In recent months, one of our communities has joined the Caritas project to welcome refugees from the war in Ukraine. One sister recounts the rich experience she had and the challenges she encountered.
A spell of healthy oxygen has flooded the whole Church with the creation of the Synod, desired by Pope Francis. The provocations of the synod which, having reached the continental phase, has chosen to reflect on Isaiah’s invitation to enlarge the space of one’s tent (54,2), have urged our community of consecrated missionaries to join the Caritas project which foresees the widespread reception of people fleeing the war in Ukraine.
In reality, a missionary community, as Pope Francis recalls, is an outgoing community. Moreover, the output is not only physical. It is often existential. Making space involves narrowing your needs to let others who are in need to enter into one’s life.
It has not been difficult for our community to welcome two more people into our physical space because the environment of a community facility is large in itself. It was more difficult to make space in life, to steal time from our actuality for a cordial listening, for a confidential understanding, for an empathy towards the pain and fatigue of those who have suffered traumas, separations, bereavements.
Even if the project asked the community to offer only room and board to any guests, there was the desire to be able to go further, to know how to walk a piece of the road together, as universal sisters, as witnesses of Christ. There was the expectation of being able, as the Holy Father asks, to be able to approach the “suffering flesh of Christ”, to show his compassionate face.
The initial desire to put people at ease, to make people feel at home, has been measured against some challenges. The biggest challenge is to bring together their expressed and hidden wounds. In making ourselves present, in simple listening, some tears can be dried, some pain lightened and some hope enlightened. An expression of gratitude then appears printed on the face of the guest. Another challenge was to generate trust, respecting the rules without excessive rigidity, demonstrating interest in the life of the guests and making it clear that one is no stranger to their struggle to live in a foreign land.
Our guests have been an opportunity for the community to grow in several aspects: in learning a “synergy” in offering help, taking action beyond the roles established at the beginning and playing as a team; at the same time letting someone pull the strings altogether. Our community grew when it was able to “invent” initiatives to intercept these people’s pain and need for life. Thanks to our guests, our community is more aware of the great gift and extraordinary potential of our lives as people consecrated to God and to his loving plan.
We have also become aware of the gift inherent in the availability to welcome, a precious gift because by welcoming the guest one welcomes Christ himself.
Enlarging the space of the tent is always a richness: it broadens the horizons and, while the world enters the house, the house lights up with universal colors.
The editorial staff