"If according to times and the need arises to make new rules or do something different do it prudently and with good advice."
St Angela in her last legacy says, "If according to times and the need arises to make new rules or do something different do it prudently and with good advice." Those of us who come many generations later are still proud of such wisdom, independence of spirit and humility. As a result her original foundation has endured for more than 475 years and has made many adjustments to change since that time. It has also given birth to a number of different but related families.
It is not always easy to see how change comes about. Looking back over the past 10 years, through imperceptible shifts most of us have become more careful of our planet, so too in community changes often result from imperceptible shifts in the way we respond to daily life. But there are special times, when we consciously stop, reflect, and take stock of what we are doing and why we are doing it. At these times we evaluate locally, nationally and as a whole institute, and make changes and adjustments as seem appropriate. Sometimes these changes are dramatically evident, as when we changed from formal religious dress to secular clothes and no longer “look like nuns!” - though a surprising number still seem able to identify us! Often the changes we make are not so visible but more far reaching.
This period of specific change is called a General Chapter. In earlier times the emphasis went on what made us alike. We could recognise each other the world over! So our training was similar wherever we lived and our life style very similar. Gradually we have begun to feel the need to redress the balance so the emphasis has gone on the variety and richness we bring to each other. As we travel more we begin to understand and value each country’s culture. So in more recent years we have tried to embrace our DIVERSITY; our different ways of praying, of speaking and thinking and the different styles of government in our countries. We now have regular international and regional meetings of sisters on such topics as the role of women, education in today’s world, Justice and peace issues, and the just distribution of wealth. We have too rotating international commissions so we can share our concerns and help each other spiritually and practically.
In all of this we are greatly enriched by the international range of our Institute.