Election of a new General Council – Establishment of the Province Bolivia-Chile
The 17th General Chapter of the Missionary Sisters of the Most Holy Redeemer was opened on 6 October 2022 by Sr. Margret Obereder, Superior General of the 2017-2022 term. The theme of this Chapter has already taken concrete shape during the Assembly: “Walking together”, the Capitulars were online – and in it, they experienced how working together, praying, struggling for decisions, a common silence unite, even across the screen. “Wounded and redeemed”: Several times, the Chapter participants from Ukraine had to go to the shelters because of the missile alert – and continued to work from there. But all were affected by the news of the heavy attacks in Ukraine. The General Chapter expressed its solidarity with the Sisters and the people in Ukraine and assured them of prayerful support.
In joint sessions’ topics were discussed in four different places sessions were discussed in four different places. Impressive were the reports – accompanied by photos or PowerPoint presentations – of the various activities and developments in the last Chapter period, both at the level of the Provinces and Regions and at the level of the Congregation as a whole. The General Chapter then considered the evaluation of a questionnaire sent to the Sisters by a sociologist of religion, the results of which are to be further fed into the Congregation in order to define steps for the future. The Coordinator of the Redemptorists in Europe, Fr. Johannes Römelt CSsR, gave encouraging impulses about the meaning, risks and opportunities of times of transition, about hope, about identity that comes from a stable centre – God who remains faithful to his promise. Where there is unity in essential matters, there can also be many differences. The sisters are to remain with care in dialogue about both.
The election process for the election of the new General Council also took place online. It was a wonderful experience that even in this form – carefully guided by a moderator – a spiritual journey was possible and tangible. Discussions in plenary, in different small groups and in the local groups, individual work, silence and prayer alternated. The war in Ukraine also broke into this process with its horror and caused short-term interruptions. In the end, an international General Council was elected: The new Superior General is Sr. Teodora Shulak (42) from the Province of Ukraine, who lives in the rite of the Greek Catholic Church. Sr Teodora was previously Provincial Superior there and she is a theologian and psychologist. Sr. Erika Wimmer (59) from the Province of Germany-Austria, who has been Vicar General up to now, was elected to continue her ministry in the next term. She is active in retreat and pastoral work for vocations. The new General Consultor is Sr. Grisol Iturra Chavez (63), who was Regional Superior of the Bolivia Region in the last term of office; she comes from Chile and is committed to pastoral work in the lowlands of Bolivia.
As Sr Teodora emphasised in her first address to the Congregation, she strongly experiences the work of the Holy Spirit in this journey of the Congregation with great diversity and assurance of unity. As a Ukrainian, her heart suffers for Ukraine in these difficult times, but she is ready to take on the task of Superior General for the whole Congregation, strengthened by the trust of her fellow Sisters.
After the end of the election, the capitulars now turn to various substantive issues. An important step is the establishment of a new Bolivia-Chile Province, which was accomplished during the Chapter. After an intensive process that has taken years, the Missionary Sisters are happy about the establishment of the new Province and hope that the mission of the Congregation in the two countries will be strengthened as a result.
On 20 October, the 17th General Chapter of the Missionary Sisters of the Most Holy Redeemer will be concluded – but the work in the Congregation continues!
Sr. Anneliese Herzig MSsR