Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Disappointment in 2010

One of my biggest disappointments in 2010 was the failure of Congress to pass the Dream Act. Hundreds of thousands of young adults who arrived in the United States with their parents as small children will continue to live in a state of limbo.
They are culturally USA. Their accent is American. I can think of so many who speak with a Southern drawl. They are forced to live in the shadows because of a decision their parents made many years ago. A decision that was supposedly for their benefit!
Many of these young adults have completed college, but cannot practice the career they prepared for because they don’t have the proper documents. Many are working at menial jobs and paying income tax. Yes, paying income tax. If one does not have the proper immigration documents he or she can apply to the Internal Revenue Service for a tax ID number and pay taxes. Many of these young people and their parents and other undocumented persons are also paying into Social Security, keeping it afloat, and presently have no possibility of ever receiving the benefits.
During these days when we read of Mary and Joseph’s flight into Egypt with their newborn, protecting him from Herod’s slaughter, let’s pray for the parents and children who have had to flee their countries for political, economic or other reasons. I hope that you will encourage people you know to learn more about this bill and encourage your representatives in Congress to support it.
For more information please click to read Archbishop Gomez’s statement on the Dream Act as well as the Justice for Immigrants website.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Digital Story of the Nativity

This video was created by a Portuguese company called Excentric. What a great, creative way to tell the Good News today! Any other ideas?
To see the full screen, click on the word HERE.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Meet Sister Sara

Perhaps our most famous Missionary Servant of the Most Blessed Trinity is Sister Sara Butler. Sister Sara is a theologian and holds the Paluch Chair of Theology at the University of St. Mary of the Lake Mundelein Seminary in the Archdiocese of Chicago. She is a member of the International Theological Commission and was an Expert appointed by Pope Benedict at the Synod on the Word of God in 2008. This past summer Sr. Sara was interviewed by Father Thomas Rosica, CSB on Salt and Light TV. In this interview she shares how she met the Missionary Servants, and what attracted her as well as her journey through life as a Missionary Servant of the Most Blessed Trinity.
I think you'll find this interview most interesting.

Another Year

On Sunday the Church entered into the Advent Season. It is also the beginning of a new Liturgical Year.

Advent is known as the season of waiting. Perhaps some of you have been waiting to see if I would ever resume this blog! I do apologize for the delay. I think I can count on my two hands the days I’ve been home in the last two months. I’m looking forward to a long stretch at home this time (well, sort of!)

On Sunday the Pope in his Angelus address gave some interesting points on Advent that I’d like to share with you.

He said he wanted “to reflect on the theme of ‘waiting’ because it involves a profoundly human reality in which the faith becomes, so to say, completely one with our flesh and our heart.

Our whole personal, familial and social existence passes through this dimension of waiting. Waiting is something that is present in a thousand situations, from the smallest and most banal to the most important, which draw us in completely and in the deepest way. Among these, we think of a husband and wife waiting for a child; of waiting for a relative or friend who is coming from far away to visit us; …of waiting for a letter, or of receiving forgiveness.

Every one of us, therefore, especially in this season in which we prepare for Christmas can ask himself or herself: What am I waiting for? For what in this moment of my life, does my heart long? And this same question can be posed at the level of the family, of the community, of the nation. What are we waiting for, together? What unifies our aspirations, what do they have in common? In the time before Jesus’ birth the expectation of the Messiah—that is, of an Anointed one, a descendent of King David, who would have finally liberated the people from every moral and political slavery and have founded the Kingdom of God—was very strong in Israel. But no one could have imagined that the Messiah would be born from a humble girl like Mary, the betrothed of the just man Joseph. Not even she could have thought of it, and yet in her heart the longing for the Savior was so great, her faith and hope were so ardent that he was able to find in her a worthy mother. After all, God himself had prepared her before all time. There is a mysterious correspondence between the waiting for God and the waiting for Mary, the creature “full of grace,” totally transparent to the plan of love of the Most High. Let us learn from her, the woman of Advent, to live with a new spirit in our daily gestures, with the sentiment of a profound expectation that only the coming of God can fulfill.”

What are you waiting for, what are you longing for this Advent?

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Congratulations to the people of Mexico as they celebrate their Bicentennial, the 200th anniversary of their independence from Spain.

These Saints Deserve Our Attention

Today the Church celebrates the feast of Sts. Cornelius and Cyprian. I must admit these are saints to whom I have not given a lot thought. Today at Mass the priest mentioned that St. Cornelius became pope after a fourteen month vacancy in the papacy because of the Roman persecutions. He mentioned how many Christians were martyred because of their refusal to worship the Roman idols.
As a student of the Old Testament my ears perked up when I heard the word idol. Throughout the prophetic literature we hear about the Israelites' constant struggle with idols, their forgetting who was their God.
In the Book of Jeremiah we hear, "goldsmiths are all put to shame by their idols; for their images are false, and there is no breath in them. They are worthless, a work of delusion (Jer 19, 14b-15a).
Each age has its idols. Each one of us has his or her own idols, works of delusion, things that satisfy only temporarily. These are constant struggles, perhaps our addictions. For some it's money, for others consumerism, and then, of course, there's food, alcohol, television, computer, and for some, perfection, a true delusion.
Today we are invited to ask ourselves, "who or what is number one in my life?". We might also ask "who or what has my energy"?
What do you think are the most common idols in 2010?
Sts. Cornelius and Cyprian were longtime friends. Both agreed that those who had denied their faith and out of their fear worshipped idols should be forgiven; however, all in the Church were not of the same mind. Perhaps there was resentment among the families of those of those died for their faith, that others should deny the faith and then be readmitted. Pope St. Cornelius held a Synod in Rome in 252 and ordered the relapsed to be restored to the faith with the usual "medicines of repentance."
Idols and forgiveness. Two issues in the 3rd century. Two issues in the 21st century!
I think I'll be paying more attention to these two saints!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Where Does the Time Go?

Tomorrow is the feast of the Triumph of the Cross. It is also the anniversary of my entrance to the Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity. My classmates and I often wondered what God had in store for us, giving us a feast of the Cross for our entrance day. Our Novice Director later reminded us that is the TRIUMPH of the Cross. This is a big one, since I entered in 1980, it is 30 years. In many ways it seems like yesterday. I ask myself where the time has gone, then I remember all the places I've lived as a Missionary Sister!
I have been conscious of this anniversary all year. Perhaps I mentioned to a friend that this would be my thirtieth year in the Community. Before I knew it in January Kathy was gathering together our mutual friends in her home for a celebration and reunion. Most of us were medical technologists who had worked together. Because of all the moving it has been difficult to keep in touch, but we were able to pick up as if we had seen each other just yesterday. Those are good friends! That was a great way to begin the thirtieth year in the Congregation.
One doesn't persevere on her own! It takes God, of course, and many others. I am truly grateful for the support of my Community. As a Vocation and Formation Director, I am most grateful to my Formators and Vocation Director who put up with me in the moments of doubt and the early years of adjustment to Religious Life. My family, my sisters Margaret and Fran have stood by me through it all. God has placed many "companions on the journey" in my path who continue to remind me of His love and care.
Even though my "job" these days is to encourage women to enter Religious Life and to walk with them as they begin, some people ask me if I would do it again or even if I feel Religious Life has a future. This puzzles me, especially when I think of how in this way of life I've seen God's love revealed to me and to others in the most profound ways. I think apostolic religious life is a marvelous way to grow in the love of God and offers us the ability to express this love in diverse ways, and to invite others to the same regardless of their "calling".
I continue to be inspired by the Sisters in my Community in their commitment to prayer, their missionary spirit, their dedication and their care for one another.
In these past several years I've had the opportunity and privilege to work with Religious of other Congregations in Vocation and Formation projects and programs, and have come to appreciate all we share in common, as well as the great respect for one another's Charisms. Frankly, I just can't understand why people aren't knocking down our doors to join us in this great adventure!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Evangelization Retreat

Another interruption was preparing for the Evangelization Retreat this past weekend. Approximately fifty Hispanic women came to Mother Boniface Spirituality Center for a weekend in which they encountered, as they said, the Living Christ, and themselves.
This retreat was developed by Frs. Vincent Finnerty, CM and Jesus Guadarrama, CM. when the three of us worked in Hispanic Ministry in the Diocese of Charlotte. Father Finnerty was the Diocesan Director and Fr. Jesus was a layman on the team at the time. I had just arrived from almost eight years in Mexico and was soon made responsible for the women's retreats.
Last year through a stroke of Providence, Fr. Jesus and I were both in Philadelphia, so we were asked to begin the women's retreats here. We had our first retreat last September.
Our own Sister Maria Lauren who is part of the Archdiocesan (Phila) Hispanic Ministry Team and I worked with the women on the Team before the Retreat and were Spiritual Guides during the retreat. We were fortunate to have four priests for Confessions and two who also accompanied us throughout the retreat.
For me one of the joys was seeing the fruits of Sister Maria Lauren's missionary labors during her time in South Philadelphia in the women on the retreat. It was obvious how deeply she has touched their lives.
The theme of the retreat was the Woman at the Well (John 4). She was a model for the women to see that no matter what has happened in our lives Our Lord will never reject us. He forgives us, sets us free, and having experienced this love and forgiveness, he calls us to be missionairies, inviting others to experience the same.
Some of the women on the Team have had little formal education, yet they and the conferences they gave were powerful witnesses to the action of God in their lives. They invited the retreatants to experience this same power in their lives.
When the retreat was finished the women got on a bus and headed to South Philadelphia where many of them live and were received by their families who were anxiously waiting to receive these New and Renewed Women.

A Few Interruptions

Please for forgive the interruption in blog posting. One interruption I had was the privilege of accompanying my friend, Sister Sara to her new mission. Going to a new mission is a highlight in a missionary's life. So I was especially privileged to be with Sister Sara as she experienced the bittersweetness, the tears and sad expressions of those bidding her farewell. You could tell she had really left footprints on the hearts of all there. This sadness was compensated for by the warm and joyful reception that greeted her in her new mission.
Sister Sara is just one of several Sisters in the Congregation beginning new missions. The same scene has been repeated with Sisters Susanne, Marie and Jane and Mary Ann. Please keep them and all the other Religious Sisters who are experiencing new beginnings at this time of the year in your prayers.

Friday, August 6, 2010

A Glimpse of Chimalhuacan

The big highlight of my time in Mexico was our Mission Week. Sisters Grace and Maria spent considerable time preparing for this event. Sister Grace worked with two teams. One was the "morning team", because the mornings were spent with adolescents. The "evening team" worked with families. I enjoyed being with both teams and was deeply impressed with their leadership capabilities, especially the young people who worked with the adolescents. Some of them were almost the same age as the people with whom they were working. More about these teams later.

I just thought I'd give a little background on Chimalhuacan. It is in the State of Mexcio, but considered to be part of Metropolitan Area of Mexico City. In fact, when I was returning by metro and bus to Chimalhuacan from Mexico City, I followed the signs that said "autobuses suburbanos" (suburban buses). Let me tell you the word suburban took on a whole new meaning for me! When I think suburb, I tend to think tree-lined streets, front lawns, you get the picture. Chimalhuacan would shatter any preconceived notions of the word suburb. It is an area of close to one million people. It is built on what was once a lake. It has become heavily populated in recent years as people left rural areas of Mexico seeking jobs and better educational opportunities for their children. In fact, one encounters a similar population in Chimalhuacan to what I found in southeast Alabama, people from the states of Guerrero, Oaxaca and Puebla. As families settled in Chimalhuacan, the government provided the land and the people constructed the houses. Since there was little money to begin with, the houses as you will see are very humble and simple. Chimalhuacan is very close to the "basureros", the garbage dumps. One of the saddest sights you will see are shacks made out of carton which house people who make their livelihood going through the dumps. What we consider garbage is a big industry in Chimalhuacan. Nothing is so deteriorated that it can't be repaired!
I'm attaching a power point presentation with photos of Chimalhuacan. I'm sorry I didn't get the very busy business districts with modern stores, and that the weather didn't cooperate either. On the outskirts of Chimalhuacan, you'll see globalization in action with many stores that you'd find in a U.S. mall. (That's a story for another day!) My intention with these photos is not to paint a bleak picture, but in order you might capture the resilience of a people for whom hope gushes through their veins, not a plastic or dreamy hope, but one that enables them, in spite of many adverse conditions, to get up every day and forge ahead for a better life for themselves and their children, and even for people they don't really know. Chimalhuacan is a place that is fertile ground for drugs and violence among those who haven't learned to hope. I am very proud of our Church and my religious community, the Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity. Both serve as beacons of hope for this strong and beautiful people. Please click here

Friday, July 30, 2010

A Few Good Women

In most religious communities it is the practice to have young women who are in Temporary Vows have some annual input regarding spirituality, religious life, etc. This summer Sister Janet returned to the Motherhouse from her mission in Hispanic Ministry in Alabama for a workshop with Brother Loughlan Sofield, ST on Conflict in Community. "Conflict in a Religious Community"? you might ask. Well just in case it happens! The truth is wherever two or more are gathered, sooner or later there's bound to be some conflict. That's part of the human condition. Brother Loughlan, from our Brother Community is a world famous presenter on issues regarding Community Life, and has written books on the topic as well as others on collaboration in ministry. He provided these young women with skills they need not only within their community life but in their ministry and other dealings as well.

Sister Janet was joined by our own Sister Christine who recently professed final vows as well as several Sisters of the Holy Redeemer. They are some of the "few good women" who have listened to the promptings of the Holy Spirit in their lives and know that religious life in community is a wonderful way of living out the gift of one's life, growing in holiness and serving God's people.

Pardon my silence

Please forgive my silence. Unfortunately, when I returned from Mexico I brought back a respiratory infection. I thought it was just an allergy and tried to fight it as we had some young women in formation with us for several days. I finally capitulated and called the doctor who prescribed some heavy duty antibiotics which zapped my energy. Now that I am moving along the road to recovery I hope to finally share the highlights and some more photos of this adventure.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

All Good Things Must Come to an End!

It is hard to believe that my time in Mexico has ended. In some ways it feels like three months rather than almost three weeks since I left our Cenacle in Philadelphia. The time was so full with many memorable experiences. I'll spend the next few days sharing some of them as well as some of the many photos I took.
I left a bit exhausted, well, more than a bit, but truly blest and exhilarated by the experience and so proud of the beautiful work our Sisters are doing in this mission. Sister Maria has more than 1500 children in her religious education program and works with at least 75 catechists, and that's only part of her work! Sister Grace directs the many aspects of the social ministry of the mission. Both Sisters are involved in Evangelization efforts and leadership development, and both generously found time to work in these "extra" programs this past week and accompanied the young women and myself in the Mission Week, eating, praying, reflecting and working (not necessarily in that order!). Who could ask for more??!!
(I just couldn't get these photos in order. The first one is from the air looking down at Mexico City. You get an idea of how densely populated this City is.)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

You Haven't Been to See My Mother!

Last week Sister Maria informed me that she was surprised that I had been here in Mexico more than a week, and still hadn't been to see her mother. Sister Maria's mother lives in California, but she was referring to the woman many Mexican people affectionately refer to as "Mama Lupita", Our Lady of Guadalupe. Usually, one of the first things that I do when I arrive in Mexico is to visit the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
This shrine is not known for major miracles like Our Lady of Lourdes in France, but I believe that most people who go there do experience the tenderness of a mother who cares for them. In fact, one of the phrases written on the walls inside and outside of the Basilica contains the words of Mary when she appeared to Juan Diego, "Am I not here as your mother?" The building seats about ten thousand people, and is generally full. One of the miracles for me is that you can be in the midst of so many people and still experience a deep sense of peace. Of course, the other miracle is the authenticity. The tilma on which Our Lady of Guadalupe left her image has survived bombings, scientific investigations, the supression of Catholicism and almost 500 years!
And so it is that after the birth of a child, parents take him or her to the "Villa" as it is known here, for their "Mother" to see. People are often seen approaching the entrance on their knees to complete a "promesa", a promise they have made for a favor received. While there may or may not be many major miracles, perhaps the miracle is that people living in very difficult circumstances find the strength to carry on. Maybe that's what mothers do best, give their children hope and encouragement to continue believing in themselves in spite of many difficulties and obstacles in their lives.
Please know I remembered all of you, family, friends, Community, women discerning their vocation and especially our benefactors who make possible all we do, in this holy place.
The first photo is a view from path pilgrims' walk. The building in the back is the previous shrine. It became too small to hold the crowds and also was sinking from earthquake damage.
The second is the new Basilica (cir 1970). The third is the inside of the Basilica.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

5000 Jovenes

Saturday night it was back to Chimalhuacan for the Sunday gathering of 5000 adolescents and young adults. Needless to say it was a very lively day. Sister Grace and Brother Jaime from our Brother community accompanied me and we were available to answer questions about our Communities and share our publicity with all interested. I had my "five minutes of fame" as I got to share with the crowd a little about what being a Missionary Sister has meant for me.
I was very struck by the content of the speakers' presentations. It made me realize how the entire world is filled
with violence. One of the presenters spoke about a young man from Morelia in Michoacan, which is one of the most beautiful and traditional cities in Mexico. On Independence Day in Mexico, September 16, two years ago, this young man set off a grenade during the parade. A number of people were killed. When asked what he was doing five minutes before this action, he said he was eating a hamburger. An unbelievable immunity to violence and its consequences.
The issue of suicide was also addressed. These are not happening in situations of extreme poverty, quite the
contrary, more so among middle and upper class families. I realize that the roots of this violence and sense of hopelessness are multiple and complex, but I hope that many, especially in our Churches will reach out, as the Church of Chimalhuacan did on Sunday, to our youth and help them realize what a precious gift is life, especially theirs, and somehow they will realize that each one of them has a future full of hope.

First picture, youth gatherine in groups. Second picture, Sister Grace Ramond with Brother Jaime, from our Brother Community. Sister Grace is from Brooklyn, NY, and is in her first year in Chimalhuacan. Third, me in my "five minutes of fame".

More on the Weekend

Last Saturday three young women traveled Temascalapa to "Meet the Trinitarians". Each one is already serving as a catechist in Sister Maria Rincon's religious education program in Chimalhuacan. They truly enjoyed being in the "campo" where is there is so much green and it is very tranquil, quite different from Chimalhuacan! In spite of our small number we had a great day. Besides, any Vocation Director is very happy when several people put aside a day to learn more about religious life, and their Community. The photos will have to wait until later. I thought all camera USB connectors were the same. Not so!!! We have a great picture of ourselves in the gazebo of the plaza in Temascalapa in the rain!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Kind of Home Coming

The past few days have been quite full. Friday night the Missionary Cenacle Apostolate and I were also accompanied by six soon to be novices in our brother community. Five of them are from Columbia and one from Central America. They are receiving an orientation to Novitiate as well as getting acquainted with the country in which they'll be living for at least the next year.
We had a wonderful conversation on Mission, and especially how Mission for us in the Cenacle is lived out in the providence of our everyday life. This was such a wonderful insight of Father Judge. He noticed early on his priesthood that when people returned to the Church or to a deeper life with God, it was generally not through a priest or a religious, but through a neighbor, a coworker, or perhaps a friend. He said, What is meant by the providence of his everyday life? You meet certain people, you have contact with certain persons or places, your life has a certain circumscription, God overshadowing and intervening in all. This is called your daily providence. It is yours indeed; it does not belong to anybody else. Like the skin on your face it is yours personally, nobody else ever had it, nobody else ever will have it. Everyone of us is a center of a particular bit of Divine Providence.
It is so true, when we arise in the morning, we don't know what awaits us, or whom we'll encounter during the day. One thing is almost certain, no two of us will have the same interactions during the day.
There was much discussion about all the opportunities each one of us has to be a missionary in our everyday life.. Being with our lay branch, the Missionary Cenacle Apostolate always inspires me, and it was great to be back in Temascalapa, a kind of coming home for me.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

On the the air...again!

At 6 a m. yesterday I left our Cenacle in Philadelphia to head for Mexico. Sr. Beth graciously took me to the airport. I was met at the airport in Mexico City by Don Baltazar, one of the workers at the parish in Chimalhuacan. Baltazar is more than a worker, he’s the backbone of many of the movements in the parish, and is also a member of the Missionary Cenacle Apostolate, the lay branch of our religious family. A long-time resident of Chimalhuacan, he is so valuable in helping the staff understand this region. We had an interesting conversation on Mexico's War on Drugs as we braved the Mexico City traffic. When I arrived at our Cenacle here, it was after 6 p.m., almost twelve hours door to door. I’m grateful to my two “chauffeurs” for braving the traffic.

As I was heading South, Sr. Olivia was heading North. She was returning to Philadelphia from a couple of weeks in the South where among other things, she worked with our Sisters and some volunteers and did the Trinita Family Weekend. She stayed in Philadelphia only long enough to get a short night’s sleep and pick up her already packed suitcase and head to Trinita in New Hartford, CT, where she will be assisting with the summer program there for several weeks. You’ll be hearing more about the Trinita Summer Program later.

As for myself, I’m looking forward to several exciting weeks here in Mexico. On Friday evening I’ll be in Temascalapa where I worked for more than five years, with our lay group for an evening of reflection. Saturday, hopefully, will be with several young women for a “Come and Meet the Trinitarians” day. On Sunday, back in Chimalhuacan, where I’m told I will be with approximately 5,000 young adults for a retreat. The official title of the day is “A New Missionary Generation”. That should be something!! I’ve been asked to give a brief talk. Please pray for that. Next week the Sisters and I will be getting ready for the Mission Week the following week. Several young women will be joining us for a week that consists of a Bible School for children in the mornings and, you guessed it, the Trinita Family Program in the evenings. You must be thinking that Trinita Program is everywhere! Well, not quite, but it is a wonderful program, and once people know about it, they want it where they are. I’ll be sharing about that and the other programs and activities with you in the coming weeks.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

It's never too soon.... It's never too love like crazy!

Last Wednesday I had the privilege to be with about 50 girls from various parishes in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, several Vocation Directors and a number of parents and volunteers. We were at the St. Joseph in the Hills Retreat House in Malvern, PA for the Goretti Girls Vocation Conference. Sisters Genevieve and Christine also accompanied us.

St. Maria Goretti is the patron of adolescent girls and vocations. She was the victim of an attempted sexual assault. She resisted her attacker and he began stabbing her with a knife, but what is truly important is that she forgave him, even beyond her death! Alexander rejected her forgiveness until one night he had a dream that he was in a garden and she gave him flowers. When he awoke, he was a changed man. He repented of his crime and reformed his life. Twenty seven years later he was released from prison, and was in the crowd at St. Peter's to celebrate her canonization. Maria Goretti truly mirrored the love and forgiveness of Jesus. Crazy by this world's standards, but our ideal as Christians. That's the reason "love like crazy" is on the T-shirts we received.
The girls were in the sixth through eighth grades and made a deep impression on all the adults with their great spirit, their devotion and their interest and enthusiasm for all the activities of the day.
They had opportunities for Mass, Confession, arts and crafts, outdoor games and, of course, several conferences. They also had time to ask the Sisters anything they wanted to know about us and our Communities. The questions ranged from, "how long does it take to become a Sister?" or "how did you know this life was for you?" to "what's your favorite TV program?".
You could tell that as young as they are these girls are already thinking about life choices. It's never too soon to do that! My hope is that each one will continue to think, pray and reflect on how she is going to spend the great treasure that is her life so that she can serve God and God's people in the way that is best for her. One Sister put it so well when she said, "I believe this is where I can be the best me".
And isn't all of life like this to some extent? We need to continue to ask ourselves every day, "where and how I can best serve God and God's people today and in the days and months and years ahead". That's part of "loving like crazy". It's never too late to do that!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

No Ordinary Time; No Ordinary People

On the Monday after the Feast of Pentecost (May 23) the Church returned to the liturgical season called Ordinary Time. The other seasons are Advent, Christmas, Lent, Holy Week and Easter. As we can see from the image, the greater part of the Church Year is spent in Ordinary Time. Isn't that true for life in general? Most of us don't have a lot of "major feasts" or "high points" in our lives. However, the way we respond to the everyday tasks of life and our responsibilities to God, our families, Communities, friends, employers, etc. as well as the way we treat the people with whom we come in contact, that is what defines us, not the 'high points" of our lives.
It is so appropriate that as we reenter Ordinary Time, the daily Gospel readings are from the Sermon on the Mount. On Monday we heard the Beatitudes in which Jesus tells us what makes us truly happy. Yesterday we heard that we are the "salt of the earth", that we should "let our light shine and not place it under a bushel basket". Some of the people whose light has shone for me in my life have been people who are unknown to most of the world, and truly have very little, but have lived their ordinary lives in such an extraordinary way that they absolutely radiate joy. They are the "salt of the earth"; they live out the Sermon on the Mount; they are no Ordinary People.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Sister Christine's Journey to Final Profession

As promised, I'll continue to work backwards! A big highlight for me this year was Sister Christine Ma's Final Profession. The following is an account of her journey to this special day.

On March 25, 2010, Sister Christine Ma, MSBT professed Perpetual Vows as a Missionary Servant of the Most Blessed Trinity at the Community's Motherhouse in Northeast Philadelphia.
Sister Christine was born in Hong Kong, and is the youngest of five children. She came to the United States with her mother and sister when she was ten years old. They were soon joined by her father and brothers.
Sister Christine's parents were originally from mainland China. Not allowed to have a Bible in China, Sister Christine's mother, Sun Tai, said that when she arrived in Hong Kong the first thing she would do would be to obtain a Bible, and then she would choose a religion. Sun Tai was drawn toward the Catholic
Church. Eventually, Sister Christine's father, Yim Kwai, and other family members also embraced the Catholic Faith.
After about twelve years in Hong Kong, in order to have a better future for their children, Yim Kwai and Sun Tai decided to immigrate to New York.
Sister Christine received a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration from Pace University in New York. Before entering the Missionary Servants she worked as an accountant for the City of New York.
Sister Thomasmari Gore, MSBT, a Trinitarian Sister who was a campus minister at New York University, regularly met with a group of women, one of whom was a friend of the future Sister Christine and invited her to join the group. Sister Thomasmari later invited Christine to meet the Sisters who lived with her on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The Sisters were also involved with the Trinita Summer Family Life Program at the Congregation's mission in Connecticut. They invited her to be a volunteer the following summer. This program offers inner city families an opportunity to be away together in a joyful atmosphere and to explore ways to improve their family relationships. Having enjoyed this experience so much, she then volunteered for a year at St. Joseph Pro-Cathedral in Camden, N.J. where she worked as a computer lab teacher. At a mid-year retreat for volunteers one of the Sisters asked her if she had ever considered Religious Life. That Sister's question sparked something in Christine which led her to explore religious life, and especially the Missionary Servants.
To pursue her new vocation, Sister Christine spent a year of discernment in Pensacola, FL where she lived and worked with the Sisters in Catholic Social Services. Other years of her Formation included parish ministry in Rock Hill, SC, prison and nursing home ministry in Mobile, AL as well as parish and school ministry in Kingston, Jamaica.
Sister Christine just completed a program for Clinical Pastoral Education at Albert Einstein and Holy Redeemer Hospitals in Philadelphia.
Sister Christine is grateful to be called to live her entire life glorifying the Triune God as a Missionary Servant of the Most Blessed Trinity. Sister Christine with her family

(Portrait photo by Carl Casella, Phila, PA)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Labor of Love

You are probably wondering if the "silence" has really ended! I have spent several days trying to work out some kinks in the blog with You Tube. Sometimes the selected You Tube channel does not show, and in its place some rather grotesque looking images have appeared. I think it is okay now, but if not, please forgive me. You should be seeing a video of our recent retreat in Mexico as well as the Vatican You Tube.

We had a surprise visit from Sister Audrey, our Motherhouse Coordinator, the other day. Sister Audrey is responsible for the Sisters who live in the building that we call the Motherhouse. Our infirmary is in that building. Many of the Sisters who are no longer in active ministry, but are assigned to the Ministry of Prayer also live there. It is where we who live in the Mother Boniface building attend Mass and have some of our meals. It is a hub of activity, and Sister Audrey, a registered nurse, has a lot of responsibility and is a very busy woman.

So, what a surprise to see her walk in to our Cenacle with this gorgeous fruit basked which she had made herself, starting with spray painting the basket. The green is kale. The leaves are from the pineapples. Some of the fruit was held in place with peanut butter! Sr. Audrey's creativity knows no bounds.
The reason for this delectable delight? In January Sister Olivia and I gave a presentation on our Vocation/Formation Program to the Sisters in the Motherhouse. Sr. Audrey had been looking for a way to express their gratitude. A great cook and baker, she was told that "they are always on diets, but they do like fruit"! Imagine! It didn't take too long for us to demolish this basket. Thanks a million, Audrey for this "labor of love"!

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Silence is Over

As they say in Mexico, "mil disculpas" or a thousand apologies for the silence. The good news is that life has been full; the downside is that there hasn't always been time to write about all that is happening.
Rather than "start at the very beginning" like Maria in the Sound of Music, I think I'll work backwards beginning with last week's vocation discernment retreat in Chimalhuacan, Mexico.
We were a small group of four retreatants and myself. Sisters Maria and Grace Raymond joined us when they were able. Weekends are a very busy time in parishes, and Sister Maria had several First Communion and Confirmation retreats that weekend. However, what seemed to missing in numbers was more than compensated for in enthusiasm.
We talked about decision making and discernment in general. All were in agreement that each day is full of decisions to be made and no decision is inconsequential.
We also talked about how to maintain our spiritual lives. Two great tools are Lectio Divina and the evening Examen. We reviewed and practiced both of these wonderful spiritual exercises.
Please pray for these wonderful young women who made this retreat that Lord bring to completion what He has begun in them.
The video sidebar contains pictures of this weekend.