WITNESSES: Sr. Ruth María Vallejo

on 15 Jul, 2020
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Medellín (Colombia), 07/15/2020, Sr. Ruth María Vallejo Isaza.- Telling the story is not limited to the simple fact of a narrative, but it goes beyond human understanding; it includes the ability to understand, that behind each person there is a story of each event lived by that person. Cicero had said that “history is a witness of the times, a light of truth, a life of memory, a teacher of life and a witness of the past.”

Sr. Ruth María in the centerSr. Ruth María in the center

A lived experience that becomes history

Today, 25 years after the Beatification of Marie Poussepin, with what joy, we recall that time when we saw the realization of a dream awaited by so many of our sisters, who day after day had believed in the Gospel path traced out by Our Foundress.

The whole Congregation and the Province along with it, made this time of preparation as a space for study in depth and reflection about this person of the Church, who was capable of challenging the miseries of her time and who, supported by Providence alone, knew how to make service of charity, the aim of her Community.

It was a time to return to the sources…step by step, we saw Marie Poussepin ascend the altars, as was well interpreted by the songs of Sr. Margarita de la Encarnación and the magnificent play prepared in the Province by Sr. María Celina Giraldo J. The forums organized in each Structure with the guidelines sent by the General Government helped us to deepen our understanding of this ecclesial and congregational event.

We lived the grace of the Beatification as a memory of the wonders of God in our history, as a spiritual, community and missionary experience and as a new encounter with the Gospel path traced by the humble, pious and charitable Marie Poussepin.

The reflections of Sister Inés Mercedes Mejía Toro, Superior General, and the Positio prepared by Fr. Bernard Préteseille, chaplain of the Mother House and Sr. Madeleine St. Jean enabled us to deepen our understanding of the life and work of Marie Poussepin.

In the Province, all the sisters were invited to “Live one day in Sainville;” to taste the simplicity of that life marked by the clear sound of the bell inviting for prayer, work and sharing of the bread of fraternal love…Sr. Margarita de la Encarnación with a great deal of details, made us experience what was meant by: “work prays and prayer works.” It was a real return to the sources to taste what belongs to us.

Now, let us go to Rome for a minute: the celebrations began with the General Chapter in a retreat house in Montecucco. The theme: “Marie Poussepin, Social Apostle of Charity”, enabled us to study in depth the vision of Our Foundress, from the privileged perspective of the Service of Charity. We experienced all the events as an invitation to live fully the contemplative dimension of our apostolic vocation and to look at the miseries of our time as the new Sainville, from where Our Mother Foundress continued to call us to give a new life to her missionary project…a sending on mission, received from Sr. María Fabiola Velásquez Maya, the new Superior General, gave us the signal to be open and available to read the signs of the times and to continue the journey of charity begun in Sainville.

And finally, the awaited moment arrived…On November 19,1994 we began the celebrations in Rome. We, the Sisters coming from all the Structures of the Congregation, Dominican friars and the lay people who shared the mission with us, reached the Auditorium of Augustinianum where the Forum with the theme “Marie Poussepin, her Dominican Community at the service of charity” would take place. This theme synthesized the studies done in the Provinces and the General Chapter that had just finished and it enabled us to listen to the voice of the laity also in relation to their experience of life in the Congregation.

At the same time in each Province, Vice-Province and the Mother House, the Forum was held with the prepared theme and the experiences lived in the local communities. It was a moment to experience how the Congregation vibrated in unison with the event that had brought us together.

On the same day, in the afternoon, in Rome, we gathered together for the renewal of vows and to celebrate as a family, the beatification of three members of the Dominican Order: Marie Poussepin, Father Hyacinte Marie Cormier, Master of the Order and Sister Agnés de Jesús, a conventual nun. According to the expression of St. John Paul II, “they continue to witness after their death, the vitality of the Order which has not ceased to be a light for the Church…the mere mention of these names constitutes today a call to each one to take up the torch again and to transmit to others what one has received.”

Finally, the long-awaited day arrived: November 20, 1994; at 5:00 am. the queues of sisters and laity very close to the Congregation were already waiting for the doors of St. Peter’s Basilica to be opened. Right on time, one by one, everyone walked to the place indicated…The celebration of the Eucharist took place in an atmosphere of solemnity, in which each moment was filled with meaning…What an emotion to see the banner of Marie Poussepin being unveiled in that place! With a solemn and deliberate voice, His Holiness Saint John Paul II proclaimed the new Blesseds and among them: “MARIE POUSSEPIN, Foundress of the Congregation of the Dominican Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin”… the applauses, tears and embraces came very quickly…at that moment the whole Congregation was present there.

Referring to Marie Poussepin, the Pope said: “…In fact, she was able to recognize the living presence of the Lord of the universe in the person of the lowliest. To serve the poor is to live the blessedness of the kingdom here and now…the fire of divine love in Marie Poussepin would not have existed without a deep spirit of contemplation and self-oblation…” The religious celebration was followed by a fraternal and festive sharing, reading of the messages that came from everywhere, telephone calls…all the sisters wanted to know every detail of the event that brought us together. How could we forget those moments loaded with history!
On the following day we left for Paris to begin the pilgrimage to Dourdan, the cradle of Our Mother Foundress; from there, after a short bus ride, we continued on foot in silence to Sainville: the Convent as the Community is known, the well, the crypt where the remains of Marie Poussepin rested till they were transferred to the Mother House, the cell, the Chapel with the sober and significant tableau of the Trinity…everything spoke of a living presence, a burning flame which wants to continue to burn in the hearts capable of giving everything in the service of charity, many times silently and unnoticed…

From Sainville we left for Janville, the first foundation of Marie Poussepin, where, is preserved the chapel in which the Act of Reconstitution of the Community was signed during the Chapter of November 21, 1802. In the evening we reached Tours, the seat of the Mother House. What a great emotion to be at the Tomb of Our Mother Foundress…there, in the small lamp which is burnt out day after day, were present all the sisters, the future of the Congregation and its mission…

After drinking for a few days from the sources of the history of the Congregation, the pilgrimage came to an end. Each step, each place had been a contact with the beginnings and a discovery of the marvelous history that the Lord had written during more than three centuries of its existence, through each sister who believed in this Gospel path traced out by Marie Poussepin.

History does not stop… today we are called to make that miracle of the canonization of our Mother Foundress possible with our life and mission, as a gift of the Lord for his Church.