Lenten Recollection for women religious
Sr. Mary McCarthy
The Lenten Recollection of the Religious Sisters of the Archdiocese of Port Moresby was held on Saturday 16th March.
It took as its theme: ‘Touching the Wounds of Jesus’. It was attended by 55 sisters from different congregations working in a wide range of ministries, with children, youth, women and families.
The Sisters chose to help one another to become more open to the pain of the victims of abuse in our communities. ‘Put your finger here, and look at my hands; then reach out your hand and put it in my side’ Jn 20:27, were the words of Jesus to Thomas.
“We are now challenged to open our hearts to the pain and the wounds present in our world”, said Sr Mary McCarthy pbvm as she explained to the sisters at the start of the program.
In her introductory remarks Sr Mary share her experience. She said, “One day recently, after school, one mother came to talk to me. She said, “My little daughter has been sexually abused and I am ready to speak out. We have to stop this happening”.’ In the sharing of experiences in a small group, this teacher found out, that like other teachers, children and parents are now speaking out and calling for a stop to sexual abuse”. This should no longer be kept hidden. Neither for cultural, religious or other reasons.
The video of Luis Cardinal Tagle, Archbishop of Manila’s talk, given at the recent Sexual Abuse Summit in Rome was screened in two parts. The Cardinal challenged the Sisters to understand and to promote forgiveness and to become powerful agents of healing.
However, justice must first be done. This means reporting to authorities and to the police, who will charge criminals leading to a court appearance, sentencing and imprisonment thus enabling the victim to begin to heal.
One Sister summed up her experience: “The talk was good, the small group sharing gave us an opportunity to hear how others feel. It enabled everyone to actively participate. I came away with deeper commitment to stop all abuse of children and vulnerable people. I felt stronger because we are all united in our determination to stamp out this abuse”.
The sisters then had the opportunity to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Eucharist. In his homily, Fr Ambrose Pereira sdb dwelt on the need to break the culture of silence when manipulation is used as an abuse of power.
“Listen to the ones who are abused and speak up for them”, he encouraged the sisters.
After a prayerful morning and a delicious shared lunch, the sisters had a meeting to plan the rest to the year’s program inserting activities that will enable them engage with the marginalised.