Monday, July 2, 2007
Formation So Far
Angel at St. Mary of the Angels Basilica
Dinner on the terrace with Sr. Pat and Maristella, long-term volunteer to Togo
Sisters waiting for the bus at the end of our street
Me at the Coliseum
My Vantage Point, Mass at St. Peter's
I’m settling into life in Rome as I relish all that I’m learning. A typical day begins with Mass at 7:00 a.m. followed by breakfast and sweeping and weeding the garden. About 9:00 or 9:30 we have a lecture or presentation that lasts two or three hours. At one o’clock we have lunch at the convent with the sisters followed by siesta time (when we do language study, update blogs, etc.). Around 4:00 in the afternoon another session begins and may go until dinner time at 7:00. The VOICA volunteers cook their own dinner to eat around 7:30. After dinner we have a group prayer and then we’re free until bedtime. Sundays are free.
“Missionary Month” began last Monday and will continue through July 24. About twenty Canossian Sisters from Italy, East Timor, Congo, India, Hong Kong, Singapore, Argentina, Poland, the United States, the Philipines, Brazil, Sao Tomè and Angola are participating along with the VOICA volunteers. Nearly all of us are soon bound for mission.
After an introduction to Missionary Month and an address given by the Mother General of the Canossians, we spent three days “Walking in the Footsteps of the Martyrs”. In the spirit of a pilgrimage, we visited sites in and around Rome as we remembered the early Christians who lived, struggled and died there. These sites included: The Basilica of St. Paul, St. Paul at the Three Fountains, the Catacombs of St. Callisto, the Basilica of St. Prassede, the Basilica of St. Clement, the Coliseum, the Mamertine Prison (where Peter was imprisoned and converted his fellow prisoners and the prison guards) and St. Peter’s Basilica.
The visit to St. Peter’s Basilica was especially memorable because we were able to attend Mass celebrated by the Pope on the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. This feast is also the day when new cardinals are commissioned. St. Peter’s was full of people from all over the world. It was a joy to get a sense of unity in the world at least for a moment.
Now we are going to stay “home” for a while. The upcoming topics for formation sessions include: anthropology of mission, Marian anthropology, mission in Scripture, the theology of mission explored in the documents of the Church, paths of evangelization on different continents, new models of mission, Mary and the Canossian charism and personal sharing of mission experience. One thought that struck me from today's session was this: Perhaps the "poor" of the world are the only ones who can show us the way from competition to cooperation, from pride to humility, from death into life.
The Sisters impress me with their kindness, intelligence, openness, education and lightness of heart. Rome impresses me with its antiquity, art, great green parks and as a center of Christianity. I am learning a bit of Italian from listening at Mass and to others conversations. I try to study French in a more formal way. Please pray that I have open ears, a quick memory and an agile tongue as I learn language. Two months seems very short for becoming proficient even just in French.
I am delighted to be here and feel that the Canossian charism and the VOICA program are a good fit for me. I still miss you all, though, and keep you in my thoughts and prayers everyday.