WITNESSES: Sr. Joanna Fernandes

on 01 Aug, 2020
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Roma (Italy), Sr. Joanna Fernandes, General Treasurer, 08/01/2020.-

A Witness to History

Some people remember every event: they know who was there, what they said, what they wore, if they were laughing, smiling or sad, etc. I am not one of those. I am lucky I remember my feelings. It is some of these feelings that I want to share with you as a “witness” to the beatification of Marie Poussepin.

As a delegate to the General Chapter of 1994 I had the joy and honor to participate in all of the celebrations for the beatification of Marie Poussepin in both Rome and France. In Rome, My fondest memories and feelings were the forum in Rome of the various presenters especially Sr. Reetha Mechery’s presentation and that of Dr. Michael Collins from the USA. On the day of the Beatification, the joy of seeing so many sisters, priests, friends and students from the various provinces filled me with overflowing gladness. The celebration of the Mass, among so many things: seeing two of our young Indian sisters, Sr. Saleena Parakadath do one of the readings, and Sr. Philomina Vengachottil be part of the offertory procession. Being awestruck during the unveiling of the banner in tribute to Marie Poussepin as Social Apostle of Charity.

In France the delight of going to Dourdan and Sainville and sharing with the local citizens the beatification of “one of their own”, was very special as we witnessed their joy and pride.

With all of this however, there was one experience that stood out for me as no other. One or 2 days before the celebration in St. Peter’s Basilica, I was asked to be part of a small group of sisters to greet the Pope after the mass of the beatification. I was surprised, honored and filled with unexpected pleasure to help represent the Congregation at this moment, yet not sure what to expect or know what to say.

Sister Joanna greeting Pope John Paul IISister Joanna greeting Pope John Paul II

This picture with these few words say it all. Right after the mass, we were escorted to a side room in the Basilica. There we met Pope John Paul II. First Sr. María Fabiola Velasquez Maya, new Superior General and Sr. Ines Mercedes Mejia Toro, former Superior General greeted and thanked the Pope for this great honor, (they are not in the picture). Then came Sr. Madeleine St. Jean, archivist of the Congregation at that time, Sr. Maria Josefa Casas Martin from the Province of Spain and myself. When it was my turn to greet him, I could only hold on to his offered hands. I do not know if I said anything, I just remember with great joy having his hands in mine and the awareness that I was in the presence of the Pope and that through him, the Church was recognizing the Congregation and that the Lord was showering blessings upon us.

A tremendous, unforgettable experience! May we have the courage to live all the blessings being poured on us now as we celebrate these 25 years.