February 11, 2017
I am back in Rome after 3 wonderful weeks in our mission in the Philippines. That’s a long way away if you’ve never made the trip! For those of you who have never been there, I will share a little of my experience. For those of you who have been there, perhaps I can remind you of some of the memories from your visit. First, their lovely chapel evidences a very Filipino environment. For example, picture #1 is the tabernacle, the Lord’s “house” is a typical native Filipino construction. The benches, lectern and stands all have the simulated bamboo that you see on the stand supporting the tabernacle. Next is the mission itself: 14 lovely women and girls are in residence there with educational programs either in Margaretha Home or in a local school: elementary, high and vocational. Picture #2 was taken as they performed for SCC Day and Chinese New Year. Twice we went shopping at one of the many malls near our mission. The residents know what they need and are helped, not only by staff, but by the store employees. Picture #3. I also had the opportunity to experience the Filipino culture: eating fresh coconut (picture #4) and, for Chinese New Year, making Chinese dumplings with Sister Clementia who lives with our Sisters during the week and ministers at Margaretha Home. Picture #5. I visited the inactive Volcano Taal and watched the residents and staff perform the traditional Filipino dance, tinikling, picture # 6. If you have the time, I can share with you on my next visit, the extravagant malls and the dire poverty. The residents of Margaretha Home are truly blessed to have the Sisters and staff who love them and have given them a chance for a productive and spiritually grounded life.
While here in Rome, I have been very fortunate to work with some very dedicated people in the area of peace and justice. I am attaching a summary that I did with reference to an area of interest of mine since I have been part of the Integrity of Creation Work Group. Lead by Sister Sheila Kinsey, FCJM and Father Felix Mushobozi, CPPS, the Work Group is a Committee of the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission, an organization of the USG (Union of Superiors General [men]) and the UISG (International Union of Superiors General [women]). I would be very happy for any feedback on the article I wrote or the video that is suggested as part of the article. If you are aware of any activity by companies engaged in mining and their response to the needs of the environment, people as well as resources, I would be happy to have that information. Prayer is always an appropriate response to what is happening in the environment.
I am also part of a group preparing for the annual Lenten Prayer Day for English speaking religious here in Rome. The day is scheduled for March 4 and will be led by Daughter of Saint Paul, Sister Bernadette Reis. It will be a time of Lectio Divina with the title “Before the Burning Bush—Women on Fire with God’s Love”. The day includes the opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation and Liturgy for the First Sunday of Lent.
Also on the calendar is the invitation by the German speaking group of UISG to join them once a month for Dance Prayer. The group has been doing this for some time and has now extended the opportunity for prayerful dance to all religious. I will let you know more after this Wednesday, the first gathering.
From March 8 to April 5, I will be in the States and have the opportunity to visit with all of you personally. I will spend 10 days in the Western Region as their Canonical Treasurer and then be in the East for the Spring Assembly. No need to add that I am looking forward to seeing all of you. With that in mind, I will close this communication.
With much love and asking a blessing for each of you as we approach the holy season of Lent,
Sr. Joanne - Philippines
The days of the Enlarge Council are over and most of the members have left for their respective provinces/regions. Now I must bring you up-to-date on the happenings here in Rome for myself and the Sisters living in Villa Paolina.
I see that my last update was prior to April 26 so there is all of May and a few weeks of June to share with all of you.
On May 7th the members of the Generlate visited the Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood. This was a friendly visit so we could see the smaller residence that the Sisters had moved into and share a building with another community.
Picture #1 is of Sister Ingeborg, the Superior General and our Sister Angelika. Of course, coffee and cake were
on the agenda! This is the Community whose Sisters haveattended Assumption College for Sisters.
In a previous Update I suggested that you watch the video “Flin Flom Flim Flam (Hudbay’s Hoax)” a documentary of the injustices perpetrated by this company and their plans to open a mine in Arizona. Here is another video that can also be viewed on YouTube, also about the mining industry and its effects on the people in the area and the environment: “Eyes That See, Hearts That Feel.” This video is in Spanish but with English subtitles. In our JPIC meetings here in Rome, the effect that mining, whether it be precious metals, gas or oil, has on the environment is often the topic of discussion. The process often pollutes the water supply in the area but even worse, the lives of people are changed as their land is often taken from then when they do not wish to move and the labor used in the mines is often trafficked labor.
On May 13 the parish across the street, our parish church, celebrated the feast of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament. (Picture #2 of the statue is inside the church). It is the Blessed Sacrament Fathers who staff the church. There were two Masses celebrated that day—one in the morning and one in the evening—with many people attending. After the evening Mass, the parishioners gathered for a pot luck supper in the garden of the Blessed Sacrament Fathers. (Picture #3 gives some idea of the venue. Sister Clarentia made her famous pizza and here chats with one of the parishioners before the crowd descended on the food.)
Sister Angelika, Sister Maria de los Angeles and I attended an evening of music presented by the priests and seminarians at the Pontificium Collegium Germanicum et Hungaricum (the house of studies for those speaking German and Hungarian). This took place on May 14th. The musical talent was superb and the choral music was lively and fun, even if we did not know what the words were. (Picture #4)
A second concert took place on May 19th at the Church of St. Ignatius. This consisted of a full orchestra of young musicians….I might add VERY talented. At this concert there was also a group of singers which performed. Sister Angelika, Sister Adalberta and I attended this concert.
As a gift for Sister Angelika’s 40th jubilee and in thanksgiving for Sister’s many years of service in the Generalate, the members of the General Council made a pilgrimage to Mentorella. (Picture #5 might give you an idea of how high we were at the monastery.)On the way we stopped at San Pastore belonging to the Pontificium Collegium Germanicum et Hungaricum and viewed the famous “Mahl der Sünder” by Sieger Köder. (Picture #6) Sister Angelika could give a wonderful explanation of the picture. Google explains it well.
On May 21, the Sisters of Villa Paolina joined the annual Associates’ pilgrimage—this year to Manoppello and Sulmona. Just to whet your appetite about Manoppello, here is some brief information. Much more could be found by googling “Manoppello”. “According to local tradition, an anonymous pilgrim arrived in Manopello in 1508 with the cloth wrapped in a package. The pilgrim gave the package to Dr. Giacomo Antonio Leonelli, who was sitting on a bench in front of the church. The doctor went into the church and unwrapped the package, discovering the veil. He immediately left the church to find the pilgrim but could not trace him. The veil was owned by the Leonelli family for a century. In 1608, Pancrazio Petrucci, a soldier married to Marzia, a member of the Leonelli family, stole the veil from his father-in-law’s house. A few years later, Marzia sold it for 400 scudi to Doctor Donato Antonio De Fabritiis to pay a ransom demand for her husband who was a prisoner in Chieti. The veil was given by De Fabritiis to the Capuchins who hold it today. This history has been documented by Father Donato da Bomba in his “Relatione historica” and is based on research that had been started in 1640.” The day included a meal at Costa del Gallo. Everyone enjoyed the day very much. (Picture #7 is of the Face of Christ as it appears on the veil). We then travelled to Sulmona “the confetti” capital of the world---not confetti as we know it but what we call “Jordan Almonds” arranged as flowers. Picture #8 will give you some idea of them.
On May 16, I attended an all-day workshop on “Conflict Analysis for Religious”. The program was sponsored by the US Embassy to the Vatican and led by members of the US Institute of Peace (USIP) from Washington, DC. Although it was directed to religious communities working in areas of the world where violence is an everyday occurrence, the means of conflict resolution could be adapted to any situation of conflict. Dr. Maryann Cusimano Love gave a presentation via closed circuit video as she could not travel having broken her foot! You may recognize her name as a writer for America.
This update has gotten long enough. You are probably wishing I would come to an end. And so I will and pick up with June on my next “visit” with you.
May the summer months bring some refreshment and relaxation. I hope to see all of you in either August or September.
My love and prayers come along tucked inside this letter.
So much has happened in the last 6 weeks. I will begin this update with the most recent events and make my way backwards. You are all aware that last week we hosted our Associate coordinators and a representative from each of our units. (Picture #1) The week was a rhythm of prayer, pilgrimage, discussion and proposals. The final session on Saturday brought to conclusion 3 recommendations that will be presented to the Enlarged Council when they arrive in one month and suggestions as to how the Congregation—Sisters and Associates--could celebrate Mother Pauline’s 200th birthday. Beginning with an ice breaker where each participant received one half of one of Mother Pauline’s maxims, she needed to find the person with the other half and find out something about her. Each participant then introduced her partner, telling something she had learned about her. The days ended with the group, in a large circle, and one person tossing a roll of string to someone else in the circle as the one who was tossing held her end of the string and called the name of another person in the circle as she tossed it to her. The connections made by the string were only a symbol of the connectedness that occurred here in Rome and the connectedness that needs to continue among all the Associates.
During the initial hours of the meetings the members presented symbols from each of their units (Pictures 2 – 5) and reported on the activities of the Associates in each of the provinces/regions. Be sure to ask your representative for explanations of the symbols. Each is so unique and interesting.
In between meetings they visited the four major basilicas in Rome, made a pilgrimage through the Holy Door of St. Peter’s (Picture #6) and attended the Wednesday audience with Pope Francis.
Each day began with prayer prepared by a different unit and interspersed throughout the day each participant presented a reflection on one of the intercessions in the Litany of Blessed Pauline. Since it was impossible to complete this last task, several of the Associates will give their reflection while in Paderborn.
The members of the group departed from Villa Paolina at 6 AM on Tuesday, April 26 to complete their deepening of Mother Pauline’s spirit in Paderborn.
On April 4, I attended a morning session on justice and peace issues surrounding the mining industry with special emphasis on Brazil from where the presenter spoke to us via Skype. Once again, I would encourage you to view the video on YouTube “Flin Flon Flim Flam (Hudbay’s Hoax) since it has to do with this issue in the Americas especially with plans for Arizona.
Once again as Easter approached, Sister Clarentia was busy making rabbit cakes as gifts for friends of Villa Paolina. (Picture #7)
On the day before Palm Sunday, Sister Angelika and I went on our own pilgrimage to the Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem (Picture #8). It seemed like such an appropriate day to remember St. Helena and her contribution to preserving the memory of Jesus’ cross.
On March 12, I attended a lecture at the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies entitled “Violence and Non-Violence in the Islamic Tradition”.
On April 12, I met with Sister Marlene Weitzel and Sister Esther Falzone (Picture #9) as they had a brief stop in Rome after a trip to Southern Italy and Sicily with Sister Esther’s pastor from Saddle River, New Jersey.
Finally, I share with you just a symbol of the Easter joy from the Community of Santa Susanna where Sister DeSales join the American English speaking community for weekend liturgy (Picture #10)
May the remainder of the Easter season be so blessed for each of you. My next update won’t be so long and perhaps I should not wait so long to communicate with you.
I send you much love and many greetings from all here in the Generalate.
Yes, it is another month, in fact, well into another month. At the same time, Lent is quickly coming to an end.
On February 4, Sister Maria Immacolata and I went to the Church of St. Lawrence Outside-the-Walls to view the relics of St. Padre Pio and St. Leopold, very beloved Italian saints. The relics were here as part of the celebration of the Year of Mercy. We heard that some people waited in line for 4 hours to get into the Church, but age (and a cane) has its privilege and we were ushered in past all the lines. The devotion was genuine and reverent, old and young, mothers with babies in carriages, men and women. We spent some time in prayer and then returned home. Picture #1 gives you some idea of what we witnessed.
The International Congregations of Religious working at FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) led the JPIC promoters at their February 17 meeting with the theme “Food Security, Compassion and Human Rights Spirituality.” Land Grabbing was the topic led by Sister Anne Corry, RSCJ. I’ve included a picture (#2) of Sister Anne. You may be interested in the idea of Land Grabbing and the whole concept of mining and how it effects the peoples and land on which we live, particularly since there is an issue in our own country in Arizona with the establishment of the Rosemont Mine. If you check out Youtube for “Flin Flon Flim Flam (Hudbay’s Hoax)” there is a most interesting documentary on the company “Hudbay” and it’s history of injustices. It is worth the 52 minutes of viewing. For the “literary” among you, you will enjoy googling “Flin Flon – Canada Vignettes” to learn the history of the town of Flin Flon! I would love to hear from anyone who watches either of these videos to hear of your reactions.
For me, the “take-away” quote from the day was: “Hunger is criminal, food is an inalienable right.” Father Ken Thessing, MM (picture #3) from FAO elaborated on this quote.
The Lenten Prayer Day for English speaking religious in Rome was held on Saturday, February 13. The speaker, Donna Hughes, dedicated her talks to Thomas Merton and offered suggestions from his deep contemplative spirituality.
I am including a copy of Pope Francis’ talk to the Missionaries of Mercy with regard to their task as extraordinary dispensers of Christ’s mercy during this Jubilee Year of Mercy. If you have not read it already, it is worth the time---and not very long!
On Sunday, February 21, I had a surprise phone call from Sister Mary Kim Tran who was on pilgrimage here in Rome with the Parish of St. Pius X in New Orleans. We met on Tuesday afternoon and enjoyed some of the sites in Rome that Sister had not seen and then she joined our community here at Villa Paolina for supper. Picture #4 is of Sister standing on the banks of the Tiber. This was my first walk also along the river---something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.
I had the opportunity on February 24 to meet with a small group hosting Ms. Amy Lillis from the US Department of State who is the Regional Advisor for Religion and Global Affairs. This is a relativity new Office established by Secretary of State John Kerry just 2 ½ year ago. Realizing the power of religious congregations in working with relief services, this office through Amy is seeking ways to work with faith-based communities in addressing the tragic situations in countries such as Nigeria, Turkey and Pakistan. With Amy was Mark Bechermans, Political Specialist of the U.S. Embassy to the Vatican. It was a very encouraging meeting.
On February 27, I was present at a lecture: “Laudato Si, On Care for Our Common Home” (Pope Francis’ encyclical letter): Economics or Religion or What?” It was a mind-expanding presentation that left me with much to consider. The presenter was Brother Louis DeThomasis, FSC, PhD from Christian Brothers Global. Brother began with a short video, demonstrating the power of words, titled “It’s a beautiful day but I can’t see it”. Again, I direct you to Youtube, keying in the title of the video. It’s worth the 2 minutes! Just one brief thought from the presentation: to see Laudato Si take effect, men and women MUST be equal. Brother prefaced this statement with three reasons for saying it:
1. Women think, feel and see differently;
2. Women see into the future more easily
3. Women reinvest into families and communities
With that, I will close but not until I wish you the blessings of a deep experience of Holy Week and an Easter filled with the excitement and exuberant joy of the first Easter morning.
With much love to all,
It is difficult to believe that one month of 2016 is gone. You probably feel the same way.
Each evening at 6 PM a different group assembles outside St. Peter’s Basilica to pray the Rosary for the intentions of the Year of Mercy. December 30th was the day for our parish church of the Canadian Martyrs. It was somewhat of a pilgrimage as parishioners met at the Church and then traveled together by public transportation to St. Peter’s. Other people who were visiting at the time joined in the Rosary while the Pastor and members of the parish led a simple meditation before each decade. It was a joy to be a part of this group. Picture #1 and 2 give you an idea of where we were in the Square.
In my last Update, I shared that I was volunteering at the Refugee Center at St. Paul Inside the Walls Episcopal Church. The Church has Morning Praise every day at 9:30 but because I try to be at the Center by 9:00, I don’t like to go to the prayer on the days when I volunteer. Last week, I had a meeting at the Center at 10 so I took part in the Morning Prayer. It seemed to be a fitting end to the month dedicated to Interreligious Dialogue and Francis’ plea for Christian Unity.
The meeting to which I just referred was with a Sister Dorothy Johnson, a Franciscan, who recently came back from Nigeria where she worked in the Damietta Peace Initiative. (I suggest that you Google “Damietta Peace Initiative” and click on “Damietta Peace Initiative-Capuchin Franciscan). The history of the project goes back to the times of St. Francis and his efforts to stop the Crusades. Sister Dorothy may be returning to Rome in the Fall and would like to bring the process of Damietta in the Refugee Center. She was full of enthusiasm and truly wants to see a world where Christians and Muslims, blacks and whites, the haves and the have nots, all from different ethnic groups and beliefs can live together in peace.
On January 23, I attended a lecture by Father Robert Schreiter, CPPS. Some of you may know his name from Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. (Picture #3) Father’s topic was “Pursuing Justice in a Jubilee Year of Mercy.” Once again, I would suggest that you look for Father in YouTube and listen to some of his presentations, especially on Reconciliation. Some are rather brief, others may be an hour or so. All are very worthwhile. Father spoke of “mercy” as “the beating heart of the Gospel”. He also suggested re-reading Dives in Misericordia the encyclical of St. John Paul II written in 1980. There is so much to absorb during this year of mercy and what has become so surprising to me are the times in the last 50 years when popes and writers have urged the world toward mercy. It just must be the Spirit’s time and Pope Francis has seized that moment.
On a lighter side, or I should say, in a different vein, Sister DeSales and I attended a presentation by Pax-Bank entitled “Are you prepared if the Dollar falls 30%?” This really challenged my brain and got me thinking on a very different level. Notice… I am not going into any detail on the presentation!
The English-speaking Christian Churches came together on January 24 to celebrate the Week of Christian Unity. The service took place at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church of Scotland near Santa Susanna Church. The theme of the prayer was salt and light so at one point in the service we were invited to come forward and taste a small pinch of salt and light a candle as a sign of the peace and mission we share. The Church of Scotland has accepted the challenge to support an initiative for long term rebuilding of communities. The collection taken at the service will be sent to World Mission Council of the Church of Scotland who, during 2016, has pledged its support for rebuilding houses in Nepal following the devastating earthquake of April 25, 2015. Homes will be built that are structurally superior to the ones that were destroyed at a cost of approximately 670 euros—that’s about $1000 in US money! The Church of Scotland also participates in the Rice Bowl Project which will fund the same project. I wish I had a picture to share with you of the commitment procession but I forgot my camera!
I am sure that you have been reading much about the close of the Year of Consecrated Life here in Rome. Sister Maria del Rosario and Sister Maria de Los Angeles participated in many of the events. Among the most significant presentations was Pope Francis’ talk yesterday, February 1 at an Audience in Paul VI Hall. I have attached two presentations---one the prepared talk the other some “off-the-cuff” comments.
Finally, I had the joy of meeting with several Pallottine friends from the Unites States. Pictured left to right in #4 you see Sister Izabela, Superior General, originally from Jersey City (her Mom still lives there), me, Sister Patrice and Sister Carmel Therese.
Blessings to all of you especially as we begin Lent.
With much love,