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ap 09Celebration of the Vespers of Pentecost

 ap 2Sister Licia Mazzia and Sister Katharina Maria Finken plant the maple in the garden
 ap 06During the Vespers of Pentecost
 ap 1Sister Licia Mazzia introduces the symbol that represents the SFP presence in the US
ap 3Signs of the presence of the Daughters of Mother Frances in the areas
ap 05The group of Associates during the renewal of their Covenant

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The bells ring out the festivities as we arrive at the Aachen Convent, reflecting the joy of the Sisters of the Poor of St. Francis who welcome us as we joined them to celebrate the 170th anniversary of the founding of our Congregations!

It was the Pentecost of 1845 when our founder, Frances Schervier, launched this extraordinary adventure, and many women have chosen to follow her example and dedicate their lives to God and to the service of the poorest among their brothers and sisters. A charism which, through our two Congregations, has spread to Germany, Belgium, Denmark, the United States, Brazil, Italy, Senegal and the Philippines.

Truly much life has been given and there are many good reasons to offer thanks to God! On the 22cd of May, we celebrated the Eucharist which was presided over by Bishop Aachen Mons. Henry Mussinghoff and on the 23rd of May we celebrated Solemn Vespers on the Eve of Pentecost. At the end of the ceremony, the General Ministers of the two Congregations - Sr. Licia Mazzia and Sr. Katharina Maria Finken – planted a small red maple in the garden of the General House to indicate the ongoing life of the Community and the abundance of grace and blessings it has received. On Pentecost Sunday, together with SPSF Associates and friends, we celebrated with joy and simplicity the riches of the Holy Spirit who has guided our charism throughout these years.
 
During our stay in Germany, we dedicated time to sharing between the two Leadership groups, to visiting the Sisters who live in Aachen at the General House and in Lindenplatz, to praying at the tomb of Mother Frances and to rediscovering the city and the beauty of its surroundings. The rosary that Mother Frances used for prayer more than a century ago slipped into our hands on the days we were there as we prayed intensely to be one with her spirit of love, compassion, audacity, tenderness and courage.

These were moments of joy and emotion. I found the Sisters of the Poor of St. Francis to be very open: they welcomed us warmly and they involved us in the celebration of this jubilee. I felt a great unity among our two Congregations. We were both founded by Mother Frances who courageously accepted God's invitation, welcomed his plan and agreed to carry forward an incredibly important job.

The Sisters who are currently part of the Leadership of the both Congregations gathered together around our common Founder, united by our shared commitment to thinking about and organizing our future. There appeared to be no distinctions between us, because we were united by our ‘polar star,’ Mother Frances. Through different methods, each of us are committed to responding to the appeals of the world’s people, and to carry out God's plan for our Congregations. These were days of prayer and joy as well as walks and meetings. Sr. Maria Helena Carvalho

To have the opportunity to experience Pentecost in Germany was a special grace. The welcome we received from the Sisters of the Poor of St. Francis made me feel like we were sisters -- true daughters of Mother Frances. It seemed to me that they had been waiting for our arrival with joy, a joy that shone in everyone's eyes.

The first holy moment was the affectionate embrace of Mother Frances at her tomb. At that gathering, we entrusted our entire reality to her as well as that of the many people who were with us in spirit.

The unity created between the two Leadership groups was profound, and it strengthened in me the sense of belonging to a single family which carries forth the Charism, even though many Sisters are aging and we are declining in numbers. The more I listened to the Sisters of the Poor of St. Francis share their reality, the stronger my faith grew in God's larger plan for our Congregations.
I also appreciated the day dedicated to visiting the local area, and seeing the beautiful places that helped me in my contemplation. Such beauty brought me peace and brought me into communion with Saint Frances in praising His Creation and His Creatures.

The visit to Sisters who are older and sick was touching. I saw in their faces the beauty of a life "consumed" in total giving -- and a sense of gratitude grew in me for the love of God and for the privilege of the calling. All this interspersed with faith: it was something very big. Sr. Marie Augustine Ndione

It was a great gift to be able to spend a few days at the General House and celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of our sisters in Aachen. I first visited Germany in 1994 with a group of young SFPs-in-training. In 2004, I visited the General House again at a retreat before the General Chapter in Rome. I was touched by visiting the places that were so much about our ‘roots.’ This time, it was meeting the people that touched me, perhaps because I have never before felt as close to them as sisters with this intensity. Twenty years have passed, but this time I had the impression we were experiencing an epochal passage. Not just because of our drastically reduced numbers, but because of life style and choices, because of research into new forms of openness and giving service, because of the courage with which the Sisters continue to testify to Mother Frances. When Sr. Katarina Maria and Sr. Licia planted the small red maple together in the garden of the cloister, I felt the echo of the words that these days resonate most often in my heart: "This tree belongs to you, thus care for it always." May God protect these Sisters of ours and the group of Associates flowering around them. May the Holy Spirit who created us guide our path of growth in communion sealed by sharing the charism of healing. Sr. Marvi Delrivo

ap 4Meeting with the Sisters in Lindenplatz   ap 08Festive Dinner

ap 07With the Bishop of Aachen, Monsignor Henry Mussunghoff

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Published: July, 17, 2015

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