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.