Monday, August 5, 2013

Sister Sarah and Sister Dorcee received pictures from the time they saw the Holy Father at St. Mary Major. These pictures show how close they were to him. Enjoy!

Sister Sarah
Servants of God's Love
It is difficult to find words to express my gratitude for being able to participate in this outstanding program in Rome! I honestly did not think it would be feasible because of the length of time away from our responsibilities at the Mother House and the expense of the trip. However, at the same time, I sensed that this was a gift from God!  I will try to be concise and tell you about my experience.

I will frame my experience in a passage that I have been pondering all week. It is from Hebrews 12:1—“Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses…” I have been touched by the cloud of witnesses back in the USA who made this trip possible through their financial help. I am grateful to the cloud of witnesses in the Servants of God’s Love who encouraged Sr. Dorcee and me to go to Rome and who assured us that they would hold the fort down while we were away. I am also very grateful to the very hospitable cloud of witnesses at the Domus who cared for our every need! I continue to be inspired by the clergy cloud of witnesses who so generously gave of their time and encouraged us and exhorted us to continue being a sign of the Kingdom!  I am also very happy to have lived with eleven clouds of witnesses, my sisters from the other communities!  I am truly going to miss these wonderful women of God! They are holy and just plain fun to be with too!  

It has been a tremendous blessing for me to visit many holy places and to  pray at the tombs of this cloud of witnesses here in Rome.  I loved praying at the tombs of Saints Peter and Paul, Blessed John Paul II, St.  Bartholomew, Cardinal Van Thuan,  and many more!

I could go on and on about how wonderful this experience has been for me, but instead, I will end with a few more highlights:
1.       Seeing the Holy Father at his spontaneous visit to Mary           Major and being within 4 feet of him!
2.       Meditating on  St. Paul’s  prison letters written from the           very place where he was under house arrest!
3.       Praying at the site of St. Paul’s martyrdom!
4.       Gaining new friends, my dear sisters from the other                 communities!

As I return home, I will hold the entire cloud of witnesses in my heart and by God’s grace, I will pick up the baton and run with perseverance the race that is set before me until I too can join that great cloud of witnesses in Heaven!  

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Sister Cecilia, Congregation of Mary, Queen-American Region  
Four years ago, some of our Sisters flew to Rome to attend the first CMSWR Summer Program.  They came back with so many great stories.  Since then, I have dreamed of coming to Rome to be at the Heart of the Church!  Thanks to God, to my community, and the CMSWR Sisters, my dream became a reality!!!   

I was able to walk on the streets that many Saints had walked upon, visit many Churches where Saints and Christians throughout the centuries lived, worshipped, instructed others about their faith, and shed their blood for their belief.  With help from our wonderful tour guide Priests, I was able to appreciate the significant details in each Church, learn more about the lives of the Saints, and the history of our Church. 

From the conferences that our eloquent Priest speakers gave us, I was able to re-enkindle the fire of faith, hope, and charity in my heart and in my life, deepen my love for the Church, strengthen my commitment as a religious, and grow more fervent in my zeal for mission.  In addition, through interacting and praying with ‘the group’, I experienced how beautiful and diverse and rich ‘CHURCH’ is and how powerful, how awesome the loving hand of God is at work within and among us.   

Not only did I grow in my love, knowledge and understanding of the Church, I also learned to embrace the beauty and the history of Rome.  Not only is there a church on each corner, there is also beauty and history on each block!  I was surprised to find out that Julius Caesar was assassinated just 2 blocks from the Domus, that the Jewish temple is right across the street, the Tiber river is only 3 blocks away, and the ruin of an ancient temple is right behind the building!  I have been here for 3 weeks, the program is about to end, yet I still feel like I am dreaming!!!  I have seen much and I have learned so much!  I have been nourished and enriched, physically, intellectually and spiritually!!!  Once again, I would like to thank God, my sisters, the CMSWR sisters, and our priest speakers for making this experience a faith-filled, grace-filled, and fun-filled summer for us.

Friday, August 2, 2013

We are currently packing and getting ready to leave tomorrow morning. Even though our time has come to an end, be sure to check back to hear from the rest of the Sisters.

Thanks for joining us and for your prayers. I can assure you that we have been praying for you and all your intentions.
On this final day groups of us did different things. One group went to Tre Fontane. This is the place where St. Paul was martyred. There are three fountains because the story is that after St. Paul's head was cut off it bounced three times. At each place it landed three fountains sprang up. Here is a link that will give you more information:

The Sisters who went said it was very moving to be at the spot where St. Paul was killed.

A smaller group of Sisters went to visit the Brigittine Nuns. While visiting the chapel (which is a beautiful and prayerful place very close to the Domus) a nun invited us into the convent to visit the room where St. Bridget died. The room was beautiful and had a window that looked into the chapel. This is the window that St. Bridget was able to look through and watch Mass before she died. Also in her room is the bed (a wooden board) that she died on and her relics. After she died her body was carried from Rome to Sweden to be buried.  The artwork was extraordinarily beautiful. On the ceiling were images of the Passion that were from her revelations. For more about the Brigittine Nuns see this website:

Sister Mary Patrice with Sister Karola. She is from Poland, but entered in Rome. She is named after Bl. John Paul II. She was gracious and most hospitable to us. 
Sister told us that many of their vocations are coming from Mexico, Indonesia and India. 
Our final group picture. Msgr. Caserta is on the right.
Today was our last full day in Rome. A few of us got up early to visit St. Peter's one last time. We returned for 8:30am Mass with Msgr. Caserta. His homily was his last conference. He focused on the Apostolate as a sign of the Kingdom. He referred to a homily given by Pope Benedict where he said that each disciple is a result of a conversation between the Father and the Son. Jesus called to Himself those whom He desired. As religious we are the desired of the Lord, we have been "taken" by Him.

Our work--the "what"--is not as significant as the "why". As Religious we are good at what we do because of the "why". Our work is not just a job, we do our work out of love for God. Through our work and relationships with those whom we serve they should also experience that they are the desired of the Lord too. Monsignor reminded us that oftentimes those we need to love the most are our own Sisters. Sometimes we are the poorest of the poor.

Monsignor understands religious life so well. He has read the documents on religious life and has a lot of experience working with religious. He sees his priesthood as being of service to religious, especially in the Sacraments. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

As you can see we have been posting what the Sisters have to say about their Rome experience. Today we had time for excursions to some of our favorite spots (everyone usually goes off in small groups) and two conferences with Msgr. Caserta.

After holy hour we had a lovely dinner prepared by Sister Monica Mary, the administrator of the Domus. It was a delicious meal. 

Tomorrow we will catch you up on Monsignors conferences. He comes for Mass in the morning and then leaves for the United States. We are beginning to prepare to leave on Saturday morning and are getting last minutes visits to various Churches. It has been a blessed time and we thank you all for your prayers. We continue to pray for you too.