Day 4: Recalling the past!

When going back to the roots of any family or Institute it's essential to remember that history is constructed in many ways. During these days whilst visiting many places in Piedmont we have let buildings, churches, schools and various other places tell their story. However the history of our religious family cannot be understood without the people! It is not just archeology or nostalgic musings! So today is the day we dedicated to listening to our 'older sisters' who told us about their experiences, especially of the foundational experiences abroad. The morning was spent listening to two sisters in particular, both of whom spent numerous years between Korea and Japan after going there to bring our PDDM life to Asia.

Mother Pia with the juniors

The first testimony was given by our enchanting Mother M. Pia, whose youthfulness and simplicity at over 90 yrs old is a genuine tonic for all who come in contact with her. She was in Japan at the same time as Sr. Luciana (mentioned in the previous blog, healed through the intercession of Bl. Timothy Giaccardo). She went to Japan in 1952 to begin the foundation and was later joined by Sr. Luciana. Their first manual labour consisted in working in the paddy fields and doing laundry for other people so as to establish their presence there. It was during this time that Sr. Luciana became sick with TB and Mother Pia told her to make the novena to Bl. Giaccardo, confident that he would hear her prayer as Japan needed Sr. Luciana. Life in Japan was never easy but these young sisters were enthusiastic and even managed to learn Japanese: not an easy feat at all!  The hard work payed off and soon the first vocations began to arrive. Today our sisters continue to give a credible and committed presence in the local and national Japanese Church. We continue to be very grateful for these sisters who dared to believe fully in the adventure of religious life and the word of the Founder.

Mother Ancilla with the juniors

The second testimony was given by Mother Ancilla who spent 33 years in Korea, forming many generations of Korean sisters during her time in the vocational and formation sector. Before this she had dedicated 18 years of service in Japan, again a laudable commitment. They were hard times in the aftermath of the war, yet, as Mother Ancilla reminded us, they had made this decision to follow Jesus Master in obedience and love, going where this would bring them. The journey was made by boat and could last months. The sisters soon learned how to create their 'community' on board, or find their 'chapel' so they could continue nourishing their prayer life and spiritual duties en route to the new destination. What struck us about all these sisters was their transparent witness and the gratitude for all that they have received. There are no regrets and indeed they encouraged each one of us to embrace the missionary life if we have the opportunity for it is an experience that no book can teach.

It was very important for us as younger sisters to listen to the experience of those who made countless sacrifices for us. We don't just own part of history but we have a history to construct, to continue the work of the past ( Vita consecrata 110).