terça-feira, 9 de setembro de 2008


Sr. Angela Furian, SSpS
Sr. Iracema Cassarotto, SSpS,
Sr. Ma. Delia, SSpS
FEATURE: Medals of Merit for the SSpS community in Casal de Cambra, Portugal
by Sr. Maria Delia, SSpS and Sr. Ma. Mendes, SSpS

As a community, we strive to respond relevantly to mission demands through our direct involvement with the people. Primarily, as a witness to our being consecrated women missionaries, we live close to the people, facilitating their access to possibilities to make their lives better. We become the “voice of the voiceless” and the “bridge” between the poor and the public agencies that are responsible for assistance in health and medication, home feeding, documentation, social security, jobs and others.We try to gain knowledge of and give a deeper value for the different cultures and ways of life of the people, promoting their integration in the community. The concrete sign of growth in the community as a result of the Sisters’ ministry is the existence of the “Groups of Catechesis of Children and Youth.” The Viola’s Groups serve to initiate liturgies that reveal the new meaning they have for their lives- lives once left vulnerable to drugs and other dangers. This is a result of the good formation given to the Catechists and the youth. Their families also collaborated in information dissemination and fund-raising activities to build a Center of Socio-Pastoral Support beside a small chapel in the community. All these took place from 1996 to the present.

On June 29, 2008, we celebrated Holy Mass on the occasion of the Beatification of Bl. Josepha. On this same day, our community of Casal de Cambra, received the gold medal of merit from the Municipal Government of Sintra. At the same time, Sister Angela Furian also received the silver medal, given by the same municipality. These medals are clear testimonies of the relevant presence of the Sisters in the Municipal Urban District of Casal de Cambra.

We wish to share with the readers, not only this beautiful news but also the significance of our presence in this community. The interview was done by Fr. António Leite, SVD, Rector of Provincial House of Lisbon Portugal.
What do these medals mean for the Missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit present in Casal de Cambra?
¨ We were surprised with this decision of the Municipality of Sintra. We never hoped to receive such recognition, but we see it as a sign of the credibility and the commitment of the Congregation to the families reallocated in this urbanization process. For us, it is an incentive always to be more available for this service, to be close to the needy and suffering through our missionary presence.We know that Sr. Angela was there at the start of your presence in Casal de Cambra.
When did you arrive to this place, and what made you take the challenge of being present in this urbanization process?¨
We started our mission here in the month of June 1996. Our coming was due to Fr. Valentim, SVD. We responded to the express desire of the Municipality of Sintra for the presence of a Religious Community in this urbanized area - integrating in the Special Program of Relocation (P.E.R.). Sr. Pompeya Martinez, who recently passed away, and I made the procedures for this foundation with the conviction that we were responding to the challenge that was part of our mission.Thus passed years and today, you, Sister, continue with the same characteristic smile.
Could you speak to us about how you “conquered the hearts” of so many people who share with you their daily joys and difficulties?¨
Sr. Pompeya, who began the realization of the project, stayed for some months. Then, other Sisters came - Hermelinda, Maria José and Maria de Lourdes. All of them did very good work. Being in contact with the families, they felt that the parents wanted primarily, catechetical classes for their children. We should note, however, that the Chapel of Santa Marta was only finished in July of 1999. Only then was space available for the activities of the Sisters. The daily Eucharistic celebration was also made possible for the people of this part of Casal de Cambra. All these activities helped in the integration of the two parties. The Sisters who came afterwards went to other areas. They came complete with needed skills for their apostolates. In this way, Sr. Maria Lourdes was able to form a Group called Viola. Today, this group, composed of other lay people, animates the Christian community's celebrations. With Sr. Delia’s arrival, a small group was formed called Catholic Labor Youth (JOC). The journey continues until today - in unhurried and patient service through my missionary presence and that of Sr. Iracema.
What challenges do you see today in the midst of the people?¨
Up to now, all of the activities with the children, adolescents, adults and elderly have been held in the small chapel and in the small sacristy. But we have good news! Starting in the month of September, the Municipality of Sintra will give us a space in one of the buildings. This will provide ample room to assist the groups and each person better. With this possibility, we hope to reach out to people who have not yet come.Lastly, the medals were received on the day that Mother Josepha, one of your co-foundresses, was beatified in Holland.
This year, we are also celebrating the Pauline Year. Do all these events have some connections?¨
When I was on the way to the awarding ceremony of these medals, I thought that at that same hour the Holy Door in the Basilica of St. Paul in Rome was being opened, as well as Mother Josepha's Beatification in Steyl (Holland), close to the house where our Congregation was born. At that precise moment, I felt a confirmation, a humble certainty, that God really wants us to be here in this place. In the light of St. Paul's example as the great announcer of Jesus Christ's Gospel, of the Centennial Year of St. Arnold and St. Joseph, and in joy and gratitude for Mother Josepha’s beatification, I can only utter this humble prayer: “Father, May Your Kingdom! Make us humble and docile instruments of your peace! Transform us with Your Spirit so that we can say, with St. Paul: It is not I who live but Christ who lives in me.” I live in the certainty that Love impels us.