In this Heart together

Last weekend I was in Roehampton at a vocation discernment weekend, with six lovely young women open to exploring how and where God might be calling them to be his love on earth. In the course of our discussions and reflections we talked about the gift of our internationality as RSCJ, the constant call to go beyond ourselves and our national borders, and the wealth of our connectivity. This weekend I was back in Roehampton for a Province day, in which we reflected on the calls and challenges for our life and mission arising from our General Chapter and other meetings and processes beyond this little island, but of which we are, nonetheless, a part. Halfway between the two came International Women's Day, and on the same day, Catholics in the US began to keep Catholic Sisters' Week. So in the midst of all this, it's not surprising that international sisterhood has been in my thoughts!

As my blogger profile says, I grew up straddling two cultures, happily interchanging between two languages (with the odd bit of each parent's dialect thrown in), and aware, since my earliest days, that I belonged to something far bigger than Britain. As I wondered where my call to religious life might take me I knew I needed to join an international congregation: I just couldn't imagine belonging to a mono-cultural community; I knew I needed something wider and more diverse, with all its challenges as well as richness. 

From the Sacred Heart High School,
Hammersmith - the Goal of Community
Certainly, over the past twenty-three years, I have experienced and appreciated that breadth and wealth of cultures and interchange, here in England as well as in Mexico and Rome. Totting it up, I realise I have lived at various times with women from Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, France, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Japan, Kenya, Malawi, Malta, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Poland, Spain, Uganda, Uruguay and USA. I also have RSCJ friends in several other countries, including a twin in Korea, and of course sisters who were most certainly my consorelle when my parents were ill and died in Italy. Social media has undoubtedly aided this sisterhood, enabling me to keep in touch with many, and to connect at some depth with RSCJ I have yet to meet - and may never meet, though in so many other ways we are already connected. We are sisters, pledged to each other's growth and wellbeing, sharing a common call and mission, and a common home in the Heart of Jesus. As the image says - we're all in this Heart together.

And now that the UK heads inexorably towards Brexit our internationality feels like even more of a richness and a blessing. As this country narrows and constricts its outlook and our leaders pull us towards isolation, the Society draws me even more strongly into breadth and diversity and global inter-connectedness. Thank God for that! - and for a Heart which is truly unbounded, and large enough to welcome and contain the entire world!