Living Everyday As Disciples

It is perfectly true that a call to lead is a call to discipleship. Because leaders are followers and continue to be followers, learners, disciples to the Ultimate Leader – Jesus. The Bible tells us that Jesus called, chose and invited Peter to take up the responsibility of the shepherd, as well as enter into a deeper affective relationship with him. “Do you love me?... Feed my lambs…Do you love me?... Take care of my sheep…Do you love me?... Feed my sheep…” and then he said to Peter: “Follow me” (John 21: 15-19). Peter understood well that he then was a shepherd of the sheep as well as the follower, the disciple of Jesus. These two calls are intertwined and cannot be separated.

JPEG - 2.7 MbIn the same way, on the Good Shepherd Sunday, April 25, 2021, Jesus, the Good Shepherd, has chosen three of his disciples, namely Sr. Anima Suman, Sr. Teresa Xuan and Sr. Maria Loan to be shepherds of the Region of Our Lady of Lavang, Vietnam. The installation of the Regional team took place in the chapel of Placide House, in the virtual presence of Sr. Lucy Jacob Palliam Pallithura, our Superior General, all the General Councilors, the sisters in Generalate community, Legazpi community (Philippines), St. Bernard community (Bao Loc, Vietnam) and the actual presence of the rest of the Region.

The chapel was elegantly decorated with the symbol and the theme of GC/2017, “SCJM, do you love me?... Feed my sheep!”. The liturgists led all of us to the reflective mood of prayer and deep sense of gratitude. We were thankful to God for choosing leaders who will serve, animate and lead us to further growth and flourishment. We were grateful to our General Government who listened attentively to the Holy Spirit and responded to His will by being with us, animating us, accompanying us all through the process and celebrating with us today. We were sincerely grateful to our sisters: Sr. Suman, Sr. Xuan and Sr. Loan for being open to God’s invitation and ready to take up the responsibility of a shepherd and an ardent disciple of Jesus with pure joy and complete dedication.

In the atmosphere of praise and thanksgiving, Sr. Lucy Jacob, our Superior General read the appointment letter to appoint Sr. Anima Suman as Regional Superior, Sr. Teresa Xuan and Sr. Maria Loan as Regional Councilors for a mandate of four years (April 2021 – April 2025). In a sacred manner, she delegated Sr. Michael to anoint the newly regional leadership team with oil as a sign of being chosen by God and his people. After the anointment, Sr. Michael handed to the team the shepherd staff as a symbol of authority and responsibility, which includes caring of the well-being of the sheep, nurturing and leading the flock to the fullness of life in God’s love, correcting and challenging what is not right according to the values of the Kingdom. It is also a vivid and powerful reminder to the new team to look up to Jesus and imitate him in tending and feeding the sheep. In other words, it is taking up leadership in Jesus’ style: servant leadership, contemplative leadership and transformative leadership.

From left to right - De gauche à droite - Van links naar rechts:
Sr. Maria Loan, Sr. Suman Anima Toppo, Sr. Teresa Xuan

The final ritual was deeply moved and touching. As newly appointed leader of the Region, Sr. Suman, with a staff in her hand, led all of us in procession. It implied her leadership role and we, as members, followed her lead with trust, support, and cooperation, in the spirit of coresponsibility and active participation. The nomination ceremony ended with the hymn “Shepherd me O God”. Its meaningful lyrics and lovely melody filled the place with assurance and tranquility. It also recaptured the meaning of being a shepherd, which is first to be a sheep in the arms of Jesus. Amazingly, it inflamed in each one’s heart the stronger desire to be the beloved disciple of Jesus as we all sang together: “Shepherd me O God, beyond my fears, beyond my wants, from death into life.”

Sr. Teresa Xuan, SCJM
(Region of Our Lady of La Vang, Vietnam)

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