Thursday, February 4, 2010

Thank You Sister

Many readers of this blog are aware that the Vatican is conducting a visitation of the communities of religious sisters here in the U.S. Some might wonder just what a visitation is. In religious communities of women and men, especially at times of chapter when new leadership is to be elected and/or new policies are to be implemented, someone from outside the community is appointed as a visitator. In the case of us Franciscans it is a friar from another province within the order. This visitator visits each community and each individual friar, listening to the stories of the members, affirming the gifts of each one, but also challenging us to live our life more fully. In recent years I have found these moments to be a blessing. This is what a visitation is supposed to do.

In the case of our religious sisters in the US. the visitator is a sister from Rome, under the direction of a Cardinal who will be helped in her task by a team of sisters. I really do pray and I hope you do as well, that our sisters have a visitation in the sense that I described above. I fear though, that instead of a visitation, there will be an investigation, with the outcome predetermined before the stories are heard.

We are in the midst of The Year for priests, called for by the Vatican. During this year I have been deeply touched by the letters of affirmation that I have receieved from several people, thanking me for my vocation and encouraging me to go on. Perhaps we can contact some of the religious women who have educated us and guided us in other ways, and let them know how much we appreciate them and what they have done for us individually and as a Church. We can also let them know that we are praying for them and that we support them and stand with them during this visitation. Thank you Sister, all of you, for your dedicated lives.

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