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)