[Province of Belo Horizonte – Brazil] Knowing Saint Louise de Marillac is very important to us, Daughters of Charity, for her life gives us an example of faithfulness and love of God and for those who are poor expressed in her great acts of charity, audacity and fervor. With this objective we, Young Sisters, started a study on Louise, a powerful time of deepening and greater knowledge of her life. As concrete action of this study was proposed a Popular Mission in the city of Marillac, in the state of Minas Gerais that has Saint Louise as its Patroness. The mission took place on March 9-15, 2014 with the presence of Daughters from various communities and from the Project Rediscovering Vincentian Heritage, who supported us and shared with us the joy of accomplishing the mission. For us, Young Sisters, this time of fellowship, celebration, prayer and the experience of encounters with the people of Marillac is a cause for gratitude to God.
Arriving in the city, we were welcomed with great joy and satisfaction by the people and by Father Fabiano Ferreira Leite. Every day, before starting visits, we nourished our spirit with the bread of the Word of God, preparing our hearts to welcome, our ears to hear, our eyes to see and contemplate God at work in the history of the people who we were going to visit. As Louise taught us, “They must remember to keep in mind God and His glory. Then they must consider the welfare of the people with whom they will be associated in order to serve them better according to their aptitudes” (SL A.85).
In the comings and goings, we noticed a great faith in the people that was able to keep them firm, without losing heart. In every house we visited someone said: “Today God came to my house” and others said: “I have great faith in God.” Despite living in a situation of misery and suffering we could see the joy on every face we saw. However, they did not hide that they feel the need for someone to listen to them and be close them, especially a religious presence.
Our priority was visiting the elderly and sick people who have difficulty going up and down the hills to join the celebrations and festivities; then we visited other families in various situations. To all, we tried to bring a bit of the life and the story of our Foundress. Also, we realized in the history of the people, some stages of the life of Louise: as a child and a teenager; in marriage and motherhood; in her dedication and care for the other; in widowhood and suffering; her life of prayer and faith; in service and faithfulness to God; serenity in sickness and trust in divine love. These life experiences left marks on us and we are sure that it is impossible to come across so much suffering and situations of social neglect and continue the same way or to be insensitive to such situations.
We contemplated the path of holiness of Louise, in the midst of difficulties, sufferings, struggles and human imperfections and, above all, in offering her life in a generous commitment by adhering to God’s plan, by faith and fruitful prayer, practicing charity towards the poor, by intimacy and fidelity to God. Some people we visited, after knowing her better, told us that it was the life of Louise had that made her the Saint she is.
Thanks to the support of the Sisters, who tirelessly gave themselves, we could finish our project of studies, research and deepening of the life of Saint Louise de Marillac.
Sr. Marlene Aparecida Tomé, DC and Sr. Sônia Gonçalves, DC