Final Experience Testimonies from International Formation GatheringBack
The final set of ‘Experience Testimonies’ and accompanying photographs from the International Formation Gathering are below, with submissions from India South, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand the England.
We experience the Formation Gathering as a continual blossoming of seeds that are being sown each day. The seeds of trust, openness, love and communion paved way for a rich harvest. It has been an experience of joy searching together for a common vision and focus for our formation with new perspectives. The inputs and sharing have given a new direction to dive in together to discover what might emerge from within.
Meeting with Sisters from across the globe, sharing insights, exchanging ideas, hopes and dreams and concerns regarding life and formation has been reinforcing, strengthening and hopeful. We have been stretched in many ways to move from the ‘I’ to ‘We’ consciousness and to embrace the wholeness within and without. The creative inputs and processes led us to understand how important it is to shift one’s focus from a small world to a larger whole.
The blessings we received during our journey together are rich and varied. The wisdom of the elders, the energy and vitality of the young, the support love and care of one another made the journey sacred and life generating. The warmth love and hospitality of the sisters of Africa Unit and of the Kasisi Centre was unique and significant.
India South Province
Gathering from all over the world, Presentation Sisters met with each other with joy and openness. It was such a profound experience of being Presentation for me. A warm welcome by our Sisters in Africa was gracious. They have done everything to make us feel at home. We also got a chance to visit some of the communities and ministries in which sisters are involved. I must say I felt proud of the work and the enthusiasm with which they do it.
The singing and drum beating of our sisters connected to the beat of my own heart and the African story told by Anne McDermott also led me to my own song (inner voice), our song as a Congregation song (our Charism).
I was inspired by the space given by Sr Gail where we all experienced the connectedness to our Original energy within us which strengthened me and I felt my grace moments emerging deep within the depths of my heart connecting me to the Divine.
Later we pondered on what to do with this energy as we dreamt a collective dreaming. Fr Michael brought us to the power of positive thinking and I realized how I can create my own state of mind and activate my inner guidance System.
My learning is related to the choices I make in my life daily. It deepened my self-healing and I realized that my present moment is not my final destination but trust that the best is yet to come. I am grateful to God for the opportunity to learn and experience my grace moments in an amazing place called Zambia.
Bina Yousaf from Thailand.
It has been a great opportunity for me to come to this Holy, sacred place to be one with our Sisters from all over the world. For the past 10 days I have been enriched by the presence of each other and by all the sharing of our facilitator and speakers who generously poured gems on us. I have experienced the spirit of connectedness as we come together from different cultures. It is such a momentous event in my life as we get to know each other through our sharing of ideas and conversation at meal times. I have learned many things and reflected a lot from those learning.
I see the diversity in this gathering with the different rituals, beliefs, and practices but we are bind by a common dream for the future of our Congregation especially in the area of Formation. Respect was present, acceptance and affirmation in the group. Cultures were celebrated and we enjoyed together.
The symbolism of sowing seeds in a garden is meaningful to me, a symbolism which I could easily relate with coming from a farming village. Indeed the land needs to be tilled so well for seeds to grow and thrive. Care for me plays a very important role. I have to nourish myself in order to grow not only physically but spiritually, psychologically and emotionally. As I participate in this gathering, I have felt I am being tended. If I have constant practice to care for myself, I can bring change not just to myself but also to others. I know how important it is to do my inner work of tending so I could be very well grounded in myself. And once I have that kind of grounding and balance then, it would not be too difficult to go out there where I am needed and do it with joy and confidence.
We travelled by bus, coach and train and met with excitement, happiness and gratitude to the English Province for giving us the chance to be together on our way to Zambia.
From the moment we touched African soil it was like meeting long lost friends when we met up with Ann Codd and Mary White in the line to go through immigration.
Once we came through to see Angela on her stool was Presentation Hospitality all the way. Our first night at Tahiso and dinner in candle light. Mrs Bucket (from the TV show Keeping Up Appearances) has nothing on it!
Arriving at Kasisi –beautiful setting-arms open wide to and for each other-meeting old and making new friends.
Our opening ritual was led by our sisters from Africa with drumming, and dancing calling us to reflection.
What is the beat of the drum in my heart?
On Sunday we went to different parishes – a memorable experience. The sense of celebration was joyful, colourful and participative with a real sense of community. After Mass people greeting each other with warmth.
Morning prayer from England was enhanced with music and dance from Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Many sisters who started out in England are here to ensure that we keep in line. It brings a sense of belonging and oneness.
We celebrate African Freedom Day on 25 May with entertainment from north, south, east and west and so it continues.
We will return enriched and better people.
Submitted by Eileen Keating and Bernadette Healy
We have been journeying together for the last 10 days in our Congregational Formation Meeting. It has been an experience of oneness and richness of being in communion with each other.
We heard Fr Mick Maguire talking about our commonality in our relationships so if we want to bring change in a group we need to make a collective choice in order to move forward.
We are delighted with the richness of different cultures of our Presentation world. We see the world is moving and changing very fast so there is an urgent need to change or modify our formation plan for our young people. The ‘Garden Image’ used is very meaningful and powerful. The garden beds are Relationships, Spiritual Life, Personal Development, Service/ Ministry and Sleep/Restoration. The nourishment of each part is important. The neglect of any will cause imbalance in our lives. It is also important for the Formator to give an example of a balanced life too.
The planning of the programme has led us from the big vision of the spirituality of being in communion with all of life, to a deeper understanding of ourselves as we interact with each other. Now we are looking at ourselves to our world of many changes and many needs-the world of those on the margins, of those on the peripheries of life.
Sr Pat Murray’s input on the culture has given us a great appreciation for our own culture and It has helped to be grounded in it.
Pakistan Unit Srs Emer, Ishrat, Shazia, Neelum and Shahnaz
You can read previous Experience Testimonies from the International Formation Gathering: Part one is here: and part two is here Plus there are photos and videos from the event on our Facebook page here