Vincentian formation session for the Daughters of Charity of the Provinces of Africa and Madagascar

[Quasi – Province Mother House] The opportunity of attending the Vincentian Formation Session in the Mother House for the last two months awarded me the pleasure to see, touch, feel, listen and experience. First, I was deeply stirred by the faith of the pilgrims who flock into our chapel every day to pray. I was filled with awe seeing how countless blessings attend to us every day in this Chapel and I experienced this as I sat in the chapel to pray. Touching the chair where our Blessed Mother sat, passing the message of the apparition in 1830 to St. Catherine Labouré, was not only a physical act but an overwhelming and faith lifting experience.

More impressive was the experience of the pilgrimages to various historical sites. Imagine walking in the footsteps of St. Vincent at the Berceau, his home village.  More even, the visit to Chatillon lingers in my mind, I envisaged the woman who went to “see” Vincent in the sanctuary to inform him about the sick family. This for me was like the mustard seed in the Gospel which grew to be the biggest of all trees – “the Vincentian Charism”.  Not to talk about sitting in the family house of St. Catherine Labouré at Fain-Les-Moutiers. I was in touch with the essential, I felt connected to the roots.

I cannot dare not mention the Cathedral at “Chartres” where St. Louise consecrated the Company to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The work of the artists caught my attention, how they deployed their skills and their sense of sight to bring the Bible into perspective. Now, the literate and illiterate have access to the Bible, what a blessing. Notable also was the visit to our archives, seeing the book where the heart of St. Vincent was hidden, touching the hands of St Catherine Labouré and embracing Louise’s letter of the Pentecost experience. What counts more than the experience of linking with our sources, the heritage? You cannot know where you are going unless you know where you are coming from.

Reflecting about the origins of the Company, our first Sisters, their boldness and unwavering faith amidst the struggles they faced, called me to stop and think! I feel indebted to appreciate the work of the Holy Spirit in shaping the Company and to preserve the charism passed on to us.As if this was not enough, the practical presentation of the Constitutions deepened my understanding and compelled me to reflect on my life as a Daughter of Charity. Listening to all the Presenters who spoke from their heart, I picked up a common theme -“Conversion.” Conversion in the sense of listening to your inner heart, evaluating your life, looking at things differently and moving forward with hope. Who will dare to go back the same after all these life-giving experiences? I feel the urge to live and share this great transforming experience. I am imbued with new zeal, revitalized, yet still informed and formed. I deeply appreciate our rich Vincentian roots and heritage.

What added flavor to the whole experience was meeting Sisters from nine African Provinces who spoke different languages! We had great fun with language and with a bit of attention communication took place even with a smile. We shared experiences and we learned from each other. We owe the planning team a great debt for they worked tirelessly to make this Session happen and more fruitful.  May God bless you all.

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