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Mission Sharing in Missieploeg

by Sr. Rita Van Damme, ICM (Ontmoetingsdagen Missieploeg Juli 2013)

These are days full of encounters, for summertime brings home a number of our Belgian sisters still active in various countries.  And the community of the ‘Missieploeg’, headed by Sr. Roos Van Beek, knows how to create an atmosphere wherein everyone finds answers to whatever questions and needs they may have. 



Sisters on home leave not only need to renew the bonding with family and friends, they also need to get in touch with one another.  Sharing stories helps them to feel connected, to strengthen their belonging to a reality bigger than their own mission country, and to the congregation as a whole.  The monthly ‘days of encounter’  are a unique opportunity to answer these needs. 

On July 23, Sr. Marleen Renders, missionary in Guatemala and recently assigned district superior there, shared with us the ins-and-outs of this beautiful country.  

After a short introduction by Sr. Roos, she plunged us into the history, the wealth, the pain, the struggle, and the beauty of this unique part of the world. 

We are there with them, she said time and again, when recounting the stories of the people.  It is not we who do the work, but we have become a support to the many people who truly care for the poorest. 

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It is clear that our sisters are present to people in need,  especially when the country is threatened.  And through the stories of Sr. Marleen we felt the never-ending struggle of these agricultural people against the big mining companies.

We became sharply  aware how  small the number of icm sisters present in this large country has become.  Age and their physical limitations too take their toll…. But hope speaks in the stories of Sr. Marleen while she shared with us her confidence and faith in those simple Guatemaltecan people, who continue to build a better future for their children.

Not only the sisters on home leave, such as Sr. Angele Verstraeten (left), and the community leader, Sr. Roos Van Beeck (middle), but also various sisters of other communities, wanted to be updated on the realities of mission today as it is lived in our congregation. (Seated on the far right is Sr. Magda Meeussen)

Even the eldest ones among our sisters, one of them 99, the other 98 years old, are still fully attentive to  ‘mission today’. 

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Sr. Caroline Boermans (left), and Sr. Maria Claessen, are gripped by the story of Sr. Marleen, especially Sr. Maria who until recently belonged to the mission of Guatemala. 

And how do we, icm’s, ‘digest’ the wealth of this informative session?  With a cup of coffee, of course!

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