Visitation: Popular Catholic Word

Paul Keggington

February 08, 2009

Some words have several meanings. While sentences determine the meaning of words, people and  events determine the popular usage of specific words. ‘Visitation’ seems to be a currently recurring Church expression.

visit_angelico.jpg Here are a few purely ‘Catholic’ examples:

Example 1

The ‘Visitation’ is one of the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary (Note picture of Jesus’ Mother Mary embracing her cousin Elizabeth).

Example 2

Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity have ‘visitation’ every year. Typically completed by the end of February, it is part of an on-going dialogue in living the vow of obedience.  Sister Louise Hembrecht, OSF, Community Director, or another member of the General Administration, schedules a few days for some one on one conversations and a group discussion with an entire local community of Sisters in their geographical location.

The purpose is to: maintain a shared vision among the Sisters, encourage each other in living faithfully the vows, give an occasion to express concerns and needs, and see the Sisters in their living and working situations.  This ‘visitation’ keeps the Franciscan spirit vibrant.

Example 3

A January 29, 2009 Origins magazine headline read: “Report on the Vatican Visitation of U.S. Seminaries”. Here teams of three or four U.S. Cardinals and U.S. Bishops with top Vatican officials traveled to seminaries and formation houses in 2006-2006 to pay special attention to the quality of the seminarians’ human, spiritual and intellectual development.  The ‘visitation’ report affirmed the strength of the people/programs involved and offered recommendations for inprovement.

Example 4

On January 30, 2009, The Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) and the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious (CMSWR) received a letter from Cardinal Franc Rodé, Prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, announcing an Apostolic Visitation of the principal Religious Institutes of Women in the United States.

In this context ‘visitation is defined as ‘a formal but personal meeting with the superiors and members of a religious community which offers an opportunity to comment on various aspects of community and religious life”. Sister Louise, Community Director of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity,  has already made contact with Sister Eva Maria Ackerman, OSF, the official spokesperson for the appointed apostolic visitator Mother Mary Clare Millea, superior general of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Mother Clare is not new to the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity. She spent a few days at the Manitowoc Motherhouse on another occasion in 2003. At that time she was in leadership for the U.S. province of her Congregation.

Can you give other examples of the use of the word  ‘visitation’?

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