Dear sisters and brothers,
First, let me also on behalf of Srs. Beatrix, Dionysia, and Theodora say welcome to all of you: The Dutch Provincial Council, the Indonesian Provincial Council, the Coordinating Committee of Region Malawi, our facilitators, the interpreters, the secretariat staff, and all who are involved with this meeting.
To members coming from Holland and Malawi, we hope that you already have been adapted to the situation, the weather, and the new environment here at Lawang. 

We are grateful and say thanks to you for your presence, and so the 24th GCO meeting can be performed at Lawang – Indonesia.
Especially to the Indonesian Provincial Council and all its members, we sincerely appreciate and thank you for your openness and kindness in receiving us and for your efforts to host this meeting.
Of course we will benefit this golden occasion to get better acquainted with our Indonesian sisters. For that, we have asked to the attraction section to give us the young generation, novices and sisters from Probolinggo and Lawang community. When we don’t have meetings, we also give the change to the guests to visit communities or to introduce the environment around Lawang.

It is a big pity that due to her physical condition, Sr. Martina, member of the Dutch Provincial Council is not present in this meeting. And two other facilitators namely Mrs Lia Vergouwen and Mr Guus van Loenen are also hindered to attend this meeting. All three persons have actively dedicated themselves with the preparation of this meeting. Although physically they are not present now, but in a way they intensively involve themselves in deepening the themes of the formation days for the councils, and in giving reactions on the papers prior to this meeting.

We welcome Father Henk Bloem, facilitator to the General Council, a new face attending our General Consultative Organ meeting. We hope that you soon would feel at home to be among us. Together with Mrs Dicky Bos, and Mrs. Retno Priyani, we invite you the three of you to facilitate and accompany the process of this GCO meeting.

Father Norbert Halsema SJ, a well-known person to us who is now living in Amsterdam, has travelled via Yogyakarta – his former home town – and comes to us to lead our discussions.

To make us easily express ourselves in our own languages, we have invited interpreters to help us. They are Mrs. Ancilla, Father Hariawan O. Carm, Father Raymundus SVD and Sr. Jeanne OSU. We like to say special thanks to sr. Jeanne for her willingness to be our translator in this meeting, notwithstanding the relative short term we contacted her.
We invite all of you to be our discussion conveyor in plenums and in small groups if necessary.

Renny Zwaagstra, our secretary, in collaboration with the secretaries of the Dutch Provincial Council – Pauline Flinkerbush and Thera Mulder, and Sr. Angelita, the secretary of the Indonesian Provincial Council have organised the meeting accurately and well. Together with Sr. Lucidia and Pak Kisno, and guided by sr. Mariani, you are the person in charge of the secretarial affairs including the written translations when needed in the plenary sessions.
We also thank Sr. Monika and the staff of the formation house St. Julie Billiart for the hospitality in receiving us and in providing everything we need. And last but not least we thank everyone who is directly involved in preparing this meeting.

On basis of the general chapter 2006’s recommendation, we now perform this 24th GCO meeting as preparation of general chapter 2010, mainly to prepare General and Provincial/regional chapters in 2010. In the last months the Dutch Provincial Council has been busy preparing the provincial chapter and the Malawian Region will perform its regional chapter in December 2009.

In conformation with the content of the Statutes no 20.1:
‘The General Consultative Organ guards and promotes the unity of the congregation. In the General Consultative Organ, experience and vision are exchanged and collaboration on the international level finds concrete form’

as Councils we collegially want to step together giving form to a part of our task and responsibility, especially conform to the content of the Statutes no. 21.5:
‘The General Consultative Organ, after considering the input of the various provinces/region to determine the topics that we will discuss in the general chapter based on suggestions from the other provinces/region, suggests the subjects for discussion at the General Chapter’.

To meet your expectations, as General Council we like to involve you all totally from the initial preparations. So the main topics we discuss during the sessions can be outlined and be worked out in the particular provinces/region.
We hope that your active involvement in this meeting will be fruitful and in the light of God’s Spirit we can reach the goals of this meeting. For all of the sisters from the province of Indonesia, we are grateful and say thank you because during August 2009 you have prayed for us with special intentions. Your presence today gives us strength.

We wish all of you much success, and may our meeting and the togetherness we build now bring new inspiration to finish the pilgrimage we are making together now.
Finally, I herewith declare the General Consultative Organ’s meeting open now.

 Lawang, August 9, 2009
The General Council