Adrian Dominican Sisters General Chapter 2022, Day 1 Preaching by Xiomara Méndez Hernández OP Monday, June 27, 2022 - Mass of the Holy Spirit Acts 2:1-11 Luke 4:14-21 We finally made it here! Are we awakened yet? We came by bus, by plane, by car, by train, and many join in spirit. We are the survivors of a very long COVID-19 pandemic. This is the first General Chapter which the planning committee has never met in person until now. We all have conducted most of our encuentros by Zoom. And now, we are the 125 who made it here. We are the chosen ones. As a Congregation, we have been preparing for the last two years for this day. And our sisters have trusted that our collective wisdom will set the tone on how we will live and move into the next six years. Our theme song reminds us: “We are searching for a new beginning” … where we are call together to be awakened for transformation to happen. Are we ready? Are we awakened yet? Are we ready to give birth to our vision? Do we really want to be transformed? In the first reading, we heard that when the time of Pentecost was fulfilled, “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.” On that day everyone was filled with the Holy Spirit and their hearts were afire ! Pentecost is known as the birth of the first Christian community, a community based on Jesus’ teaching who urged them to love one another and to care for each other. Thus Pentecost was also the birth of the first beloved community. In this room, on this Holy ground, we too are living our own Pentecost, here and now: We are “all gathered in one place” as a community; we are already “speaking in different tongues,” and we can understand one another simultaneously, thanks to our interpreters. Pentecost is fulfilled. The Holy Spirit – Sophia – is upon us and within us. And I hope and pray that during this General Chapter our hearts are set afire! This preaching has a communal dimension as I invited a diverse group of sisters to unite our voices for a common message that carries our hopes and dreams. A Filipino sister offered the following: “The Spirit of God gathers us here, this is a time for us to be renewed, re-awakened and re-connected after two years of the Pandemic. There is so much to be grateful for, as we face significant changes and challenges as well.” A sister in Adrian reminded us that we will get through this together . Another sister reflected: “We have to continually strive to strengthen God’s spirit in our religious life, in our support for each other, and in our service to the people entrusted to our care.” The group of the Dominican Republic shared: Start small again. How it will be? It depends again on us. Let us remember those four women in the Port of New York: an example of lots of faith, and a lot of Hope. Let's keep the vision, we will be less, and the impulse will come from here as we are called to have courage to start over. The opening paragraph of our constitution reads: “Throughout human history God has given love unconditionally to all people, love that is made manifest in different ways and at different times. God’s love is expressed fully in the person the person of Jesus Christ, who is the incarnation of that universal love for all people.” I would like to share my dream for us. And my dream is that before we leave this room, this Holy Ground, before we go out to preach, and announce and denounce, we form a strong beloved community for the sake of our Adrian Dominican legacy and the Mission. I dream that in every conversation we have here, every voice is heard, honored and respected. I dream that no one feels invisible, excluded, or dismissed. That we re-commit to one another by creating a place at the table for everyone. I dream that each one of us will be humble enough to recognize our own implicit biases, so that we don’t impose our truth over the other Sister. For this I pray to the Holy Spirit – Sophia – who is upon us and within us. I believe that the spirits of our Sisters who have gone before us are also here with us. Praying in communion with us. May they be our midwives at this time. Reminding us to keep breathing and pushing. So we can give birth to what is next for us all. I also hope that we claim the Gospel promise like Jesus did by saying: “El Espíritu de Dios está sobre nosotras, y nos ha ungido para anunciar buenas nuevas a los pobres, nos ha enviado a proclamar libertad a los cautivos, dar vista a los ciegos, a poner en libertad a los oprimidos” “Sumasaakin ang Espiritu ng Panginoon, sapagkat hinirang niya ako upang ipangaral ang mabuting balita sa mga dukha. Isinugo niya ako upang ipahayag sa mga bihag ang paglaya at sa mga bulag na sila'y makakita upang bigyang-laya ang mga inaapi, at ipahayag ang pinapagpalang taon ng Panginoon.” “The Spirit of the God is upon us, because she has anointed us to proclaim good news to the poor. She has sent us to proclaim freedom for the prisoners, recovery of sight for the blind, and to set the oppressed free.” As I close my reflection, I want to share the Dominican blessing in light of our awakening : May God give us eyes to see no strangers Ears to hear and listen deeply And hands to do the work of God Feet to walk our talk And a mouth to preach while seeking truth, making peace and reverencing every form of life. Are we AWAKENING to love?