From 22-26 February 2021 the Little Company of Mary Sisters of the Region of the Southern Cross, Australia, Aotearoa NZ and Tonga met in virtual Assembly, a first for the Region and for the Congregation. The Assembly had been postponed for 12 months due to the COVID 19 pandemic and when it was realised even a rescheduled event could not take place, the decision was made to hold the event virtually.
With all the good will in the world and the able assistance of the facilitator, Sr Lauretta Baker RSJ and the staff from the Regional offices, 24 Sisters gathered at their computer screens individually, in small groups and across varying time zones for the 5 day event. Our Congregational Leader, Sr Bernadette Fitzgerald was with us for these days and we were supported by the prayerful presence of the whole Region throughout the discussion and deliberation.
Although tentative at the start, we grew in confidence with the technology as the days passed by and the willingness to participate in the discussion and the level of sharing achieved was truly inspiring. The prayers for each day were presented in beautiful leaflets, sent in a bundle before the Assembly by the organising committee. While we did not have the in person catch ups during the meal and break times, Sisters were able to chat informally with each other in between the sessions if they wished. The formal tasks of the Assembly, such as making a recommendation for the future Regional Leadership model were successfully achieved, with the assistance of the Canonical adviser where required.
The old adage ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ has proven to be true for so many in the COVID-19 world and things we would never have thought possible previously have become standard operating practice. The challenge to move beyond the known and familiar can seem a bit like facing Mount Everest, a very difficult task for the ordinary soul to achieve, but the willingness to have a go and to share the journey with others can make that first step less daunting.
We in the Region of the Southern Cross have successfully conducted out first virtual Assembly and now we know that this type of gathering is not only possible, but also full of possibilities. We are a Region of geographic separation, across time zones, languages and a lot of water! We are small in number but we are connected through the wonders of technology and united in the bonds of community and the spirit of Mary Potter.
Sr Bernadette Clear LCM