Planting the seeds that one day will grow…

Quoting from the introduction made by Sr. Miriam Dlugosz, SSpS:

It is very appropriate that the Closing Mass of our JPIC Seminar takes place on Mission Sunday.  When we return to our Provinces and Regions, we have a great responsibility.  Let us not allow the seed, which was planted in us, die.  Let us take care of this seed so that it can grow and flourish.  This will show the unity of our group as we continue planting in our own countries.

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The Closing Ceremony of the Seminar

October 21, 2012   World Mission Sunday

The First SSpS International JPIC Seminar closed at a high note, with expressions of joy and gratitude from all the participants, the organizing team, the service staff, and the Sisters community in the Mother House.  After three weeks of sharing experiences, exchanging information, and reflection on the various topics related to justice, peace, and integrity of creation, the time has come for each and everyone to express profound THANK YOU for all that has been these past several days.  It was indeed a moment of heartwarming celebration for the blessings of the seminar, held for the first time in the Congregation on the international level, with all the 44 SSpS Provinces and Regions in 48 countries represented.

Closing Session

Sr. Maria Theresia Hôrneman giving the Closing Remarks

Sr. Maria Theresia Hörnemann, the Congregational Leader, in her closing remarks, gave a word of thanks and encouragement to all the participants.  She enjoined everyone  to carry on the fruits of the seminar, making JPIC indeed a way of life for all the members of the Congregation.

Video of Sr. Maria Theresia’s Closing Remarks (click here)

Srs. Pauline Pereira and Judith Vallimont, on behalf of the Congregational Leadership Team, expressed special thanks, while Srs. Maria Theresia and Jessy George  gave some token, to those who worked behind the scene, who were “like angels” attentive to all the needs of the participants and took care of all the aspects of the Seminar —  food, accommodation, transportation, coordination, facilitation, translation, communication and secretariate.  All the selfless service were affirmed by the results of the evaluation, where the participants’ ratings ranged from “very good” to “excellent”.

Photos of the closing session…

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The Closing Liturgy

The Closing Mass was held in the Main Chapel with the Sisters community of the Mother House joining all the participants.   Again the wealth of internationality and interculturality were very much manifested all throughout the celebration.  Readings and songs in different languages, as well as dances and rituals inspired by different cultures, were offered as acts of praise and thanksgiving to the Triune God who has blessed the Seminar abundantly.

Text of Homily for Closing Eucharist by Fr. Francisco (click here)

Photos of the Closing Liturgy…

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Sr. Mary John talks about the importance of the seminar (click her photo to watch the video)

Sr. Carmen Elisa Bandeo, SSpS, the Congregation’s Mission Secretary and overall Coordinator of the Seminar, talks about the importance of this seminar for the Congregation and her dynamic view of JPIC.

For Sr. Carmen, promotion of justice, peace and integrity of creation is following the dream of St. Arnold Janssen and looking for new responses to the needs of today. (click her photo to watch the video)

Brother Brian McLauchlin,on behalf of the Society of the Divine Word, expresses his gratitude for the opportunity to participate in the seminar.  He also speaks about the relevance of the topics discussed during the three weeks, training JPIC promoters to act on the realities of our time.
For Brother Brian, it is very important to have a joint work between men and women for the mission, in particular, the Arnoldus Family working and collaborating in an integrated manner. (click his photo to watch the video)

SVD Participants

The Society of the Divine Word was represented at the seminar by their JPIC Zonal Coordinators:

  • Fr. Cherian Joseph Admakkeel of India, representing the ASPAC (Asia – Pacific)
  • Brother Peter van de Wiel, Netherlands, representing the European continent
  • Brother Brian McLauchlin of the United States, representing PANAM
  • Fr. Godéfroid Naniakweti Kiyangi of Congo, representing AFRAM (African continent)

Final Statement

October 20, 2012




OCTOBER 1-21, 2012




We, the fifty-three Missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit, including the Congregational Leadership Team, participated in the First SSpS International Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) Seminar.  The participants represented 48 countries from 44 Provinces/Regions.  The Congregational Leadership Team convoked the seminar and invited four Divine Word Missionaries, who represented their zones.  Over these days we deepened the theme, “Choose Life”, our Biblical Icon (Jn. 8: 1-10) and our commitment to life, justice, peace and integrity of creation.  Our shared experience called and challenged us to live the Gospel values with new perceptions and understanding of JPIC in today’s world.

In the spirit of journeying together, we revisited and reflected on Self, the Scriptures, the Social Teachings of the Church, our Founding Generation, the Constitutions, and the General Chapter Documents. The Realities of the World and the Church, our connectedness with the Universe (New Cosmology), Mysticism, Prophecy, and Restorative Justice were some of the topics highlighted during the seminar.   The process of the Pastoral Cycle of See, Judge and Act helped us to deepen our understanding of various issues. The Spirit stirred our hearts to the inner movements of our Chapter directions on Non Violence and Integrity of Creation.

The sharing of insights led us to a new and deeper understanding of JPIC as a way of life which is rooted in our Trinitarian Spirituality –  right relationship with God, self, others, and creation.  Jesus with His passion for the Kingdom values is our model of JPIC.  Action rooted in contemplation is the essence in incarnating Jesus’ attitude of love and compassion amidst injustice and oppression.  As women disciples of Jesus, JPIC is a constitutive dimension of our identity, life and mission.

We have seen the Risen Lord inviting us to personal and communal conversion, and beckoning us to joyfully proclaim fullness of life in Him.  This experience led us to be afire and committed with a greater determination in making JPIC A WAY OF LIFE.

In the light of our 13th General Chapter Directions and this JPIC Seminar, we commit ourselves to the following: 

  1. integrate JPIC into all our communities and ministries
  2. care for the Integrity of Creation
  3. consciously choose non-violence as a way of life
  4. respond creatively to the realities of our times where life is most threatened
  5. network within/between our Provinces/Regions, VIVAT International, the SSpSAP, SVD, laity and others

Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation are core values of our Congregation.  Our Founding Generation have shown us the way to respond to the realities of their time especially to the people living in poverty.  We commit to continue their spirituality, vision and mission in today’s world.

To download the document of the Statement (click here)

Planning and Drafting of Statement

October 19, 2012

The Planning Process

Sr. Mary John Kudiyiuppil, SSpS, Seminar Facilitator

Sr. Mary John described how the participants will go about the planning.  So it happened that in small groups, mostly by mission country, the participants shared their individual JPIC Provincial Plan and came up with a General Plan.  This plan was then laid out in the continental groups, where, by exchanging ideas, each one is enriched and given some handles in developing her/his own synthesis to be shared later in one’s own province or region.  In the plenum, common elements identified during the continental exchange as well as observations on the different plans were presented as follows:

  • There are some contrasting differences among the plans because they are specific on the provinces and regions.
  • Coordinators are frequently replaced; information about the movement must be known on the continental level.
  • Considering the General Chapter in 2014, there might be some matters coming from this seminar that can be presented and addressed in the Congregational level.
  • There is a great tendency for JPIC promoters to become workaholics
  • Numerous meetings
  • More than work, one should pay attention to the self; consciousness raising is necessary not only among the communities but within oneself as well.
  • It is important to live and share the heritage bequeathed by our Founder.
  • We are often carried away by activities; integration is important in order to sustain quality response.
  • Share our experiences with other members of our own communities.
  • Touched by “being a promoter”.  It is a challenge and a responsibility for personal conversion and building credibility.   To promote is also to live.

Fr. Francisco O’Conaire, OFM, Seminar Facilitator

A suggestion was made to develop a Job Description for JPIC Coordinators.  Fr. Francisco affirmed that such job description can facilitate a smooth flow of work and information on the provincial/regional and continental levels.  He posed a warning, however,  on the danger of activism.  He emphasized the need to care for oneself and give attention to the different areas of one’s life.  In the face of seemingly endless need to respond to people and situations, we have to remember that we are not the messiahs. To counteract activism, it helps now and then to  step back and spend some time to be alone.  Silence is indispensable to know oneself and discern God’s movement and will.

After the plans were all presented, the following commonalities were observed:

  • networking
  • prayer dimension
  • integration of JPIC in community prayers
  • formation
  • communication
  • blog
  • meetings at continental level

These are all possibilities, but we need to choose only a few, to start with, make a time line, evaluate, and then move on to the next.

Fr. Francisco shared a list of printed and web publications that are rich in information and resource materials on JPIC work.

Document on Resources: JPIC USG/UISG Publications (click here)


The Statement

The revised draft of the Statement was presented to the plenum for approval. Sr. Mary John described the process undertaken by the members of the drafting committee – Srs. Rose Therese, Claire and Joy Mary.   They tried to incorporate most of the suggestions that came from the continental groups. The basic structure of the Statement as drafted is of narrative style.  It contains inputs, insights, pledge, and conclusion.

After Sr. Joy Mary read the Statement, the participants were given few minutes to discuss by table.  When they returned to the plenum, there was a short discussion, before arriving at a consensus, on making a “commitment”, and not just a “recommendation”  Then finally, Sr. Mary John asked, “Do we fundamentally agree to this Statement?”.  The plenum responded affirmatively.  Thus, the Statement of the First SSpS International JPIC Seminar was approved with minor revision.

The members of the Drafting Committee were commended and applauded for the job well done . On the other hand, Sr. Mary John strongly encouraged the participants to have the statement not merely on paper but etched in theirs heart and to bring it to life.

Photos of the planning process…

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Personal Reflection

October 18, 2012

To summarize the activities of the remaining three days of the seminar, Sr. Mary John (facilitator) first quoted Jesus saying:  “You shall know them by their fruits”, then described to the participants what the organizing team considers as three types of “fruits” (for the remaining days of the seminar):

  1. Understand — reviewing and finalizing the Statement
  2. Act — planning individually
  3. Animate — preparing a 15-minute presentation for their respective province or region

Sr. Zelia Cordeiro, SSpS

As a response to the participants’ inquiry on how they can work closely with VIVAT, Sr. Zelia and Fr. Felix took the floor once again.  Sr. Zelia showed a moving and inspiring video song by Beyoncé entitled “I WAS HERE” (click here),  sung on the occasion of World Humanitarian day last 19 August 2012 at the UN General Assembly.  Fr. Felix presented “11 Practical Ways to be Part of VIVAT”:

  1. Learn
  2. Celebrate UN Days
  3. Respond to surveys on relevant issues
  4. Fr. Felix Jones, SVD

    Participate in Special Rapporteur’s visits

  5. Participate /Contribute  in CEDAW Reviews
  6. Participate/ Contribute in UPR
  7. Network with other organizations including UN agencies (UNDP, UN WOMEN, UNICEF UNAIDS, etc) and VIVAT members in your country and other countries
  8. Get to know laws related to issues you deal with
  9. Annual Report
  10. Internship – *See guidelines in VIVAT’s website:
  11. VIVAT Publications:
    • Use the manual “VIVAT is Yours” in your community  (available 4 languages)
    • Booklet – Prayer reflection for Advent 2012
    • Contribute to our newsletter
    • Pass on information

Important events and dates to remember:

  • The first UN conference on indigenous issues in 2014.
  • Conference on the issue of women in 2015.

On behalf of all the member congregations of VIVAT,  Sr. Maria Theresia, being VIVAT’s current President, thanked Sr. Zelia and Fr. Felix, acknowledging the work they have been doing with great passion.

The rest of the morning was spent in personal reflection, dwelling particularly on individual plans and presentations.

Afternoon sessions — 

Review of the Statement

The Statement, which was drafted by a committee composed of Srs. Rose Therese, Claire and Joy Mary, was presented to the plenum.  The participants were given time to review it, first individually, then by continental groups.  Comments and suggestions were submitted to the committee for revision.

Provincial JPIC Plan

Fr. Francisco (facilitator) presented some guidelines on preparing a Provincial JPIC Plan. The framework of the plan takes into account the vision for the province, the possible obstacles in the realization of this vision, and the concrete actions to be taken to overcome the obstacles.

Main Task of a JPIC Animator

As SSpS JPIC animators, our main task is to help incorporate JPIC into the LIFE (community) and MISSION (ministries) of the SSpS.  Fr. Francisco pointed out that while JPIC values are promoted on the Congregational level, the living-out and concretization of these values, on the other hand, are done on the Provincial level.  To ensure that JPIC becomes an integral part of our life and mission, we also need to have formators who are imbued with such values.  Integration of JPIC, from the examples given by Sr. Filo Hirota (one of our speakers), does not mean taking on additional work; it means doing an assigned ministry from this perspective.

Before closing the session Fr. Francisco gave some information regarding useful resource materials:

  • A Formation Itinerary for a Prophetic Religious Life
  • Prayers prepared by the JPIC commission in Rome
  • Working document for JPIC Animators – Guidelines worked out for the OFM

Non-Violent Communication and Project Design and Proposal Writing

October 17, 2012  –  International Day of Poverty Eradication

Communication for Peace

Sr. Ana Elídia Caffer Neves, SSpS

Sr. Ana Elídia Caffer Neves, SSpS, our resource person from the Province of Brazil North, has a wide range of study and experience in the area of communication.  Her topic today was on “Non-Violent Communication (NVC)”.  She introduced her talk by way of quiet personal reflection on the following points:

  1. —Get in touch with your heart.
  2. —Identify the feelings you have experienced more strongly during this seminar.
  3. —Also identify your main needs during this seminar.
  4. Were your needs satisfied?

Sr. Ana Elídia then proceeded to her presentation entitled “Communication for Peace; Compassionate Communication”.  First she made an important reference to one of the 13th General Chapter directions — “Learning Non-violence”,  then discussed about the Triangle of Violence with its 3 components:

  • Direct violence
  • Cultural Violence
  • Structural Violence

In learning the way of NVC, one has to know the hierarchy of human needs.  Such knowledge is essential to interpersonal communication that holds compassion as its foundation and peace as its goal.  Conceived in the 60’s by Dr. Marshall Rosenberg, a psychologist, NVC serves as guide or tool  to resolve conflicts and to develop new social systems that promote partnership and sharing of power.  NVC is also applied in education and in advocating Restorative Justice.  The key to overcome fights and disagreements is in the manner we speak and listen to others.

The images of a jackal (wolf) and a giraffe were used to make a contrast between the aggressive way of achieving our goal, which most people learned from childhood, and the constructive/peace-promoting way.  In the face of  a  heated argument, the giraffe only listens.  Beyond the violent words, it hears the other saying: “please help me”.  With compassion it considers what is happening to the other.

The starting point of NVC is what Dr. Marshall calls “Divine Energy”.  It means to recognize God’s presence in oneself  and in the other.  Conflicts with persons of different opinions and cultures entail cycles of painful emotions.  As an alternative way of facing it, NVC calls for one to speak clearly and honestly.  In doing so, the following should be taken into account:

  1. What did the person do?
  2. How did I feel?
  3. What need of mine was not met?
  4. What do I wish (desire) that this person do for me?

The Goals of NVC:

  • To help us connect with what is alive in us and in others
  • To establish relationships founded on cooperation and compassion.
  • To build relationships from the heart:  giving and receiving so that one’s own life as well as the other’s may be enriched

Some steps in NVC:

  • observe without interpreting
  • identify and express feelings
  • assume responsibility for feelings
  • ask what will enrich life when needs are not met
  • receive and give empathy
  • be compassionate with oneself
  • express anger
  • be interiorly liberated to be able to help others
  • express gratitude

Sr. Ana Elídia concluded her presentation with “Prayer for Peace” that she herself composed.

Powerpoint presentation on Non-violent Communication (click here)


Project Design and Proposal Writing

Sr. Benigilda Ladia, SSpS and Sr. Julie George Kandathinkara, SSpS shared with other participants their knowledge and experience on making project proposals.

Sr. Julie George Kandathinkara, SSpS and Sr. Benigilda Ladia, SSpS

Sr. Benigilda made a connection between proposal-writing and JPIC.   She said that we become voice to the voiceless by making a project proposal in their behalf.  It is one way of trying to concretize our response to commitment to life.  In the project proposal we SEE the situation, we JUDGE it based on Gospel values, and ACT on it according to the these values.

Sr. Julie George presented the Guidelines for Project Proposal, coming from her own experience.  She pointed out that in making the budget, most of the funding agencies require the proponents to give a counterpart.  The importance of conducting a research and obtaining clear data was emphasized.  Sr. Benigilda presented the steps in monitoring and some tools for data collection.

In conclusion, it was stressed that project proposal-making being a technical process, needs a special technical skill.  We may lose our credibility to funding institutions if we do not make it well.  That means losing financial support to our mission work.

Powerpoint presentations on Project Design and Proposal Writing

Advocacy, Lobbying and Networking

October 16, 2012




The Executive Team of VIVAT International, Sr. Zelia Cordeiro, SSpS and Fr. Felix Jones, SVD, came all the way from VIVAT’s Head Office in New York City to discuss about “Advocacy, Lobbying and Networking” particularly in the international and United Nations level.

Sr. Zelia Cordeiro, SSpS and Fr. Felix Jones, SVD

Fr. Felix, being the first speaker, introduced Vivat by presenting its milestones. Noteworthy that the establishment of VIVAT as an NGO in the UN is the initiative of the SSpS.  A joint proposal was submitted to the SSpS and SVD General Councils on May 18, 1999.  After being endorsed by the SSpS Assembly of Provincials and Regionals in Pune (September 1999) and the SVD General Chapter (July 2000), VIVAT was formally established on November 18, 2000, making SSpS and SVD the founding members.

After 12 years, VIVAT’s network has grown significantly.  To date, it has a total membership of 25,386 Sisters, Priests and Brothers from 12 religious congregations, working in 122 countries in Europe, Asia-Pacific, Africa and America.

VIVAT addresses JPIC issues at the grassroots and systemic levels.  To show the process of how issues from the grassroots are elevated to VIVAT International level, Fr. Felix related some cases from Indonesia, Peru, Sudan and Sri Lanka.

Advocacy, being the primary task of VIVAT (and JPIC promoters), was discussed by Sr. Zelia.  She presented to the group its meaning and framework.  To ensure success in advocacy efforts, specific components have to considered and particular steps have to be followed.  Keeping a data bank is important to support advocacy work.  There is a process to handle confidential and sensitive information in order to protect the interests of our clients.  Advocacy is a high-risk work.  We may never see its end-results during our lifetime, but the effects are far more longterm than charity work.  

VIVAT International believes that as an essential human right, the fundamental dignity and equality of all women must be ensured.  Though VIVAT International’s work also covers poverty, sustainable development, and HIV/AIDS, women however get a big part of its attention.  Efforts are exerted on the international level to eliminate violence against women, being one of the most pervasive and brutal forms of discrimination that women experience.  For this, in the afternoon, Fr. Felix gave an input on CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women).

The final presentation by Sr. Zelia was about the “Universal Periodic Review (UPR): United Nations Human Rights Council” and the “Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights”.  She described in details how human rights issues from different countries are presented, discussed and acted upon in the periodic complaint sessions of the UN’s Human Rights Council.

Powerpoint presentations:

VIVAT International (click here)

Advocacy (click here)

CEDAW (click here)

Universal Periodic Review (click here)


Evening session —

Mr. Ralf Kern, bank officer (Wealth Management), shared about:

The Bank of the SVD Missionaries

In 1964, the Divine Word Missionaries founded at St. Augustin near Bonn, Germany the only Mission Bank in Europe. Its mission is to help people in need.  All profits from the Steyler Bank go to the mission work of the SVD and the SSpS all over the world.

Steyler Bank promotes safe investment through ethical guarantees.  16,000 satisfied customers prove that financial investment in solidarity is possible.  Year after year several million Euros go to significant aid projects.  It is remarkable that the Bank remains unaffected by the European economic crisis.

Steyler Bank is the only bank belonging to a Catholic Order.  It works according to the guidelines of the Steyl Missionaries founded by St. Arnold Janssen (SVD and SSpS).

Spirituality of JPIC Animation

October 15, 2012

Fr. Gearóid Francisco Ó Conaire, OFM

Fr. Gearóid Francisco Ó Conaire, OFM is the Executive Secretary of JPIC Commission of the USG/UISG (International Union of Superiors General).  His topic today was on the “Role and Spirituality of JPIC Promoters”.  Before his formal presentation, as co-facilitator, he recommended to the participants that for this last week of the Seminar, they take time to gather the fruits of the three weeks’ sessions and to discern how all these can be converted to concrete plan of action, which they can bring along and implement in their respective mission areas.   Working by continent, they will also design a presentation that will communicate to the Sisters and lay mission partners all these realizations in order to help them understand that JPIC is a constitutive element of the life and mission of the SSpS.

Fr. Francisco then proceeded to the first part of his talk —

“The Elements to Keep in Mind in JPIC Animation”:

I.  Responsiblities

  • Animation
  • Formation
  • Communication
  • Coordination
  • Collaboration

II.  Fundamental Attitudes and Actions

  • Being an ANIMATOR (rather than an activist!)
    • JPIC into life and mission
    • ‘Right relations’
    • ‘Preferential option for the poor’
    • Kingdom spirituality
  • Personal WITNESS (JPIC values)
  • Focus (WHY? questions): CAUSES and not just the consequences of injustice
  • Know foundational aspects of JPIC from:
    • Biblical tradition
    • Church documents
    • SSpS documents and Spirituality
  • Build structures (local/provincial)
  • Develop a JPIC Plan
  • Finances
  • Projects
    • Every ministry is a place to do justice
    • keep them simple;
    • take advantage of what already exists (formation, mission, seminars etc);
    • –what can best involve more sisters?
    • –what can be planned with others?
    • –what can be evaluated?
  • Methodology
    • –Participation
    • –Process
    • –A few priorities (every issues is linked to every other one)
    • –Social analysis
    • SEE – JUDGE/(Illuminate) – ACT – EVALUATE – CELEBRATE – SEE…
  • Collaboration
    • –involve others; (other religious, faith groups, NGOs)
    • Involve provincial committees
    • –Involve leadership (Provincial and Council )
    • be aware of what already exists (resources, ideas etc)
  • Communication – keep everyone informed
    • Websites
    • Newsletters
    • Urgent Actions
    • Publications

III.  Remember

  • Respect the Sisters (offer suggestions)
  • Listen/observe
  • Be positive — affirm
  • Persistence – Kingdom project and not yours!
  • Love the Sisters (even in resistance)
  • Be gentle and compassionate
  • Be culturally sensitive
  • Be willing to empower others
  • Connect with the poor
  • Respond rather than react
  • Sense of humor
  • Celebrate success
    • –be aware of what already exists (resources, ideas etc)
  • Personal Care
    • Study
    • Prayer and contemplation
    • Spiritual director
    • Time off
    •  Hand over

IV.  Avoid

  • Judging
  • Dismissing efforts of others
  • Making JPIC the work of specialists
  • Doing it alone
  • Creating dependency
  • Pessimism
  • Negativity
  • Doing too much

V.  Difficulties in JPIC Animation

  1. Lacking a non-violent gospel methodology
  2. Focus on ‘structural change’ rather than on ‘personal transformation’ as well
  3. JPIC focus on ‘out there’ rather than ‘in here’
  4. Some promoters ‘activists’ rather than ‘animators’
  5. Lacking creativity and imagination
  6. Unclear about JPIC = promoters and leadership
  7. Promoters receive no training or  orientation
  8. Lack of continuity in JPIC animation
  9. Poor collaboration with other services
  10. In general, no JPIC plans developed in Religious Institutes

Second part of Fr. Francisco’s presentation dwelt on “Towards a Spirituality of JPIC Animation”.  A document on this topic was given for reading and study.  It highlights the importance of Christian commitment to the transformation of the world, how the JPIC animator helps create awareness of suffering and injustices, and how she/he encourages gospel initiatives to alleviate pain and tackle the underlying causes of exclusion.  It emphasizes too that the animator cannot achieve this alone.  He/she needs a strong and developing spirituality, as well as fraternal (sisterly) and institutional support.

Powerpoint on “Elements to Keep in Mind in JPIC Animation” (click here)

Word document on “Towards a Spirituality of JPIC Animation” (click here)