Angela Randazzo and the Experience of Caritas

Angela Randazzo, of the Company of Caltanisetta, tells us about her experience at Caritas. On behalf of the Italian Conference of Secular Institutes, she represents the Italian Secular Institutes in the National Council of Italian Caritas.

Thanks to Angela for her valuable service and for sharing!


My commitment in Caritas began back in 1998 as a councilor, responsible for immigrants, in the diocesan council of the Diocese of Caltanissetta. My small village, called Delia, located in the center of Sicily in the province of Caltanissetta, with a little less than five thousand inhabitants, is a country that has always had a strong migratory flow. My own family starting with my father and all his family, all my brothers and sisters have emigrated to Argentina, Venezuela and Canada. I myself spent five years in Venezuela. This long experience of migration, certainly, has helped to create in me a particular sensitivity about this problem and has developed in me a particular attention to the people who today are forced to go through this same experience.

With the passing of time, our territory, strongly affected by the phenomenon of emigration, has found itself witnessing a reversal of the situation: from a country of emigrants we have become a country of immigrants, with a considerable presence of people from North Africa, Morocco and Tunisia and from Eastern Europe, Romania, Ukraine, etc.

In order to try to respond concretely to this new phenomenon, our diocesan Caritas established in Delia the Caritas Listening Centre for Immigrants, named “Marianna Amico Roxas,” as a tangible sign that our local Church feels close to the people living on the margins of our society, giving me the responsibility of coordinator of the Centre. The main objective of the Centre has been to develop in the community the culture of welcome and solidarity, which allows us to incarnate the commandment of love: “Love one another as I have loved you” (Jn13:34), through the services of listening, information, accompaniment, help in finding housing, work and integration into society, as well as the provision of basic necessities.

This year I was called to represent Secular Institutes in the National Council of Italian Caritas, an unexpected request and a very demanding task. On one hand I am honored. On the other hand, it is an increased responsibility. Caritas Italiana is a “pastoral body constituted by the Italian Episcopal Conference” to promote the witness of charity in the community in collaboration with other ecclesial bodies. It uses the various bodies provided for by the statute, among them the National Council, to achieve this objective.

The Council consists of: “three Bishops who are members of the Presidency; Director and Treasurer; one Delegate for each ecclesiastical Region (priest or deacon or member of an Institute of Consecrated Life, or Society of Apostolic Life, or lay person) appointed by the respective Episcopal Conference;  four members appointed respectively by the Italian Conference of Major Superiors (CISM), by the Union of Major Superiors of Italy (USMI), by the Conference of Italian Missionary Institutes (CIMI) and by the Italian Conference of Secular Institutes (CIIS); of four lay people elected by the National Council of the Apostolate of the Laity” (Art. 11, Italian Caritas Statute).

The cordial, simple and familiar welcome of the director and the other members immediately made me feel at home. New horizons opened up, expanding my understanding of this institution, which operates on a local and international level.

Caritas Italiana was founded in 1971, at the behest of Paul VI, in the spirit of renewal initiated by the Second Vatican Council “to promote the witness of the charity of the Italian ecclesial community, in a manner appropriate to the times and needs, in view of the integral development of man, social justice and peace, with particular attention to the last and with a prevalent pedagogical function” (Art.1 Statute), always puts the person at the center by involving him/her in the search for solutions, making him/her a protagonist, in the hope of achieving autonomy in building his/her own future. Caritas carries this service forward through the daily action of almost 200 diocesan Caritas units throughout Italy, the Listening Centres, study and networking with other realities that provide their service to the poor.

This mission involves fundamental and constant formation work with the diocesan Caritas team and new directors, with the professional community of Caritas formators, in support of the integrated formation plan. The annual national conferences are significant moments of formation and culture. In 2019 the conference was held in Matera on the theme: “Charity is culture.” In 2020 the theme of the conference will be “Charity is mission”; it will take place in Milan.

In the field of immigration, the priority commitment is to promote the culture of welcome and respect for diversity. Caritas continues to carry on the project linked to “humanitarian corridors.” This means welcome in parishes, diocesan structures and communities, in families, but also promotion of projects on family reunification of refugees in Italy.

Young people commit themselves to civil service and summer volunteer projects. Collaboration with MIUR has developed attention to the school world, with competitions on welcoming and inclusive communities.

The commitment of Caritas Italiana is not limited to the Italian context, but extends to the various countries of the world through the accompaniment between local Churches with the implementation of micro-development economic and health projects. International emergencies have seen Caritas Italiana in the forefront with Caritas International, as with the earthquake in Iran and Iraq, the fires in Greece, the humanitarian crisis on the Angolan border of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the floods in Kenya and earthquakes and tsunamis in Indonesia, just to give a few examples.

In Syria the project was a mosaic of mother-of-pearl to share to denounce the horrors of war because art has always been a megaphone and can become a tool to rebuild societies torn by conflict.

In Venezuela, where a crisis defined as a “complex humanitarian emergency” persists, Caritas Italiana has carried out a wide-ranging humanitarian program throughout the country, both food aid and basic necessities, as well as health: drugs, health care and medical assistance. Also our Diocesan Listening Centre “Marianna Amico Roxas” has contributed by collecting medicines and welcome and help for many Italians and Italo-Venovuelans who have returned home because of the socio-political crisis. The crisis is still continuing, consequently also the action of Caritas.

In Kenya, through the Slumsdunk project, basketball has become the tool to build tomorrow: a basketball school has been opened in Mathare, offering basketball courses to young people and training for young coaches of the future promoting an alternative to street life. Already 20 boys and girls, thanks to the project, have obtained scholarships in the most prestigious schools in Kenya.

Several projects have also been carried out in Italy. I quote some examples.

In Reggio Emilia-Guastalla, with the project Building Signs of Hope, it was necessary to develop paths of proximity to poor people, offering them paths of constant accompaniment involving their home countries. In order to foster attitudes of concern for people in difficulty, teams of workers with different skills were set up to support pastoral units in taking on charitable works and hospitality as an authentic lifestyle of Christian communities.

In Fano-Fossombrone-Cagli-Pergola, the promotion of the “road home” project has tried to meet the many people and families who experience severe instability linked to housing: late payment, evictions, difficulties in finding housing. All this to give real help without forgetting the educational approach.

In Caltanissetta, Caritas has started its own grocery story in the centre of the city. Don Marco Paternò, diocesan assistant, presents this new reality in this way: “Its special quality is the dignity of the person, who does not receive a package to take home, but enters this small supermarket and chooses what s/he needs, as it is done in all supermarkets. The person shops with a card loaded with points, a way of empowering the person. For the community, the store has been a novelty, gradually raising awareness. In the first year, several volunteers from the parish Caritas unit have gotten involved. A beautiful network was born, which I hope will grow more and more.”

These are just some of the projects and commitments that Caritas carries out to bear witness to God’s love for human beings, for every person, especially for those who live on the margins of society. Welcoming the other, the nearness that is expressed by coming close, by sharing, by willingness to serve, not only helps people experiencing hardship, but also gladdens people experiencing being a gift [1].

Angela Randazzo

[1] The presentation of Caritas’ commitments and activities at national and international level, come from the 2018 Annual Report of Caritas Italiana.

The President writes to us

Valeria, the President, writes us a letter that can be found through the link below.

Furthermore, she communicates that these events are being canceled:

  • Days of formation and spirituality in Brescia May 1 to 3, 2020, for Directresses, legal representatives of the Company, Vice-directresses, Councilors, and leaders of initial and continuing formation
  • The international convention of the Federation planned for July 24 to 28, 2020, at the Abbey of Novacella (Bolzano/Bressanone)

 

Dear consecrated brothers and sisters

We are sharing the letter from the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, sent to all consecrated men and women on the occasion of the particular Lenten season that we are experiencing.

 

 

Kenya’s Group Is Growing

The Group of Kenya took an important step forward on November 29, 2019, when Perpetua made her consecration for life in Nairobi. Perpetua was the first Kenyan in the Company of St. Ursula. In 2011 she contacted the Federation with a request begin this way of life. In 2012 the President (then Maria Rosa Razza) and her Council accepted Perpetua’s application. The President appointed Mary-Cabrini Durkin, a Councilor, to guide her, through twice-monthly Skype conversations and annual visits.

The Group has grown. Eunice entered in 2014 and made her first consecration in 2016. Leah and Esther were received into the initial journey in 2018, and Jacinta began a process of transfer from a religious congregation. They meet monthly; Mary-Cabrini joins them by Skype. Three more women are in discernment about their vocation.

Joyful song and dance filled the chapel of the Savelberg Retreat Center during the recent ceremony. Perpetua’s friends and relatives attended. Her sisters conducted her to the altar. Mary-Cabrini received her consecration as a delegate of Valeria, now the Federation’s President.

Father Terry Charlton, S.J., was the celebrant of the Mass. The novices of the Ursuline religious sisters, along with their directress and Provincial Superior, formed the choir, joined by members of the Company.

After Mass, more dancing and much laughter accompanied a festive meal.

Perpetua’s life-commitment plants the roots of the “vine”: the Company of St. Ursula, even deeper in Kenya.

Mons. Zito has returned to the Father’s house

Today, October 8, the vice-assistant of the Federation’s Council, Mons. Gaetano Zito, returned to the Father’s house. Let us accompany him with our prayer and our thanks for all he has done for us.


“The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; as it pleases the Lord, so has it happened….”

Remember him as you wish… as a “great man of great learning,” an “outstanding scholar,” a “deeply cultured intellectual,” an “excellent historian,” and none of these would be inappropriate, because he was all of this and even more. But for me he was always and only a true father, an angel that our Lord in his infinite mercy placed on the pathway of my life. No… I am certain that before the Lord none of the grand titles that we humans glory in possessing have any value! Because at the end all passes away….  True? But love remains! Love and the passion with which we live it. The remarkable, vast learning attributed to him did not remain something merely intellectual or abstract in him, but with amazing intelligence he succeeded in translating it into daily actions. His great knowledge served only to demonstrate heavenly realities in concrete forms. He wore every honor with a hearty sense of humor and deep charity. For me he will always be a great man of God. A holy priest. A simple father. As we discovered: an angel …

A Catanian sister

Report by Mary-Cabrini

We propose the reflection of Mary-Cabrini Durkin held on the occasion of the International Study Conference from 23-25 November 2018 in Brescia.

Title: The International Federation

On the road to canonization

The diocesan process for the beatification of MARIA BORGATO closed recently in Padua. She died in the Ravensbrück concentration camp for women, not far from Berlin. She formed part of a chain of solidarity with Franciscan Father Placido Cortese, also arrested and killed for having sought to put Gospel teaching into practice.

In the presence of Bishop Claudio Cipola, the postulator of the cause, Mons. Giuseppe Magrin (former Assistant of the Company of Padua) took the oath. Now all the documentation passes to Rome, to the Vatican.

We ask Maria Borgato to watch over our Companies from heaven and help their good and altruistic deeds flourish, as she did in her own daily life.

One of the sisters present at the ceremony commented:

“ … The figure of Maria became almost palpable through the speeches of the authorities who spoke one after the other. Each one emphasized in different nuances the extraordinary strength of this simple woman who could so humbly and courageously demonstrate that she belonged to God and loved others. Silently and without ostentation, Maria made her life a total gift. In her own body she experienced the deprivation and annihilation of her dignity, not fearing persecution and death, in order to save the lives of others.

“While the different participants in the process placed the final signatures on the documents that were then inserted into boxes for transport to Rome, I thought about how many material proofs and rational arguments are needed to demonstrate one person‘s holiness, a holiness that local history has already recognized for a long time, which no box could fully contain, because it is something that goes beyond our categories and is grafted in the most secret places of the human heart.

“We are grateful to God and to our sister Maria for the gift of her life and for her witness. Her example helps us face lovingly and bravely the trials that every day presents us, personally or in society, sure that God and our mother Saint Angela will not leave us alone.”

Read more about MARIA BORGATO

A path of holiness: Spiritual reading of the Constitutions of the Company


We present Kate’s text translated into English and French…

       

 

 

Greeting from Cardinal Pietro Parolin

Rome, July 11, 2018, Feast of St. Benedict of Nursia, St. Peter’s Basilica at the tombs of the Popes

Greeting from Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State

This year the Eucharist occurs at the tomb of Saint Peter, a particularly significant place. I did not want to miss this particular encounter, and I greet all of you, who represent the Federation of Companies of Saint Ursula, Secular Institute of Saint Angela Merici, here in Rome for your ordinary Assembly.

Cordial good wishes to the out-going leadership who arrive at this point with so much fruit ripened in these years, and sincere good wishes also to the new leadership, that they may be able to do productive work in service to your Company.

I have read one of your magazines from 2016, devoted to presenting the history of the Federation of the Company of Saint Ursula that was edited by Prof. Gheda, to the effect that the Merician charism substantially has four calls:  the call to holiness, the call to console and to confer dignity, the call to renewal, the call to bring light into the world and into history. Yours is a beautiful vocation, a very beautiful vocation, a very beautiful call.

I would like to comment on this vocation, this call, from a practical angle, remembering the great person whom we celebrate today and whom the liturgy presents for our veneration and imitation: Saint Benedict of Nursia, the father of western monasticism, teacher of civilization, and luminous example of holiness. If we wanted to summarize his teaching, we could do it this way: Humanity has a single fundamental duty and task: to seek God, because a human being does not develop fully all alone and is not completely fulfilled all alone; a human being cannot be completely  happy without God or against God.

When all is said and done, Benedict merely represents with a different variation the fundamental thought of Augustine at the beginning of his Confessions: “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are ever restless until they rest in you.” This is also the source of his program of life for monks, summarized as “Put nothing ahead of the love of Christ.” And in this, dear brothers and sisters, consists that holiness that Pope Francis recalled and recommended to all Christians in his recent apostolic exhortation, “Rejoice and Be Glad.”

It is a call and a proposal valid for every Christian, more than ever in our epoch, when we feel the need to anchor life and history to solid spiritual reference points. This is the pathway of holiness that you too, dear sisters, must travel.

This is the only way that daily renewal will be possible, this is the only way you will be able to carry light to the world and to history, consolation and dignity to those deprived: by searching for God and putting nothing before the love of Christ. Now too the world needs women who belong completely to God and experiences of closeness; it needs women capable of generous service and of bringing people together; it needs women who love the Church and are obedient but who also know how to support it and stimulate it with suggestions that have matured in conversation with Christ and in direct experience in the fields of charity and assistance to the sick, to the marginalized, and to children in difficulty.

On this point, Pope Benedict XVI said, “It is the gift of a maternity modeled after Mary. The Madonna’s heart is the cloister where the word continues to speak in silence. At the same time, it is the furnace of charity that motivates courageous deeds from a place of a persevering and hidden form of sharing.”

I close these brief reflections, hoping that they are simply an expression, an affirmation of my esteem, my affection, closeness and encouragement.

I wish you every good thing in your personal apostolic life, and I assure you of my prayer, while I entrust myself to your prayer in this Eucharist you are about to celebrate. Have a good day and a good journey.

Homily of Archbishop Carballo

Rome, July 7, 2018

Homily of Archbishop Carballo for the Eucharistic Celebration at the Opening of the Assembly

Secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life

(Ez 2:2-5; Ps 122;

2Cor 12:7-10; Mk 6:1-6)

Holy Scripture:

Brothers and sisters, behold the mission of the word that we have heard. This word is meant to become for you and for me a lamp and a light for our journey. If we do not want the word to be dead or sterile, but want it to bear fruit, we must welcome it as a lamp, a light. For this we must listen to it, that is, we must welcome it into our hearts, so that we too may be able to become an interpretation of the Gospel, as Benedict XVI asked us some years ago in his very beautiful apostolic exhortation “Word of God”: to become a living interpretation and exegesis of the Gospel.

This is the mission that unites all. Our rules may separate or at least differentiate us, but the Gospel unites us, the word unites us. This is, says the Council, the absolute rule of the consecrated life.

Pope Francis says that it is the supreme rule of the consecrated life, and so we must turn to the Gospel, we must welcome the word that is the light for our life.

In this word that we have heard I would like to emphasize three aspects or, if I could put it this way, I would like to deliver three aspects:

1st aspect: We are sent.

I am sending you, the Lord said to Ezekiel.

Mary, Anthony, Peter, John…. I am sending you: This is the mandate that the Lord gives each one of us who have heard this today. Like Jesus in the Gospel, we too are sent to go from village to village, along the world’s roads, and especially you, a secular institute.

Be careful not to close yourselves up in the sacristy; we do not need you in the sacristy. Be careful not to be a photocopy of us religious; the Church does not need photocopies that vanish after a few years. Sixty years ago the Church recognized your form of life as consecrated women in the world, consecrated seculars, in the secular environment. Do not give this up; if you do, you should vanish. You know what I am talking about. I am not someone who sweetens the fatal poison. Be eager about your vocation and be consistent with your consecration as consecrated seculars, consecrated in the world.

Like Jesus, then, we are sent. Sent for what? Like him, to teach. To make beautiful speeches? No!

The world is overflowing with beautiful speeches and does not need any more words. What the world needs above all is the word, the word that becomes witness. When the Gospel says that Jesus taught with authority, it means this: he was not making small talk, he was not making slogans. What, then, are we sent to say?

What we have heard. Watch Jesus: he does only what he has seen the Father do, he says only what he has heard from the Father.

But who are we? Do we think that we will save the world? No! Absolutely not! We can say only what we have heard, do only what we have seen, act as does the prophet. We too are called to teach, to live, to proclaim what the Lord is saying; nothing else, all the rest is only seeking for attention: me, me, me.

The Lord called the disciples to be with him, and he has sent them.

We are certainly called as consecrated persons, you as spouses according to your spirituality derived from Saint Angela; we are called to full communion with the Lord. We are called to be able to say what the Lord says: that communion is fundamental.

The contemplative dimension is also for you who live in the world; if you do not want to be of the world, you must be contemplatives. Communion with the Lord is vital, essential; it is fundamental.

But be careful not to deceive yourselves. Jesus calls us to be sent immediately, and so he puts us on the world’s roadways. He calls his disciples to be with him, but at the same time to be sent.

Look then at the reason for our full communion with the Lord. Everything else is just a self-deception, especially for you who are consecrated in the world.

The Pope insists so much on a Church on a journey, going out, and consecrated life goes out. We demolish it by contemplating – excuse my language, but I feel that I’m with family – by contemplating our own belly button.

In his letter to consecrated persons, the Pope says: Do not be victims of your own littleness. Or, I would add, of big changes, squabbles and problems… we all have them. If we contemplate only our own problem, we finally smother ourselves. Young people prophesy, old people dream. May none of us be deprived of dreams, because as long as we’re dreaming we’re alive, we’re young. The day when we lose the capacity to dream, old age has taken over. The first aspect, then: sending – we are sent.

2nd aspect: We are sent into a field where sowing seeds is not at all easy.

We see this in the Word of God: Ezekiel must preach to a rebellious people, to a hard-hearted people, to a stubborn people. The prophet’s mission has always been difficult. We consecrated persons can give up many things, but we cannot forget, says the Pope in his letter to consecrated persons, Prophecy. Either we are prophets or it is better to disappear from consecrated life.

Even Paul does not feel himself at the height of the ministry to which he has been called. He speaks of a thorn in the flesh. Scripture scholars would like to know more about what Paul was saying, and they construct various hypotheses. He was probably talking about some obstacle to feeling at the height of the ministry entrusted to him. At the same time, Paul (like all the apostles) had to taste the sour wine of persecution, insults, privations, and so many other difficulties that he encountered in his proclamation of the  Gospel.

Finally, in today’s Gospel, Jesus is rejected by his own people. Here is the fulfillment of John’s words in the prologue to his Gospel: “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” His own people said, in effect, “We don’t need you. Maybe when our hungry stomachs need to be filled or our sick people need to be cured, but your preaching does not interest us. Tomorrow we will listen, when we have nothing else to do.” This is the lot of the prophets, this was the lot of Jesus, this is the lot of anyone who prophesies. There is no other road. We see that Jesus had to feel a little frustrated; he was human. I think that this may be the only situation where it is said that Jesus could not do anything; Jesus was powerless before his own people.

3rd aspect: Many difficulties, but we are not alone.

The Lord is with us, in the mission that he has entrusted to us, and when we feel the weight of our weakness, like Paul, the Lord tells us, “My grace is enough for you.”  But here we must overcome another temptation.

We prefer to act without needing grace, because the ego, the attention-seeker, would be out. But the Lord makes us understand that our chariots and horses bring us nothing, that only in weakness can we be great, because that is where we can experience that the Lord’s power is manifested even in our weakness.

If nothing is impossible for God, as Luke says in his Gospel, we can say with Saint Paul, “I can do everything in him who strengthens me.” Be careful, though, not to seek “everything” in buildings, in our chariots and horses, so that we sink as Pharaoh’s chariots and horses sank.

I am well aware that some of your Companies are going through difficulties, perhaps especially because of lack of new vocations, and I know that there is a danger that buildings may suffocate your charism.

Be careful about buildings; there are three types:

1st The ones that we must maintain in order to manifest our charism.

2nd The ones that we must renovate in order to manifest it.

3rd The ones that we must let go of.

A general chapter, a general assembly like yours, can do no less than make serious discernment, even about buildings.

In his letter to consecrated persons, the Pope gives us criteria, posing a question: Do our buildings serve the mission, or is the mission functioning in view of the buildings? Do our buildings manifest that we are (in your case) consecrated spouses of Christ? Do you continue what you can and as you can, maybe letting go of fundamental elements of full communion with your Spouse, just to maintain buildings that are here today and will be gone tomorrow? Please be courageous and do not wait for tomorrow, when it could be too late. Do what you should do, remembering that we are never alone, and that we must not fear weakness. In his homily for February 2, 2013 – which I consider a bit of a last testament to consecrated life, delivered a few days before he left the chair of Peter – Pope Benedict invited us all to accept our littleness joyfully and, keeping faith alive, we too will get to the point where we can boast, with Paul, in our weakness.

Dear sisters, we are sent into an environment of disbelief, distrust, indifference… this is the most serious problem facing the Church, when not even our own people listen to us, those we think of as neighbors. His own people came to take Jesus away, saying he was out of his mind. If they treated the teacher this way, what can we expect? This is certainly not an easy reality; it calls for trust, trust in the Lord.

Dear sisters, I wish you a federation assembly with much dialogue, not chit-chat. There is no dialogue without listening; listen to each other.  Then I wish that you may let the Holy Spirit work, which must not be taken for granted. May you be able to say, “The Holy Spirit and we have decided,” not changing the language to “We and perhaps the Holy Spirit have decided it.” For this purpose, may the assembly make its decisions in a climate of prayer, in a climate of discernment. In consecrated life, this is the fundamental word for living the present with passion and the future with hope. Discernment on a personal level: Lord, what do you want me to do? Discernment at the level of the assembly: Sisters, what should we do? The three elements in discernment that can never be lacking:

1) The Gospel, with the Gospel in hand and heart, because only with this can our life be justified.

2) The charism, your own charism: Be secular, remain secular, not religious in a second or third category. I see a problem for consecrated life, how many times we religious are becoming secular and you seculars are becoming religious. This doesn’t work. Let each one remain with her own vocation to which she was called, and let each one rekindle the gift she received from God.

So, discern in the light of your charism as consecrated seculars, then in the light of your charism as spouses, and be united. Holy unity, your foundress would say, which is a fundamental element for you, unity that we will be able to translate into communion too, not uniformity. Each one of you should live the charism in your own culture, thus not uniformity, but always unity. If in the name of charism this unity, this communion would get broken… you will know that there is no charism there, nor is the Lord there, because the only thing that divides is the devil, the one who separates.

3) The third element which must be present in our discernment as an assembly is, or are, the signs of the times. I often say that the fundamental question is not what our founders did; the question is what would our founders do here and now?

This is why John Paul II in his exhortation “Consecrated Life” invites us to reproduce with courage the holiness and the creativity of our founders, their holiness and creativity.

Sisters, have a good assembly and may the Lord bless you, bless your families, your journey. You know that our Congregation is always open to help as we can.

Have courage! Forward! Forward! Forward!

Let no one rob you of the joy of following Christ. Let no one rob you of the Gospel. If they steal the rest, let it go and don’t waste your energy or strength to get it back.

Never let them rob you of Jesus. Otherwise we would have to go to the ends of the world to regain him.

Have a good assembly!

(transcribed from a recording, not reviewed by the author)