When the Holy Spirit “involves” you never know how it is going to end but you know that it will be an “extraordinary” experience. Yes, because the Spirit is Life and He renews our whole being. It is a fire that makes the heart burn with an unexpected and profound joy. It is a wind that blows. He takes you … wherever He wants!
And so it is that on the wings of the Spirit I literally “flew” to Calabria to participate in a popular mission that the Lord has prepared especially for me. A mission that at the beginning seemed impossible due to commitments and distance, but thanks to the collaboration of so many people, it happened and it was a magnificent experience. With the Spirit it is just to say “Here I am…” and He changes your life!
Now, as I go back to Milan, I review the moments I lived … the many gifts I received: the smiles, the embraces, the joyful expressions, the greetings, the words full of affection. Starting with Monsignor Giuseppe Satriano the Archbishop of the Diocesi of Rossano Cariati,
he with his paternal care and attention who accompanied the mission together with Fr. Joseph the parish priest of Bocchigliero and with the parishioners. All of them were very welcoming, generous, fervent to welcome us in their home, ready to offer always a coffee, juice, sweets, a glass of water, lunch or dinner with local tasty and genuine products of their own.
However, let’s start from the place of Bocchigliero. It is a small town in Ionica Calabria, a pearl set in the Sila mountains, among the green forests and olive plants. To reach there, from Rossano you have to climb for one and a half an hour along a mountain road, amidst fennel bushes and flowering brooms. The town is of curves after curves. Here appears on top the place… what a view! Beyond the hills you can see even the sea. A scenery that filled our eyes every morning. What a vision!
For the popular mission the Bishop invited twenty people: four nuns, Sr. Mercy (Philippine) and Sr. Benedetta (Indonesian) Sisters of Compassionate Servants of Mary, Sr. Francesca and myself Sr. Agnes Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate, some priests and lay people from other parishes of the Diocese.
The popular mission started officially on Sunday morning, when, His Excellency blessed the Cross at the municipality square. It was a beautiful icon of the Resurrected Crucifix, which was carried in procession by some women until the main church where we celebrated the Holy Mass.
We sisters together with Mrs. Teresa, an affectionate woman from Rossano formed a small “community” for a week. We were accommodated in the house of “Aunty” Ida. She is a generous and helpful woman who very much suffered in her life but with a tenacious and determined character. We met her in the morning for a quick coffee before the Holy Mass and then in the evening before going to sleep for a sip of an herbal tea.
During the day we were divided two by two a nun and a “lay missionary” to visit the families. We entered the houses carrying the message of Jesus Easter greetings: “Peace be to you and to this house”. We read a Gospel passage and we commented together, but above all we listened to their life stories. I can always say with renewed astonishment that the hearts of these people whom we met during our visits opened up and emerged memories, lived experiences, adversities and joys. All these things acquired a new light so that the faith may sustain and help them to go on, not to fall, but to seek new ways to resolve their past problems and to face their daily difficulties. Monsignor Satriano invited us to bring to the people the announcement of the Merciful Love of Jesus, Love which is Forgiveness because it does not judge, but runs towards us and welcomes us with open arms.
In the afternoon or in the evening we gathered in the church with the whole parish community to live intense moments and touching experiences, such as the Bishop’s catechesis on the parable of the Prodigal Son followed by the veneration and adoration of the Cross; the listening to the Word in the church of St. Leonard was at the center of these moment, the missionary Rosary, the procession with the Virgin de Jesu, the visit to the two houses of the elderly people…
To give us so much enthusiasm were also the “the way of the Cross” a moment of light and joy sung in the streets of the town, and encountering the young people who showed us their desire to begin a journey of faith to grow together! These moments that touched everyone’s heart in which we perceived the presence of God and “let ourselves to be loved” by Him.
At the end of our mission our hearts were filled with joy and a great feeling of gratitude to the Lord and to all the people whom we met. Truly the Lord Jesus passed through the streets of Bocchigliero entered the houses and spoke to the hearts of the people. How beautiful “to be small and weak instruments” in His Hands!
Sr. Agnese Roveda, Italy Province