US Sister Mary Pellegrino visits Perth to focus on 'Moment, Meaning & Mission'

By Sr Lucy van Kessel pbvm
Congregation Leader, Presentation Sisters
Western Australia

Sr Mary Pellegrino, a Sister of St Joseph of Baden, Pennsylvania visited Perth last month to address the topic of Communio –relationship and stewardship – as an act of justice, in a session attended by 68 Sisters from 12 congregations and a number of other visitors.

Sr Mary Pellegrino, speaking to Sisters and other guests in Perth.

Sr Mary Pellegrino, speaking to Sisters and other guests in Perth.

 Mary spoke of three movements:

1.       The Moment – (SEE): Naming the moment

2.       Its Meaning – (JUDGE): Making meaning of the moment

3.       Our Mission – (ACT): A Sub-mission of the Gospel

“Communio” is the fullness of relationship, which is happening in those with lives of stewardship, service and justice. Today ‘Truth’ has been politicised and manipulated by those who speak loudest being noticed and attended to. Despite the apparent chaos, randomness and unpredictability in our lives there is a divine order in Christ’s world today. We are called to read the signs of the times and tell the truth as an act of justice.

With the multiple world views, generations and daily changes we feel loss and grief if we stop to notice it. We feel unable to influence public policy, inadequate and unheard. What was, is no longer; we can’t take anything for granted…. We are in the midst of a 500 year epochal change. What, for Religious, were Ministries, are now Industries! The Church has lost moral authority, faith and trust which will not be restored as they were in the past. Parker Palmer says ‘Violence happens when we don’t know how to deal with suffering’ and we are dealing with accumulated losses and grief. We grieve for the loss of the world we have known with clear boundaries and identity.

Sr Mary with some of the guests who attended her presentation.

Sr Mary with some of the guests who attended her presentation.

Yet there is hope: Jesus’ resurrection happened in a grieving, broken community when even the appearance of new life was fearful and disorientating, but the apostles found courage and grew. Like Jonah in the belly of a whale for three days, Esther, praying and fasting for three days and Jesus’ three days in the tomb and ‘descending into hell’ before resurrection we too live this paschal story in losing our dreams and being entombed in darkness while waiting for healing, forgiveness and light.

Just as Jesus went to the most separated people and brought healing and comfort, our work is to illumine the universe by articulating what is happening through story, poetry, symbol and myth. We do this in recognising our fragility and vulnerability and allowing Christ to bring light so something new can emerge and be shared with others. What was dead comes to life, but is different. We can be like a weather-vane, absorbing lightning (pain, grief), letting it pass through us and be grounded, without being overwhelmed.

This is our mission – to witness another way of living so that ‘All shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well’ “For we are so preciously loved by God that we cannot even comprehend it” (Julian of Norwich). We are called to live between the reality of what has been in the past and what could be in a good future. Then we will be people of prophetic hope sharing in the one paschal story of all of creation.