Letter Superior General 19 Aprile 2015
Roma, 19 April 2015
“we sense in our conscience the call to touch human misery …
and to put into practice the commandment of love”.
My dear Sisters,
I ask you to first of all to read this communication, to reflect together on it and then to send me your suggestions even if they seem small; thank-you.
The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, following the appeal of Pope Francis to all religious Institutes, sent an urgent letter last month signed by Cardinal João Braz de Aviz, Prefect of the Congregation and Mons José Rodriguez Carballo, OFM Archbishop and Secretary, to all religious Superiors General, inviting them to a meeting on 15 April, to find practical ways in which we together as ‘consecrated people’ can meet the needs of the many refugees and migrants who have arrived in our cities, especially in Rome.
In the Letter they re-echo the words of Pope Francis: “The Year of Consecrated Life challenges us to examine our fidelity to the mission entrusted to us. Are our ministries, our works and our presence consonant with what the Spirit asked of our founders and foundresses? Are they suitable for carrying out today, in society and the Church, those same ministries and works? Do we have the same passion for our people, are we close to them to the point of sharing in their joys and sorrows, thus truly understanding their needs and helping to respond to them?”
Pope Francis, on many occasions, invited us to guard against gossip, jealousy and pettiness in community life and exhorts us: “Don’t be closed in on yourselves, don’t be stifled by petty squabbles, don’t remain a hostage to your own problems. These will be resolved if you go forth and help others to resolve their own problems, and proclaim the Good News. You will find life by giving life, hope by giving hope, love by giving love. I ask you to work concretely in welcoming refugees, drawing near to the poor, and finding creative ways to catechize, to proclaim the Gospel and to teach others how to pray. Consequently, I would hope that structures can be streamlined, large religious houses re-purposed for works which better respond to the present demands of evangelization and charity, and apostolates adjusted to new needs.”
As consecrated women we need to examine our presence in the life of the Church and to “respond to the new demands constantly being made on us, to the cry of the poor”to be ready to live “true synergy with other vocations in the Church”, and to “step more courageously from the confines of our respective institutes and to work together on projects involving evangelization and social action.”
In his message for World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2015 Pope Francis writes: “It is necessary to respond to the globalization of migration with the globalization of charity and cooperation,in such a way as to make the conditions of migrants more humane.”
The main thrust of the Meeting for us is to take up the appeal of Pope Francis to live the Gospel. The Cardinal summarized what the various Congregations are already doing for the Homeless, ranging from offering hot meals, a room or some rooms, a house or creating a space for these people who have nothing. Some Sisters collaborate with big Centres eg Centro Astalli, S. Egidio, Caritas … But the Cardinal wants to go further: “We already work with the poor; but as Consecrated people what more can we do? We can coordinate the work in reaching out to our brothers and sisters in Rome?”
Various practical suggestions were made at the Meeting:
the first important and practical step is for religious from various Congregations to work together; not necessarily living under the same roof but pooling their ideas and resources; to set up a Working Commission to collect information regarding the availability of time, space, resources; to encourage collaboration with others – doctors, dentists and other volunteers; to be involved in health and education for example how to care for themselves, teaching Italian language, catechesis etc.
In the first instance we all need to educate ourselves, to understand the different situations – to get into the shoes of these people and try to help, certainly with our prayer and concern and as the Cardinal repeated “this will help us to grow in our personal conversion”. We need to develop our awareness which “presumes the creation of a new mind-set which thinks in terms of community and the priority of the life of all over the appropriation of goods by a few”.
We ask Mary and Joseph who have experienced the conditions of refugees, to help us to enlarge our heart and to show the tenderness of God towards the entire human family.
And we pray in the words of Pope Francis:
“Together let us thank the Father, who called us
to follow Jesus by fully embracing the Gospel
and serving the Church,
and poured into our hearts the Holy Spirit,
the source of our joy and our witness to
God’s love and mercy before the world”.
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