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We met in Vermicino from February 26th to 28th for our Area Assembly; our objective was to deepen our first Chapter Call - To Be Prophets of Dialogue and Healing in the Church and throughout the World. We used the symbol of a “Door” to represent passing through and opening up to new and unknown realities while protecting us from inclement weather.  It also is a symbol connecting us to the Jubilee of Mercy and the Journey of the Universal Church.

aa it 16 04Sr Liciaaa it 16 03Fr Massimo GrilliWe participated in two act of formation: A biblical one, with Fr. Massimo Grilli, a Professor at the Pontifical Gregorian University, and one examining our charism with sr. Raffaella Maresca.

Fr. Grilli familiarized us with figure of the Prophet described in the Holy Scriptures and sr. Raffaella with our charism’s gift of the prophecy demonstrated in the life of our foundress, Mother Frances.

Sr. Licia Mazzia, as General Minister, enabled us to stretch our vision to include the entire Congregation. The presence of our Associates helped enrich and expand our awareness to the world and the Church.

Our dialogue in the workshops gave all of us a chance to hold joint responsibility in building our future by way of identifying prophetic and concrete actions that the Lord asks us to fulfill for the good of the Church and the world.

We would like to offer you here below some of the sisters’ experiences:  

aa it 16 05Sr Tania, Roberta, sr PaolaIt was wonderful to come together again, as sisters and associates; being prophets of dialogue truly begins among us in the simplicity of our personal realities.

Although experienced in different ways and places, Mother Frances’ charismatic appeal characterizes all our efforts.

For me, personally, it was useful to hear again words that reminded me of the profound meaning of our vocation. 

Contrary to the power struggles we see around us in social, political, and work environments, we identify with all who suffer for humanity, and who are welcome rather than compete with others.

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We were reminded that, indeed, the Prophet does not search for any advantage for himself and is not jealous of other people’s happiness, and who recognizes hope where others see only death and failure.

The prophetic experience of Mother Frances embodied the values of mercy, searching, welcoming, surrendering to God’s Will, and the courage to make choices that go against the times. Her faith and forgiveness, steadfastness in living Franciscan poverty, and dialogue with civil authorities, remind us of our roots - and of what we are called to be. They invite us to invest our energies to support the well-being of those who do not have a voice, like Mother Frances did. Today floods of migrants are blocked and refused entry at our borders, clearly emphasizing that the need for the prophecy of Mother Frances continues

The various ways we worked together helped me to feel free to express myself and to participate fully. I felt affirmed by a new call from God who is using us to bring Love and Mercy everywhere, and to give meaning and hope to wounded creation. The Assembly challenged us to find new ways to respond to the needs of the poor. It inspired us to renew our attention to listening to the needs and wounds of today.

The outcome of this Assembly was to renew my passion to forge ahead into the future and continue committing myself to what the will of God invites me to live. To enthusiastically strengthen the evangelical call to be a prophet of dialogue and healing in the Church and the world.

Sr. Paola Zaccaria, sfp

aa it 16 09Sr Barbara T., sr Giuliana, sr Tiziana M.I have come to consider the Assembly as a place of communion where we, sisters and associates reunited as the family of Mother Frances, can take care of the relationships that connect us and of our prophetic life of missioning.  It is an opportunity that repeats every year that we can chose each time to attend with seriousness and faith.

The ecclesial climate that we are presently experiencing has lead me to think that the chosen theme represents a “could be” that is pushing us to look toward the future. Of course, dialogue is not always spontaneous and easy to create, and if we want it to be a source of healing, in the Church and in world, the challenge is truly to initiate it first among us. The presence of two facilitators undoubtedly granted us the space and the possibility to share our life experience in a much more in-depth way.

The focus on leading the group towards a responsible embracing of the incarnation gave a sense of “added value” to what emerged.  It was no surprise to confirm that our hearts could lead us to be present far beyond our possibilities! I am grateful to God because we continue to explore his ability to grant healing in our lives, so that we can carry it forward as the treasure we shall share with our many brothers and sisters, who have been wounded by difficult lives. They are the ones we meet as we return home.  It is an unexpected grace to find ourselves with that bit of additional courage to continue to walk together in hope.

Sr. Tiziana Merletti, sfp

aa it 16 010Sr Raffaella, Andrea
aa it 16 011Sr Marina, sr Licia
aa it 16 014Eva and Alberto

As an associate, I wanted my family to meet and spend time together with my other family. I hoped my wife and my daughter, Ilaria and little Noemi, would accompany me but a family decision determined otherwise, so they stayed in Padua, while I left for Vermicino. I left with the following need:  to see and to be with my sisters and with other associates who also would be there. I wanted to be able to see once again the faces and the smiles that I had not seen and savored for some time. I enjoyed the hugs that we exchange in the joy of seeing each other once again, and the enthusiasm created from the special experience we shared. I delighted and benefited from the opportunities that sr Licia and sr Marina had dedicated to the associates.

My mind and my need for knowledge were satisfied during the moments of formation with Fr. Massimo and our own sr Raffaella and her team, and with Alberto and Eva, acting in their expert, professional role as facilitators.  I nourished and filled myself also during my experiences with the local communities: true, simple, moving, ordinarily extraordinary because they are works of God.
Even in the moments of dialogue that were more complex I spoke the words of Mother Frances, saying: “but may the Lord be praised in everything, both in what is easy and in what is difficult” because even in those moments I saw “that we were dealing with His work and not with a creation of humankind.”

It was a unique and different assembly, just as were all the assemblies that preceded it.
Just as each person’s life is a book so I would say are the assemblies.
What did I bring home with me?  In my toolbox I have placed this new tile: “Remain solidly united to the family of Mother Frances”. And I’d like to add: solidly united in health and in sickness, in times of both good and bad fortune, so as to be faithful to my vocation and to my covenant.  And so, I can say once more, “...the time we spend together invigorates me.”

Andrea Canova, sfp Associate


Published: April, 7, 2016

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aa it 16 013Associates with sr Giannica, sr Licia and sr Marvi

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