This Advent, Ignatian writers from across the Jesuit Conference are sharing 25 days of reflections on Ignatian heroes. You can receive these reflections directly in your inbox by signing up here.
Day 21: Nathalie Becquart
By Sr. Colleen Gibson, SSJ
Shuffling into a room on the upper floor of a university building this fall, I could feel a buzz in the air. Getting a seat toward the front of the room, I turned to the woman next to me. “Is that her?” I asked, looking toward the podium.
“It is!” my new friend replied gleefully, “I’m such a big fan!” Filled with excitement, we both wiggled in our seats.
It was October 27 and, just hours before, the Vatican had released the “Working Document for the Continental Stage.” Marking the closing of the local stage of the Synod on Synodality, this document bore the fruit of local gatherings around the world, offering a synthesis for movement forward on the synodal path. If that wasn’t enough for one day, we’d gathered in this upper room to hear Sister Nathalie Becquart, XMCJ, one of the architects behind that document, speak about becoming a synodal church.
A member of the Congregation of Xavières, a religious institute rooted in Ignatian spirituality and the work of St. Francis Xavier, Sr. Nathalie serves as under-secretary of the Synod of Bishops, the first woman able to vote during a synod and a key member of the team giving form to the global church’s engagement of the Holy Spirit in the Synod.
From her work with youth in France and gifts as a sailor to her extensive education (she holds degrees in business, sociology and theology) and her role preparing the 2018 Synod on Youth, Sr. Nathalie brings Ignatian spirituality and a keen sense of mission and discernment to all she does. “There is no synodality without spirituality,” she says, “because synodality places at its center the fact of walking together with Christ and listening to the Holy Spirit.”
We journey this path together. “It’s a learning by doing,” Sr. Nathalie reflects, “So, it takes time.”
During these Advent days we take that time and are reminded of the difference such prayerful listening can make — in Mary … in Joseph … in the Magi … in us.
Sr. Nathalie reminds us that it’s not just about having a vote. It’s also about showing up to do the work of being church: speaking truth, acting for justice and giving life to Emmanuel, God-with-us, in our world today.
Reflection: Synodal listening calls us to listen to others and to the Spirit in seeking consensus. How is the Spirit inviting you to listen to others in a way that builds communion and consensus this Advent?
Sister Colleen Gibson, SSJ, is an award-winning writer (check out her blog: beingmyvocation.blogspot.com) and co-host of Beyond the Habit (www.beyondthehabitpod.com), a podcast about moving beyond everyday assumptions of what it means to be Catholic and live the gospel. She is currently pursuing graduate studies at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry and was a member of the founding ministry team of the Sisters of St. Joseph Neighborhood Center (www.ssjnc.org) in Camden, New Jersey.