Carmen and Fernanda reflect on their week of reunions, deep prayer ... and snow (in April!)
Two Providence Associates from Peru journeyed to Kingston in April for the Associates meetings connected to the Sisters’ Chapter meetings. Carmen Alomía Guía (CG) has been to Canada before; Fernanda Marleny Ramirez Ruiz (FR) was here for the first time.
FR: I wake up, it is real! We are arriving in Canada. … I feel happy looking at the snow everywhere, the trees without leaves and the houses just as I have seen them in the movies…
CG: Upon leaving the car and standing in front of the door at the Motherhouse, the smiling faces of our Leadership Team are there to welcome us with much love, marking the tone of our visit to the family of the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul in Kingston.
FR: We participated in the Holy Week Celebration of the washing of feet. We experienced a church where everyone can participate. This made me feel very excited.
CG: I was able to follow the celebrations of the Holy Week. There was emotion and admiration combined with humbleness but elegance in each one of the liturgies that were celebrated.
FR: It was especially nice to see Sister Gayle beside the priest, accompanying him through the liturgy.
CG: I enjoyed seeing the role of women on the altar. Sisters Gayle and Frances are the personification of women in the church today because of the place they occupied in servicing on the altar. All the other persons that were helping were acting in a synchronized way so that the assembly was in close communion with what was happening at the altar.
CG: What to say about the music, the songs… the chorus of angels that allowed us to enjoy each liturgical song. The rhythm penetrated our souls. This is also ‘evangelization’, because it connects us in love and prayer with God.
CG: It is worth commenting about the presence of inmates in the liturgies. To speak to an inmate, to feel his desire to get out of his situation, to grasp all the good that life gives us…. They are all motives for these brothers to have hope despite the situations they live in. Very Vincentian!
FR: But not everything was happiness: the Lord allowed me to participate in the funeral of Sister Monica Gannon and to visit Sister Rose Healy’s grave. These were difficult moments. The next days went by really fast, sharing prayers and liturgies with the Sisters. I had never before lived moments of deep prayer like these. It was marvellous.
CG: To visit our Sister Rosita [Rose Healy] at the cemetery was felt deeply. I remembered the many moments that I had been with her in Carabayllo [Peru]. I felt a terrible sorrow but also joy, because she has been resurrected in the Lord, from where she accompanies us every day.
CG: The visit to our Irene [Sr. Irene MacDonell] in the infirmary was filled with emotion. To see her seated and quiet, with her smile as usual, caused a lot of tenderness and joy. I saw her fragile, but well taken care off. This image will stay with me forever.
CG: The theme of the Chapter, A future filled with compassion and hope, synthesized what was looked for in gatherings where large decisions were to be made. The prayers with the method of Visio Divina filled my soul. To listen to God, to see him in the images, to share in small groups what has been heard and what has been talked about. It is an interesting combination of personal and community dialogue with our Creator. Thanks for this experience.
FR: Very quickly, the day we were waiting for arrived, our encounter with the Canadian Associates. Our meeting was very emotional … The best part was being able to integrate all our ideas and feelings, and to arrive to a common statement. Our mission as Associates is in the service of the poor from the place where we stand today.
CG: Both Sisters and Associates talked together about the Chapter’s theme. The spirit of the God of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul was there with us.
The first idea that was clarified was the one of independence. Or maybe it was interdependence, or maybe autonomy. What was really determined was that we are a family and that the new reality asks us for organizational changes and a greater participation on the part of the Associates. But our identity is clear: We are Associates of the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul. We live by our own conviction the charism of the Congregation and the spirituality of St. Vincent de Paul. We are united by an umbilical cord to the Sisters who helped us to find our own faith, to grow in it and to show it in concrete actions in the task of empowering the poor so they can be able to build their own path.
CG: It was a new experience to interact with the Canadian Associates. Getting to know them so closely was very special. To see the expression in their faces, to listen to the sounds of their voices, their love and welcoming nature, made us feel most loved. We hope to be able to reciprocate when they come to Peru.
FR: With the snow gone and a beautiful walk along Princess Street, I departed.