesand look forward to opportunities to do this.

Our thanks go to Sr. Breda and the Generalate community who were so generous in their hospitality, to Sr. Vianney who not only organised the month but also took part fully in the event, to Srs. Monica, Henrietta and Bridget for their inspiring inputs – and not forgetting the ever-smiling Srs. Catherine and Martha who made sure of an unending supply of delicious food. May God bless you all.