Brazil : commemoration of 50 years in the service of life

"You have seduced me, O Lord, and I have let myself be seduced." (Jr 20:7) How can we talk about the marvel of being called and letting oneself be seduced? Yes, God has done marvels for me and in me in the course of these 53 years of passion and compassion. How good it feels, with the Vocations Ministry in view, to celebrate the actions of the Lord! (cf. Acts 1:8)

With all of the Brazil Núcleo, after an Assembly, we began this time of celebration in February, in São Paulo. All the basic communities with whom we have been involved and other friends were present. How good it was to listen to the accounts of the action of God taking place through the Congregation, through me – "My Father goes on working..." Jn 5:17. 
 
During the 2nd, 3rd and 4th of May there was the triduum and on the 5th we had the big celebration in Minas Gerais. It was a time of feeling, of relishing, of hearing from people’s own lips their discovery of the word, of the poor, of dignity of the person, of community, it was experiencing the sacred, touching the love of Jesus of Nazareth during those 53 years of consecration in the Congregation of the Little Sisters of the Assumption. 
 
I share some words that touched me deeply: “With the coming of the Little Sisters, there was a before and an after; we were not the same and, with regard to material things, the neighbourhood changed. It was like a Passover, the Liberating God passed like a ray of light brought by the Congregation, through each Little Sister, some of whom have already experienced their final Passover and the communities still remember their names These words came from members of the communities of which I was a member for 23 years! 
 
It was moving to hear them talk about the "invention of Father Pernet and Marie de Jesus" or "our Congregation" – this is one of the sayings of the ILFA (Lay Brothers/Sisters of the Assumption Family). 
 
I admired the testimonies and the way the members had assimilated the Charism, how they had changed their way of living family life, their affection for those of the group who were suffering and for the less fortunate. They remembered the times when we knocked on doors asking for something that would relieve people’s hunger and the fact that from the day they opened their door to the poor they also opened their heart to God and from then on they participated in a different way in their local community. 
 
The same happened with those who visited people who were suffering: many of the group had an experience of the SUFFERING SERVANT, of becoming a saviour; many of them discovered another way of living their Christian life. There were situations which, as Fr Pernet said, they knew only by name and great courage and love were needed, above all at Rio Pequeno in São Paulo. That was the way the Care Team came into being, remaining attentive to a number of difficult situations. In Ibirité, in addition to those who were suffering, the group embraced the cause of nature, beginning by cleaning the town, collecting items that had been thrown away and using them as source of income for the construction of the Church and the awareness of a greater love for Nature. Later, the struggle gave rise to the movement for the defence of the Serra do Rola Maça, which everybody knows about through the account given by the Ibirité community. 
 
With great joy the groups remembered and talked their discovery of God, and of Jesus Christ through the prayers in the houses and Bible study. This gave me great joy as it is something dear to the heart of our communities: the project of Jesus Christ continuing through the Christian groups always resonates with us. 
 
Here is something of what was said: 
 
"You are a presence of God for us." 
"A light on our path, helping us of stand up and recognise our rights, to love one another more, to perceive things, to look for paths to follow." 
"You gave me back the will to live and to care for my children, in spite of my limits. Everything was dark and you brought light, hope and love. You were always at my side, helping me in everything and leading me to depend on God and Our Lady." 
"Father Pernet will never be canonised for miracles that the Church demands because his miracles are those of putting people back on their feet, helping them to participate in their community for the benefit of others, for the powerless, in the transformation of society. They are ’down-to-earth’ miracles." 
"They helped us to accept the district as it was and to get to know other persons through the prayers in the houses, to initiate our basic community group and to struggle for a change in our conditions: water, light, drainage. We learned to love our town, to build the Church through our own work: they were joyful days that let us experience the joy of working together." 
 
"With regard to Fr Pernet and Antoinette Fage, it was a different way for us to understand the Church, the extension of the Reign, we like it very much; this proposal for following Jesus Christ is well worth while." 
"You Little Sisters are few but you make a huge difference in the places where you go; you touch our existence and help us to be wholehearted Christians." 
"There are so many things to say but it is difficult to express them because sometimes it was just an embrace in times of suffering, a smile of encouragement in sadness, help in time of fear, a glance that restored confidence – but these were enough for us to continue along the path of life without stopping, nobody saw this, but God knows how good it was and how He touched us, how much love we experienced." 
 
During the days of the triduum it was very clear that the verbs: see, hear, know, go down, bring up etc. were present, as in Exodus 3:7.
Everything was prepared by three townships and various basic community groups: Betim, (Jardim Teresópolis) Contagem (Água Branca) and Ibirité where the Triduum and the Celebration where held. 
 
A few words about the Celebration: 
The St Jude basic community, the host for the celebration, is situated within a huge township and the church, which was built with voluntary work, is also very big and it was full. The theme of the celebration was Light. Each person held a small light made by Sister Beth, in spite of her illness; this contributed to a celebration that was full of light, giving a different life to it. 
 
The opening hymn, "Light of God", set the tone for the celebration, the final verse being: "This new life, communion with God that I received one day in baptism, may it continue increasing and transforming me until Christ be all my life." 
 
It was a celebration by many persons in simplicity and joy, with depth, it spoke of God… It is very difficult to talk of life, emotions, passion, Love – all this was in the air that we breathed, I am conscious that this Treasure is carried in an earthen vessel (cf. 2 Co 12:9-10). 
 
In our programme, with a view to the Vocations Ministry, there will be two celebrations, one in July in my home territory of Estrela d’Oeste/SP and the other in Caruaru/PE, always with the hope of making ourselves better known and, who knows, some young women with the grace of God may become enthusiastic for Jesus of Nazareth and for the way this is expressed in the Congregation. 
Through some words that were spoken during these celebrations I had the grace of seeing that my passion for Jesus Christ and the Congregation had passed on to the people, for example: "You are a fighting woman, with an unconditional love for Jesus and the poor, always joyful and ready, with others, to look for changes. A striking presence of light, strength, goodness, cheerfulness and simplicity, but also with great indignation and courage in the face of injustices." 
 
For all of that I am able say with them and with my Sisters that "a new world is possible" and proclaim in all the songs that: “The Lord does great things for us and in me." (cf. Lk 1:49) 
 
Sister Ernestina 
25/11/2013
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