Sr Luisa Robidoux shares with us how the Sisters, Associates and local people celebrated and gave thanks to God in January 2018 for the 50 years of presence of the Daughters of Jesus in Chile.
“How are we going to celebrate the 50 years?”
We first spoke about 50 years of presence in Chile during the annual meeting of the sisters with all the Associates of Santiago, Chillán and Tucapel in November 2016. We looked at why and how we should celebrate this event. By common accord, we felt the need to give thanks to God for these 50 years of journeying together as Daughters of Jesus and as the people of Chile in our following of Jesus.
Despite having left the small town of Tucapel in January 1990, we saw it as the most appropriate place to have “the grand celebration”, as they say in Chile. We also decided to invite the Sisters who had worked in the Chilean mission and who had now returned to their countries of origin.
“Welcome back to Chile!”
As a result, in January of 2017, we joyfully received fifteen Sisters from Colombia, France, Canada and Honduras. We experienced moments of great fraternity, happiness and sharing, together with the many people who helped us to give them the best possible welcome. During the visits, we lodged them in the houses of neighbours and friends. This helped to create links of confidence and friendship which have since continued by means of the Internet, memories and photos.
The charism lives on
On the 27th January, two early-morning buses left Chillán en route for Tucapel. There the people, who had been working and waiting, gave a very warm and joyful welcome to the Sisters and Associates from Santiago and Chillán. It was a luminous spring day and the Tucapel Plaza, decorated for the occasion, was beautiful. Before Mass, we met with the old people, to the accompaniment of songs and dances, in what had been our house. The Mass, celebrated by our great friend and associate, Fr Raúl Manríquez, 92 years old, was very participative and full of symbols, songs and testimonies.
When we came out of Mass, a great surprise awaited us on the patio of our former house: a very beautiful “monument” with the names of the Sisters who had lived in Chile. Symbols represented the Daughters of Jesus:
- our cross
- the sentence, “to honour the sacred humanity of Jesus”
The people of the parish, who welcomed us 50 years ago on the 28th of January 1968, wanted to say in this way that our charism continues to live on in their hearts and in their humble lives.
Afterwards, under the trees on the plaza, we enjoyed a rich and abundant lunch prepared and shared by everyone. The meal was enlivened by Chilean folk songs and dances as well as meetings with people we had known. We must thank everyone. It is difficult to express it adequately, but we are still living and savouring the occasion interiorly.
A gratitude shared by all
We lived the same experience at Chillán on Sunday the 28th and at Santiago on Saturday the 3rd February. Each event, in the countryside, the provinces and the capital, had its own characteristics but showed the same depth, creativity, joy and gratitude.
We should point out that all along, the Associates in the different places were there together with the Sisters, as well as many friends and family members with whom we share our day to day life. Everyone without exception shared in the fiesta, the joy, and the gratitude, as well as the many services rendered. It was an expression of what already exists, and will continue to be so, God willing.
We are also grateful to all the Sisters from the different countries who showed us their aid and friendship in different ways. This communion that we live, throughout the whole of the large family of the Daughters of Jesus, and that we wish to go on living, gives flavour to the Kingdom.
With much love, the Sisters of Chile – Maggy, Noëlle, Adriana and Luisa – say “Good-bye!”
Sr Luisa Robidoux dj