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25 years


casadei-carlaSr. Carla CasadeiDuring this year – which for me is a jubilee year – I find myself looking at a statement made by Pope Ratzinger when he was still a Cardinal: “…for the Church the time has come for less organization and more Holy Spirit.” For me this statement clearly outlines the experience of the huge life change I have undergone as the daughter of Mother Frances during the past few years. I have moved from a time of intense administrative ministry for the Congregation, carried out for more than 12 years, to a ministry that is more pastorally and spiritually oriented.

For three years I have been ministering at the Center for the women religious who are part of the Focolare Movement. Currently there are about 3,000. However, if one counts all women religious who have had some form of contact or appreciate the spirituality advanced by the Movement, then the number is closer to 50,000 throughout the world. This is not about institutions or rules, organizations or structures, but rather about real people coming from all corners of the world. These people want to remain connected to a contemporary charism that offers a breath of fresh air for the Church because it is centered on the idea of unity and mutual love. The freshness of Chiara Lubich’s charism of unity and the Focolare Movement in general have helped me live more intensely my own Franciscan vocation. Chiara Lubich herself, on more than one occasion, spoke about the contribution that the charism of unity gives to Consecrated Life. She said that women religious find that they are more themselves by living it out: the Franciscans are more Franciscan, the Benedictines are more Benedictine, the Carmelites are more like Carmelites, and so forth ….. This is because the Spirit does not deny itself. To the contrary this strengthens and revitalizes everybody’s vocation.

dotin-turin-for-a-conference-for-consecrated-and-religious-women-of-various-religious-institutesIn Turin, for a conference for women of different religious and consecrated religious institutionsloppianoLoppiano - Florence: meeting with young people from different religious institutes

I currently live in an inter-congregational community with other women religious. This experience truly seems to me to be a prophetic sign of the communion among charisms. It is also a tangible response to the need for openness and dialogue in the reality of consecrated life as well as of today’s Church. This is certainly a challenge to live in two different environments as a Franciscan Sister of the Poor -- in my community on the one hand, and the Movement on the other hand. However, I do not
feel divided. On the contrary, to give back the Love I have received from Him with generosity and confidence unifies, renews, and gives meaning to brotherly and sisterly relationships. It especially opens new and larger horizons in which our healing charism can serve more fully.

Therefore, I cannot not thank God enough during my jubilee year for the gift of the charism of unity which, from the beginning of my vocation, has led me to the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor and now leads me again to heal the wounds of a religious life that suffers and is in need of healing.

Thank you, Mother Frances!!

Sr. Carla Casadei, SFP

Published: December 9, 2013