Amiens is weeping today (aka it’s raining) as it’s our last day. There is a definite difference in the feel this morning. It’s not just me – I could hear far fewer showers going as I struggled to get myself out of bed. I think it will be a day of ‘last things’. Even my teapot has had its last outing as tomorrow we’re catching the 9.17 am train so it will need to be packed before breakfast. I found myself patting it at the thought! 🤪

Morning prayer was special this morning. It included a time of blessing of all the candidates for the ExCo, including our own Michelle, and a time of silent prayer (with music in the background) reflecting on the beauty of the earth, contemplating  the beautiful photos which Aigers (and others) have been posting on the news feed of our app.

Flavio began the morning session by reminding us that we are on the last day of the Assembly, the closing or the opening of the U process, depending on how we want to look at it. This morning would be taken up by elections and this afternoon by the draft document and a short evaluation. He then made everyone laugh by suggesting that after supper we should go to our rooms and remain in silence! We are going to have a party…

Then we moved to the election process, with James O’Brien, one of the outgoing ExCo as a superb MC. More confessions, I thought this would be boring but it was quite remarkable and utterly engaging, done in a profound sense of prayer and community. James set the scene for our discernment and when I receive his slides, I’ll come back and tell you what he said.

There were two candidates for President and every so often these past days a delegate would initiate a conversation about them. It was clear that both were excellent candidates and I had a strong sense that it was very difficult to choose between them. So we all waited with bated breath for the screen to show us the result of the first round of voting. You can see the result in the picture. It was one of those ‘Oh!’ moments and I was not the only one moved to tears. We had two more rounds of voting before Chris Micallef from Malta was declared our new President. Chris has been President of the Euroteam and has served on the ExCo in the past, so he brings a lot of experience to the role. Those of us at the National Assembly met him via Zoom. (And I can’t link to the report because I’ve not written it up yet…😔)

Franklin then was added to the list of those eligible for Vice President and the voting continued with a strong sense of being part of a discerning community. Each time someone was elected, they were welcomed to the ExCo on the stage by James and we raised our hands in blessing on them and on our community. It was very special. In the end, this was the result of the voting. The ExCo comes from all over the world (I’ll add the countries soon) and though it seems as if there are a lot of women, you must balance that with the presence of José sj and Manuel, as you can see from the picture at the top of this post.

I’m off to the 3.00 pm session now to see what our writers have managed to produce.

Midnight

The party is just about still going on and the sound of laughter and song and music is drifting through my window. I still have other posts to write but I want to finish this one before I go to bed.

We now have a copy of the draft final report, rather than just seeing it on the screen. But that came after the session. The writers took us through the draft, which was already excellent and then the floor was opened up for comments – and they came thick and fast. Everyone was very appreciative and the writers took note of every intervention. This continued past the afternoon tea break and we’ve accepted with gratitude that the writers have still some work to do and we are not likely to have the final report until September.

The final part of this session was to thank all sorts of people, most notably the volunteers and the translators (who were also volunteers). I won’t say more about them here as I’m going to do that when I finally manage to write up that wonderful Mass. The volunteers who were still here crowded onto the stage and you can see the banner created by the clowns who on the first day of the Assembly asked us to write ‘hope’ on yellow scarves in our own languages. You’ll be delighted to know that Google translate enabled us to add it in Welsh too.

We moved from the Assembly to our Mass area with volunteers waving ‘silence’ banners, but all in vain. We were all too excited and too full of the joy of the Assembly. (They should have raised their hands in blessing to shut us all up!)

I’m running out of superlatives, but this Mass was a fitting end to the Assembly. It was deeply joy and full of consolation. José sj was our main celebrant, speaking in Spanglish-French, as he described it, switching from one language to the other with great ease, not just in the words of the Mass, but also in the homily which he gave in all three languages to a background of stunning paintings done by Estela from Portugal. I’ll pop one here when the slides become available. I had a strong sense of bereavement as Mass ended. This has been such an amazing experience and I am deeply grateful to CLC in England & Wales for sending me.

That sense of bereavement has been dispelled by conversations over dinner and a wonderful party. We danced, we laughed, we tried to talk (it was very noisy!) and we were so happy in each other’s company. But we can’t build tents and stay on the mountain (although we do have sleeping bags 😃) and already some people have had to head for home. The rest of us go tomorrow.

Don’t stop visiting the website because this isn’t my last post and I’ll go through everything, adding further links, filling in the gaps and inserting more photos.

But now I need to sleep. Oh yes, those sleeping bags? They will be donated to a homelessness charity, which seems a fitting destination for them. Goodnight everyone.