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Through the witness of several SFPs, I encountered Mother Frances Schervier. She said Yes to Jesus, who called her to “heal the wounds of the poor and suffering humanity.”  For me she was the first teacher. The life of Mother Frances, which is deeply linked to our healing charism, deeply touched my heart and attracted me to live the charism of helping the poor. 

I have been trying to keep this healing gift alive through highs and lows for these 48 years.  I live my vocation with openness and commitment to God’s will. The certainty that God is the true source of healing is at work within me.  I experience the joy of being a witness to this gift through the mission that has been entrusted during my journey.

As a postulant, I experienced the charism for the first time with Sr. Paola Gesser among the poor in Vermicino and in Milan where I worked with babies at the nursery and children. My experiences have been amazing.  

I witnessed the birth of new youth groups, helped them to live the Gospel and discover their vocation through concrete experiences, becoming a witnessing presence to the Gospel. In time, this also brought fruit for our Congregation.   

 I worked at Campo Italia in Messina as a nurse in a therapeutic community for AIDS and terminally ill patients. It was then that I touched firsthand the new wounds that affected the youth. In those three years, I experienced how Mother Frances was with me in a new way, helping me be an instrument of healing, bringing consolation, hope and giving these patients all the needed care in the cruel stages of their illness
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God’s grace helped me realize that caring for people as a nurse was not enough -- I needed to love them by helping each live with more serenity in their situation. So I helped them gain trust, and realize that God’s hand was powerful and could heal them from their illness, making them smile and giving them a bit of peace.  Fear often hindered God’s work, but I had a deep trust in prayer. This gave me the certainty that our healing charism would bring good fruit in due time. In fact our charism, this healing power, brought about much change in the life of these unfortunate brothers and sisters. During this journey of suffering and trust, some of these brothers and sisters asked to be baptized and we helped them learn about the sacraments. Many were baptized and that brought about so many wonderful fruits!

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Currently I am in a new mission in Dumaguete City, Philippines. We are present as a missionary community in a culture and context that is quite different from our own. Yet being instruments of healing here has the same meaning as before. The poor, marginalized, lonely, elderly, homeless, the abandoned sick people are the same I encountered before in my life.  

Jesus who revealed himself during these years is the same Jesus I encounter today in Dumaguete City. He is the one who carries forward our healing charism. Jesus asks us constantly to be the “Other” -- because through our openness, generosity, and humility, He can work and achieve great things.  

We will need some time here in Dumaguete City, but we trust in Him and move forward  with the work He began two years ago, by working with homeless children and adults. Faith prompts us to go ahead in seeking with trust that same Jesus, and trusting that the healing charism he gave us will make the young tree blossom and bring forth abundant fruit.  

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For me being an instrument of healing is to give witness with my life to our charism and loving God means that the Instrument is God Himself

Sr. Maria Atorino, SFP