From August 1 to the 15th, Sister Maribeth Larkin, General Director of the Sisters of Social Service Los Angeles, attended the Society of the Sisters of Social Service 16th General Chapter in the host country of Slovakia at the beautiful Benedictine Monastery of the Transfiguration of the Lord in Sampor. Chapter delegates were present from Hungary, Romania, Cuba, Slovakia and Buffalo, USA. The Chapter delegates from five countries and two continents, along with the rest of the Sisters of the Districts, prepared a year in advance, formulating together the important areas and issues to be addressed at the Chapter, including the election of the new General Moderator and her Council, and setting directions for the whole of the Society for the next six years. The delegates in attendance held a firm belief that the Holy Spirit is always creating something new, and prayed for the outpouring of the Spirit upon the work of the Chapter.
Each General Chapter is an important event in the life of a religious order. However, this particular Chapter was particularly special in many different ways. The preparation for the Chapter was marked by many uncertainties due to the pandemic, and up to the very last minute it was questionable whether the Chapter could even happen at all. This Chapter was like walking on water, experiencing God’s loving providence in some miraculous way, and thanks to the helpful support of local authorities, one obstacle after another was removed. Ultimately, the delegates were lucky to begin their work with the prayerful background of a most hospitable Benedictine community.
The other important grace of this Chapter was the experience of deep unity. In the past few days the motto the delegates prayed for the past two years became a reality:
Discerning several important and difficult questions, the delegates successfully reached a consensus in spite of some differing opinions, and the unanimity of the decisions was most definitely the fruit of the Holy Spirit. The Chapter directives for the next six years invites the Sisters to rethink our mission in the light of our charism and of the challenges posed by rapid social changes around us. We return “from the desert into the center of life” renewed in our vocation and ready to seek new ways in our apostolic life.
Said Sister Maribeth, “Being present for this Chapter was a huge blessing in my life. The reverence with which the delegates conducted their important business was inspiration from start to finish. I am so very grateful to have been with them!”
On August 15th, on the feast of the Assumption of Our Lady, the 16th General Chapter of the Society of the Sisters of Social Service came to an end. In the closing mass celebrated by Prior Vladimír Kasan the newly elected Council was inaugurated and reflects the internationality of the Society, as the four Councilors come from four different countries: