The General Chapter of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ
The General Chapter of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ was held from 25th April to 16th May 2019 with the theme “Venture into the Deep.” On the 25th we celebrated the Solemn Opening Mass imploring the Spirit of God to bless and accompany the whole group during the forthcoming days of the Chapter.
After a festive coffee in the cafeteria at 2 pm, the members of the Chapter gathered in the house chapel for the solemn prayer ritual preceding the opening of Chapter. After that, everyone processed to the Chapter Hall accompanied by bells, singing and praying and carrying the Bible, a copy of our Constitutions and a candle. Arriving at the hall, the Bible was enthroned and the Chapter Hall was officially blessed by the Motherhouse chaplain Fr. P. Busse.
Sr. Gonzalo Vakasseril PHJC, General Superior welcomed the gathering and officially opened the Chapter proceedings calling upon the Holy Spirit to direct and guide the Chapter, thus beginning our gathering in a spirit of openness to the voice of the Spirit present in each and every one of us, calling us to courageously “venture into the deep.”
Ms. Donna Fyffe skillfully facilitated and moderated our Chapter. She helped the members to understand clearly the real meaning of venturing into the deep where there is new life to be discovered. Prof. Dr. Myriam Wijilens, a Canon Lawyer led us on the journey of envisioning structures and governance for our times.
Throughout the Chapter the delegates and active observers met in various groups for deep sharing and reflection. Each member of the General Chapter exercised her responsibility in the process of decision-making, acting in a spirit of discernment and inner freedom. Each one, going beyond the horizons of her own province, kept in view the good of the whole Poor Handmaid Congregation.
The main direction we set for ourselves is the commitment to be communities in communion with each other and with all the rest of creation resting on the deep rootedness of the PHJC charism and spirituality. Many other direction-setting Acts of Chapter followed upon this foundational commitment.
During a break day we enjoyed visiting Mainz, the second oldest city in Germany. We explored the cathedral which was considered the religious and political centre of the Holy Roman Empire of Germanic nations. In the afternoon we visited Gutenberg Museum and St. Stephen Church to see the magnificent stain glass windows. On May 4th we had the opportunity to visit the Cathedral and Museum of Limburg and to celebrate the Holy Eucharist with Bishop Georg Batzing.
During the last days of the General Chapter, the delegates selected the congregational leaders for the next six years. The delegates focused on the leadership qualities that are needed to carry the community forward into the future. Sister Judith Diltz from the United States was elected as General Superior of the congregation. Sister Annemarie Pitzl, from Germany was elected as vicaress. Sister Betty Vazheparambil, India, and Sister Jacqueline Injete, Kenya were elected as Councilors. This leadership team will serve the congregation for the next six years. The installation for the General Leadership Team will be held in Derbach Germany on August 3, 2019.