In response to the 2019 General Chapter Mandate in which the General Leadership Team(GLT) of the Tertiary Sisters of Saint Francis (TSS) was commissioned to work in synergy with the Provincial Leadership Team(PLT) of Cameroon to seek options for restructuring the Province of Cameroon, the GLT organized an in-presence meeting from April 16-18, 2023 at Laverna Spiritual Centre, Foncha Street Bamenda, Cameroon with the primary objective of listening to one another to accomplish this task. The process, which started in 2020, had as theme: “A Call to Transformation for Effective Mission,” and The Scripture text which has been guiding the process is: “Put out into deep water and let down your nets for a catch”(Lk 5: 4).
In an atmosphere of conviviality and animated by the Easter joy, 70 Participants, including the General Leadership Team, the Provincial Leadership Team of the Cameroon Province, Zonal Leaders and representatives of all TSSF convents from Cameroon, Congo DRC, Nigeria and the Central African Republic converged in La Verna Spiritual Centre to reflect, deliberate and take concrete steps on how to restructure the Province of Cameroon for effective mission. The restructuring Assembly which was facilitated by Sr. Olivia Umoh, Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent De Paul, and Sr. Rose Mary Arrah of the Congregation of the Handmaids of the Holy Child Jesus, challenged the sisters to go down memory lane, review the past, compare it with the present and map out the way forward for the future.
It was against this backdrop that in a prayerful atmosphere of trust and guided by the quote from Oscar Romero, the sisters acknowledged in humility: ‘We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own”. They equally acknowledged that they were standing on Holy ground and had a crucial task that would shape and affect future generations. Going down memory lane, the sisters also admitted with profound gratitude that they were standing on the shoulders of their foremothers (Tyrolese pioneers). They felt challenged to take on the task entrusted to them seriously.
The deliberations and communal discernment process towards building consensus were done in a synodal spirit characterized by empathetic listening. Like any process, the sisters expressed their fears about the process. However, encouraged by very professional and skilful facilitators and animated by the Holy Spirit, all fears and doubts gradually gave way to faith and hope. With their worries transformed into hope and determination, the sisters also realized that a paradigm shift of mindset, trust, unity and hard work were indispensable for the success of the process. All pledged to be more committed to moving the process forward while trusting the General Leadership Team's wisdom and the Holy Spirit's guidance. The facilitators challenged the participants to be trust builders. For this to happen, the 4 Cs of trust building, which are communication, connection, commitment and care for one another, are needed. Cognizant of the fact that “he who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life”, and drawing from the Daffodil Principle, the sisters acknowledged that they had all it takes to overcome their fears and respond to this urgent call to transformation for effective mission. To move towards the set goals, they equally confessed that taking one step at a time is essential while trusting in a united force's power.
By Sr. Marceline Yenmuleh, TSSF