Table of Contents
Being a Gift of Healing
Continuing our Healing Mission as Disciples of Jesus
A Moment of Grace
BELIEVING IN GOD'S DREAM
My “take-home” message from our recent International Healing Conference (June 9-12, 2011) is that healing begins at home! Perhaps the most powerful moment for me was the one in which Fr. Anthony Gittins said:
“God does not make ‘generic’ people, only specific individuals. Jesus does not love ‘the poor’ or ‘sinners’ because those are abstractions, and it is impossible to love an abstraction! You love a person, or you do not love at all…Whom do you actually encounter … on a daily basis? Do you truly encounter them – or only handle them?”
And so, if you do not love those individual people whom you meet everyday, whom will you love? And then Sr. Antonietta Potente reinforced his message when she said, “It is easier to look at growth from the outside rather than to admit that this irritating circumstance or person is my opportunity to grow!”
For me, it is always exciting to learn about new alternative healing techniques. The opportunities to be creative artistically and to share perspectives with our Sisters and Associates about the various challenges we face were interesting and informative. However, to my mind, the essence of the conference is this: we must heal ourselves and we must heal one another if we are to heal others. And the healing begins in the most practical way:
How do I speak to this person I see every day?
How do I speak about this person every day?
How do I act toward this person every day?
How do I forgive this person every day?
In each of these sentences, I have used the word, every day, because I think that the everydayness of our encounters wears away at the sacredness of the encounter. We seem to reserve our kindness, our gentleness for the abstractions: the poor, the sick, the prostitutes, the sinners…
Yet, as Fr. Gittins pointed out, who are we if we are not one of them? Jesus came to save the poor, the sinners. Are we not among them? Are there any among us who thinks she already is a saint? Are there any among us who have not been wounded? Who have not wounded others? Who are not in need of healing? Are there any among us who can honestly say that she always (or even usually) treats the people she meets every day with gentleness and kindness?
In her keynote address, Sr. Tiziana said “…we are not here together because we are angels, but because we believe in God’s dream.” Indeed, we are here because we -- each one of us -- believes in God’s dream – and each one of us is a part of it. Each person – especially those whom we encounter daily – is God’s Beloved. God loves you, and you and you, and you…and me.
Perhaps we need to say this to ourselves over and over and over again, so that perhaps we may learn to really believe it. And when this happens, we will be healed. And we will treat each person around us as a beloved child of God. And they will be healed. And because we are healed, our communities will be healed. Together we can reach out to heal the people who need us the most!
Sr. Joanne Schuster, SFP
CCA, U.S. Area
[Cover art by Sarah Hellmann]
||Being a gift of healing
A large group of Sisters and a family of Associates departed from Italy for Cincinnati, Ohio to attend the Healing Conference.
There was much excitement and trepidation: they had been praying during Advent and Lent, done a myriad of activities in preparation, and helped each participant enjoy the experience. Upon their return to Italy, each one expressed his/her gratitude and the wish to be a “gift of healing” for humanity.
“WELCOME" was written on a poster board by Joan, an SFP Associate of the US Area, when we arrived. After many months of waiting, there we were, finally! Then everyone welcomed us, in the typical style of the SFPs in every Area, and this helped us enter into a spirit of reflection and celebration.
The days were intense, filled with many emotions, and many new and interesting insights. What moved us most was hearing how Mother Frances’ charism is lived concretely and how it is shared in the various Areas, and how the world has a deep need of people who know how to express this charism.” - Carole and Valerio Tiranti, SFP-A
|I was touched by the way each one of us tried to overcome our cultural differences -- especially the language -- by finding new ways to communicate. I liked the creativity among us in the planning of the Conference. I felt that it was a great way to express our being together. - Sr. Francesca Vitulano, SFP
||The image I left with is one that happened on one of the entertainment nights. We held each other’s hand. As I looked around, I saw Sisters of all different ages, from the oldest to the youngest, and they were singing and praying together. I felt that it was a healing moment. I personally am aware that there is not just one way to be with people, or one mode of healing, but many ways and methods. This is humbling, for me, as I always feel I am learning and listening to God’s creativity, which becomes a gift for each one.
- Sr. Jenny Favarin, SFP
This experience helped me -- just as every other experience we live in the Congregation -- because I felt that the topics, discussions, sharing, truly touched my life.
I leave with the desire to begin anew, leaving behind the past and recommitting myself to recognize the new Face that I saw in each one. I know that I do not need to worry about anything because everything is in God’s hands. He is the one who carries the life of each one and all of us. - Sr. Regina Nigro, SFP
The Healing Conference for me was first an opportunity to encounter and dialogue among the Sisters. I left with the desire to “expand my horizon.” I felt that this became true in our mutual sharing of our charism in our very different environments.
I felt that we are united by our desire to:
- Serve God in the humanity God puts in front of us wherever God calls us, asking us to listen and to be open,
- Journey together, through exchange and concrete sharing.
Sr. Vincenza Scassillo, sfp
|After this beautiful experience, I leave with the commitment to learn to be more concrete and responsible for the consequences of my daily choices.
I felt that God, through our charism, is asking me to be a visible witness of God’s constantly healing love. Only if I experience day by day this love of God within me, will I be able to give it to the people I encounter in everything that surrounds me. - Sr. Barbara Torregrossa, SFP
I was touched by the vitality and creativity generated by our charism in the various Areas.
Our charism gets straight to the “heart” of the people. I feel that it is a great resource for us and those we encounter. I leave with the conviction and desire to “generate compassion and hope in the community of life” wherever I am called to be. - Sr. Monica Stasi, SFP
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Continuing our healing mission as disciples of Jesus in the Brazil Area
Sister Maria Lúcia Barbosa de Oliveira, SFP – The Conference was fascinating! The welcome from our U.S. Sisters and Associates was truly joyful, for example, the loving way that Sister Jacinta Doyle opened the doors of her home and heart to me! We enjoyed sharing memories of our life and work together in Brazil.
Revisiting our dear Sisters was indescribable, especially those angels who accepted us into the Congregation long ago and are now back in the U.S. They can still speak with us in our own language! It was wonderful to see the fruits of the hard work provided by many generous hands acting behind the scenes, and it was nurturing to enjoy the richness of our prayer together, inspired by the Holy Spirit. The food was delicious and our international tastes were taken into account. The creativity shown in our cultural evenings, enriched by the spontaneity of participants, united us in a single language of contagious joy and promoted genuine inculturation.
The gift of healing happens when we welcome it with open hearts -- giving and receiving. Father Anthony Gittins graced the event with his words of wisdom: "The Healing Mission through the Person of Jesus Christ." He highlighted four aspects: "In order to love we must first seek someone, because it is impossible to love people in general, as each person is unique." Jesus does not love "the poor" in abstract ways, but rather each poor person in particular. The expression "the poor" is too generic! When practicing table fellowship, Jesus went much further, considering what he said at the Pharisee’s house: "When you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous." (Luke 14: 13-14)
Father Tony also said that our practice of communion is ridiculous if compared to Jesus’ washing the feet of his disciples while bending down toward those He served and recommending his apostles to do likewise! He challenged people to build and not destroy relationships. To me, one of his most meaningful phrases was, "You are, personally, the voice and the breath of God!" When asked about alternative therapies such as Reiki and yoga, he wisely replied: "They all fit in the ways of Jesus. There is enough breadth in the paths of the Lord."
On the second day we were blessed with a lecture by Sister Antonietta Potente. Sister is of Italian heritage and is serving in Bolivia, where she is doing beautiful work among the Aymara indigenous people.
She showed three images from Bible passages for us to consider:
• The first depicted Jesus’ body as it was taken down from the cross for burial (Luke 23, 50-56). • The second one detailed the hand of Jesus in the scene of his resurrection, as He says to Mary Magdalene: "Do not cling to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father, but go and find the brothers [others] and tell them: I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God " (Jn 20:17). Justice cannot be confined, it cannot be imprisoned. • The third showed John's vision of the Tree of Life (Rev. 22, 2).
Sister Antonietta raised some questions, reminding us of the harsh realities happening to our planet, such as, floods devastating everything: "How can we heal the cosmos which is ill?"
She stressed that the expression "the poor" grew along with the rise of the capitalist system, dividing people into social classes; in the Gospel it means something else. Jesus did not come to separate people. He did not enter into such a scheme.
Simply having a reunion with our dear Sisters would have been well worth the trip along with the workshops and sharing. To our delight, we realized that everything was done with love and care. Our Sisters cared for every detail to welcome us and let us feel at ease in their midst!
Sister Júlia Batista Rocha – The Healing Conference was wonderful! It was good to see how our healing charism is being incarnated in the different cultures and being brought to the poor and suffering people today, continuing our mission as disciples of Jesus. Each of us can help to bring healing -- from how we welcome someone at our door asking for help, food, guidance. We embrace them the same as Jesus, with love and gratitude.
How can we be sensitive to nature, remain connected to every creature, the universe and people? That is what brings us to a better understanding of the Community of Life and our responsibility toward it.
Sister Lécia José da Silva – It was unique and challenging to be in touch with the varied cultures of our Congregation. While we speak different languages, it is still possible to bring harmony and peace by finding other ways to express unconditional love. The silence often kept within our hearts expressed our togetherness, serenity and mutual love.
It was wonderful to meet so many of our Sisters in person! After contemplating the work of the Sisters who opened the paths for us to get where we are today, and meeting the great people who continue to faithfully give continuity to our charism, I returned to Brazil with a new sense of responsibility. As one of the younger Sisters, who is the future of the Congregation, I feel a stronger calling to cultivate my life of prayer. I notice within me the need to deepen my spirituality, so that I may express through my life, my own way of incarnating our SFP Healing Charism. I was very impressed and grateful for the participation of the Sisters who committed themselves beyond measure.
Sister Thalyta Pereira Lima – My participation will have a lasting impact on my life; this Conference helped me realize that our hope and efforts to find healing for ourselves and others has to be constant. Changes in our ways of seeing, thinking and behaving – as we face the reality wherever we live – are very helpful for this healing to happen. Being together with our Sisters from different generations and cultures gave me joy, hope and gratitude to God for the Sisters whose lives, past and present, have been freely given with great love to heal the wounds of Christ in poor and suffering humanity.
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A moment of grace:
Reflections from the Senegal Area . . .
The Power to Create Circles of Life
I came to realize that I too am a wounded “healer;” by living the experience of my own wounds I will be able to see the injuries of other wounded people. As Mother Frances says, I can be attentive to other people’s wounds and heal them. My understanding of the charism or of its expression didn't change, but evolved and assumed other colors and dimensions, thanks to the gift I received from the other Areas.
Thus, my understanding of these words: “to be instruments of Christ's healing in wounded creation” or “to heal Christ's wounds in wounded creation” and to heal not only wounded humanity, but the whole community of life has changed because today we refer to the whole of creation, to all of the community of life (with all its meanings that we have explored in Conversations). The whole community of life is considered in this circle of wounds and in the desire to bring about healing. Given that I’m still a Novice, I will not speak of ministry, but of people who surround me and whom I meet in my daily life.
The conference will deeply affect my relations with others. I came to understand and welcome my reality of being as wounded as many other people and my reality of being a healing presence by my words and actions -- especially through my relationship with the “poor,” from whom I can learn and receive new ways of healing. The poor are my equal even though they can seem inferior to me. They are as capable as myself in contributing something.
This conference has been a blessing, allowing me to see the multiple expressions of healing and to understand that the charism is needed in today’s world -- and this is my hope. The healing that I received gives me an inner peace and assurance that as women we have the power to create circles of life and growth where we can bloom with other people. - Domitilde Manga
Renewing and Deepening the Charism
I expanded my horizons and experienced communion with people different from myself and learned about the history of the Congregation and its planting in the U.S. I saw the riches of our charism and the challenges that our Sisters overcome every day. I also saw their hope in life’s daily struggles. I discovered and rediscovered the charism lived by our different Sisters in the four countries where they serve.
It was a time to reconsider our way of being. I became aware that I must take care of ‘the disfigured original beauty,’ and renew myself while thinking that God will continue to dream through me. It was a time to reinvent new methods to express, deepen and spread the charism because the world evolves, bringing with it new needs. Poverty can assume several faces and, therefore, adaptation is needed. From this conference I realize that listening is so important and this will bring me to reconsider my relationship with others. We need to know how to take care of people where they are and without judgment, and to always ask their opinion without imposing anything on them. -- Thérèse Tapsoba
A New Consciousness that We Are all Wounded
It was a great joy to participate. I became aware that I am a “wounded healer” and that Christ represents my healing at every level.
I received the graces of peace and joy of heart and received confidence and reconciliation with myself and with all injuries that I have endured. I am convinced that through all the spiritual exercises I experienced, accompanied by many signs and symbols, that Jesus was at work in my heart and that He healed me of all my internal and external wounds.
This conference renewed my entire life and gave me encouragement to see the good in my life and to live in simplicity. I opened a new page with Jesus, with other people and with God’s creatures. In my opinion our charism, expressed by the sentence, “Healing Christ's wounds in the poor and suffering humanity” did not change after the conference. Instead I have a new consciousness that we are all wounded people because of life’s ordeals. At the same time we are called to develop, even today, our healing gift in following Mother Frances Schervier.
Aware that the charism grows through us, the attention that we give to our diversities can help us grow in our inner knowledge. Then, the fruits of this witness will bloom by our goodness, our service and our gifts to the poor. Knowing that healing starts from the heart, I think that after this Healing Conference that common and personal prayer will be very important. Moreover, the imagination and the creativity in our different tasks can be a source of transformation, edification and healing for all of us. - Jacqueline Compaore
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CELEBRATING GOD’S DREAM IN OUR JUBILARIANS . . .
Sr. Rita Marie Donnelly
Sr. Adelaide Link
Sr. Arlene Mc Gowan
Sr. Daniel Marie Meade
Sr. Paula Huecker
Sr. Barbara Fiorentino
Sr. Tiziana Merletti
Sr. Vincenzina Raimondo
Sr. Rita Marie Donnelly and Sr. Vincenzina Raimondo . . .
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A note of deep gratitude to the talented and generous photographers . . .
Sr. Mary Madonna Hoying
Sr. Giannica Selmo
Sr. Marvi Delrivo
Please spend time enjoying the Healing Conference Website that Sr. Giannica Selmo created: