Meeting Pope Francis- audience for the 9th PDDM General Chapter

Sr. M. Louise pddm
From the 29th of April to the 29th of May, two Sister Disciples of the Divine Master (PDDM), originally from Athlone, Sr. M. Louise O’ Rourke and Sr. Josephine Fallon, gathered in Rome, together with 51 other Sister Disciples of the Divine Master for their General Chapter. During this gathering the Sisters, representing the 1400 sisters in 31 nations in which the Order is present, elect the new Superior General and her team, deal with pressing issues, promote renewal and discern priorities according to the changing times of the Church and society.
Sr. M. Josephine Fallon, originally from Wolfe Tone Terrace was present at this gathering, representing the Disciples of the Divine Master in United States of America. Sr. Josephine joined the Order in Ballykeeran in Ireland and went to the States in January 1971 where she has been ministering since in different roles. Presently she is the Delegation Superior there and resides in New York. In that same community, there is another Disciple of the Divine Master from Athlone, Sr. M. Anne Breen.
Sr. M. Louise O’ Rourke, originally from St. Ruth’s Park, represented the Disciples of the Divine Master in Ireland, who are especially known to the people of Athlone for their Centre and Adoration Chapel in Castle Street. At present, Sr. M. Louise is based in their Dublin community where she works as a church lawyer for the Archdiocese of Dublin, co-ordinating the Office for Religious and assisting in the Office for Clergy.

Sr. Josephine meeting the Pope
For both sisters, the experience of the Chapter confirmed for them the beauty and the challenges of belonging to an international Order, as consecrated women in today’s world, to seek unity in the diversity of cultures and experiences as a religious family, joined by the common legacy of the Founder of the Order, Blessed James Alberione.  For the month, they worked and discerned with responsibility, firstly to elect the new team and then with openness and dialogue, to see how they can walk together to bring the Good News of Jesus’ love for all people, especially those most broken by life’s challenges.
When an Order elects a new Superior General, often the Holy Father Pope Francis, will grant a private audience to the Chapter Assembly. This audience took place on the 22nd of May 2017, in the Consistory Hall in the Vatican, just an hour or so after Pope Francis met with the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins.  Sr. Louise shares: “After the address of our new Superior General, Sr. M. Micaela Monetti to Pope Francis, the Pope then gave an address to us. It’s well worth a read! It has a lot to say about contemporary religious life including this: “ Never tire of exercising continually the art of listening and sharing. In this time of great challenges, that demand of consecrated people creative fidelity, impassioned research, listening and sharing are more important than ever before, if we want our life to be fully meaningful for ourselves and for the people we meet.’ After his talk, each Sister had to the opportunity to personally greet the Pope. When I got there, he recognised the Irish flag I had in my hand and jokingly wagged his finger at me, asking me why I didn’t come before to say hello to President Higgins! I then told him that we look forward to welcoming him, God willing, for the World Congress of Families which will take place in Ireland in August 2018. He smiled and said in Italian: “Chissa!”, that is, “Who knows!”.  I gave him the Irish flag so he’ll have it for next year! It was a very precious moment and he was very relaxed and was present to each person who met him. I also asked him to pray for someone sick and he said he would, and then asked my prayers for him.”

Recalling her experience, Sr. Josephine says it was indeed a great privilege and a special grace to meet Pope Francis.  During the brief conversation, he thanked her for answering the call of God and asked her to pray for him. In almost every encounter that the Pope has, he ends it, asking people to pray for him. In turn, Sr. Josephine also thanked him for the wonderful work he is doing. The conversation was in his broken English, but they both understood each other.

After the Sisters met the Pope, they were given a gift of blessed Rosary Beads, The beads, they say, are a reminder to pray for the Pope:  “He doesn’t have an easy job. Pray for our Pope, he’s breaking new ground in many different areas and he’s not afraid to push people out of their comfort zones in the name of truth and justice, especially for those most marginalised. He’s belongs to a religious order, like us, so he knows the challenge which religious men and women are faced with today and speaks from experience. What we can bring away from the gathering with him are his words to us: “Do not join the prophets of misfortune, who do great damage to the Church and to consecrated life.”  Yes, nowadays it’s a hard time to be a nun or a priest but it’s a blessing to be able to serve God in this way, with joy!”


  1. Religious life must be very challenging nowadays, but it must be very rewarding too


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