When we received the invitation to write an article about MVA, we were perplexed.
How can we, who are confined within four walls in our Rome community, be asked to do this? For sure, we do not do mission animation. And yet, like all baptized and consecrated persons, are we not also missionaries, called to announce the Good News of Jesus Christ?
Paul VI, in Evangelii nuntiandi, wrote: “The Gospel must be proclaimed first of all by witness. Here is a Christian or a group of Christians who, within the human community in which they live, show their capacity for understanding and acceptance, their communion of life and destiny with others, their solidarity in the efforts of all for all that is noble and good. They also radiate, in a simple and spontaneous way, their faith in values that are beyond the ordinary, and their hope in something that we cannot see, that we would not dare to dream of. Through this wordless testimony, these Christians raise irresistible questions in the hearts of those who see them live: Why are they like this? Why do they live this way? What – or who – inspires them? Why are they in our midst? Such a witness is already a silent but very powerful and effective proclamation of the Good News.”
It is with joy that we share with you how we live missionary and vocational animation on a daily basis. As a community, we have at heart to pray regularly for missionary vocations.
A few months ago, Sr. Marie-Christine Rousseau was participating in a day of waste collection in the city, on the banks of the Tiber. She fell and suffered two fractures. From one day to the next she found herself in a hospital bed. She chose and accepted to be hospitalized in a public rehabilitation center, sharing her room with 3 other patients. She was cut off from the community for several weeks because of the covid measures that had been taken. As the centre where she was hospitalized was far from Rome, she accepted to have visits only once a week. With great courage and perseverance, she attended physiotherapy, an environment of contact, listening and sharing with the care givers. Questions arose about the end of life, the meaning of suffering, euthanasia, how Christians and non-Christians could act in a more human and fraternal way to relieve people’s suffering…
Being with fellow patients, some of whom were disoriented or depressed, she was able to be a comforting presence. Her hospitalization invited the community to get out of themselves, to find time to visit her, to get close to her through WhatsApp, while continuing their daily commitment. “Love one another, help one another” Mother Salome asked us.
Sr. Iwona, for her part, gives her heart and soul to her studies at the PISAI, wanting to prepare herself to meet Muslim believers in depth. Confronted with the difference, she allows herself to be transformed by the discovery of a different faith. The demands of her studies require her to spend hours and nights studying, sometimes stimulated by what she discovers, sometimes without much taste for it. She welcomes it out of love for the One who has chosen her and sent her to the midst of the Muslim peoples.
At present, she is the only religious in the PISAI community and this is an opportunity to make our charism known and to enter into simple and fraternal relationships with other students – lay or religious, professors and employees of the Institute.
In our relationship with our employees, and especially with the cook, we share our values related to the protection of the environment: use of water, electricity, sorting of waste… We ourselves try to be coherent with what we wish to see others live.
We are also privileged to have several Syrian, Afghan and Eritrean refugee families living in our house in the Villino. Some of us visit them from time to time. Each time we are challenged by the way they welcome us. Sometimes we are questioned by a young Muslim woman about our faith and have to give an account of it. On the occasion of the New Year, we received them in our house to share an evening together. What a joy it was to meet again after a year and to discover the path taken by each one. The joy of being able to communicate more easily thanks to the Italian language. The joy of feeling that we are united and that we enrich each other. We receive from them as much as we can offer.
We expanded the space of our tent by welcoming, for a fortnight, a refugee mother coming directly from a camp in Lebanon, with her sick child who had to be treated in Italy. Thanks to the linguistic and cultural richness of our community, we were able to get close to her and her child.
Thank you for having given us the opportunity to re-read our experience in the light of Mission and Vocation Promotion. Let us continue to walk together on this marvelous path of proclaiming the Good News!
Viale Trenta Aprile Community, Rome, Italy