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Graciela participated in the UISG-USG Assembly

June 16, 2021


In Rome, on May 26, 27, and 28, the Union of Superiors General (USG), whose president is Arturo Sosa, of the Society of Jesus, and the International Union of Superiors General (UISG), whose president is Jolanta Kafka, of the Claretian Missionaries held their joint general assembly.

For the first time, the two Unions have held their assembly together. Graciela Francovig, our Superior General, has participated in it.

The topic has been very suggestive and current:

 “To become sisters, to become brothers: 

the life consecrated to the service of fraternity in a wounded world.”

Considering the situation, we live in, the Assembly has been online, between 13.00 and 16.00 Rome time.

We asked Graciela to give us information on how this Assembly has developed and also to share her most significant experiences of recent days.

She had an intervention with another superior general, who was asked for a testimonial and the title was: “What does it mean to me to be close to my sisters and the injured people?”

But as you have kindly agreed to the request, we have asked you some questions and it is better to listen to your actual experience.

1. Could you explain to us what this joint Assembly has consisted of?

This joint Assembly of Male and Female superiors general was an initiative that each of the Unions has had, motivated by the Pope’s request to the religious of the treatment of Fratelli Tutti and also by the path of synodality to which we are preparing ourselves as a Church.

Being in a time of the pandemic, we’ve done it by Zoom, they set a deadline for registration. We were about 250 participants. We know that female religious life has a much larger number, but care was taken that the numbers were equal. As we did not know each other, in March and April we had, optionally, a pre-assembly to “put a face”. These previous meetings were one day and we were simply talking about some question always related to the encyclical. It was good preparation for the meeting we are talking about.

2. What has the development of the chosen theme meant?

On the first day, after the presentation of both presidents, we heard the testimony of 2 Superiors General each from Men and Women Congregations.  In this case, we were the superiors general of the Little Brothers of Jesus and me.

We were asked for a testimony of our life around FT’s no. 115. “The service always looks at the brother’s face, touches his flesh, feels his closeness and even in some cases suffers with them and seeks the promotion of the brother.”

On the second day, we had a presentation by Cardinal Antonio Tagle on the biblical roots of FT. And the third and last, we worked on the conclusions of the previous two days, from a long dialogue in language groups.

3. What has been the methodology followed?

It seemed to be a dynamic and creative methodology, with the technological means that we currently have: an initial presentation and work by language groups based on questions prepared to deepen the presentation. And in the end, in the general assembly, the day’s work was compiled with the help of an external person, using the technique of the ‘graphic recorder’.

The groups had our commonality with a word or a phrase. It was interesting to discover what stood out more in the language groups, you could see accentuated trends in the religious life of both places. Very interesting!

4. What would you point out as most meaningful to you?

The most significant thing, not only for me but for everyone, has been the sharing of the two Unions. It was a sharing of great quality, of a deep level, of feeling really sisters and brothers. A fraternity that has brought us comfort in those three days. I believe that the Spirit did more with us than the organizers intended. It exceeded all expectations.

I also highlight the simplicity in relationships, the closeness, the search and challenges that we carry out together, to share what the pandemic is doing for our congregations. The world is wounded, our societies are wounded and we, we, are part of that world and we are also vulnerable and – why not say it – wounded in our communities.

5. Surely you have a message for the Mother Candida Family, how would you formulate it?

The message-wish is that we read Fratelli Tutti, first of all. There are many conferences, meetings, explanations of the encyclical, but I do not know if we have all met directly with it. The charism of M. Cándida, in which filiation is a great note, brings as a result, fraternity, because we are daughters then we are brothers.

But “we have to become sisters, brothers.” This is not something that happens automatically, nor naturally. You have to do that process of going out to meet the other. May we be a Family that goes out of our way, meeting the other, and that we walk together in this Church that wants to promote, more and more, this path of synodality.

6. Do you want to add anything else?

Thanks to God and to all my fellow service members of superiors general, because in these days we were able to discover the surprise of feeling this way, “brothers, sisters”.

Thank you very much, Graciela; it is a stimulus to know that we walk more and more in fraternity that helps us to move on.

María Luisa Berzosa, FI -Roma-