Here’s a Franciscan Community Director’s Rome and Assisi October 2011 Journal

Paul Keggington

October 23, 2011

Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity’s Community Director, Sister Louise Hembrecht writes about her travels to an international meeting with other Third Order Franciscans which includes being in Assisi for the 25th anniversary celebration of  the First World Day of Prayer for Peace which John Paul II convoked in Assisi October 31, 1986.


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Sunday, October 30, 2011

We did get to Assisi for the “Spirit of Assisi” on Thursday, October 27th. It was good to be there in the crowd, but those who saw it on TV saw more than we did. Only the dignitaries got into the Church. We arrived a little after 8:00 a.m. and joined the crowd that was beginning to form outside St. Mary of the Angels. It was cold and I had only brought a light jacket with me so I was glad when I began to be engulfed by the crowd.

The Holy Father arrived at 10:45 a.m. By 11:15 the Church doors were closed and we watched on the large screen. It ended at 12:30 p.m. Then we went to the friary of the Atonement friars for dinner. It was good to sit down and be warm. It was supposed to a “fasting” dinner – just rice and water, but the friars decided that we had stood for more than four hours and so had prepared a banquet for us. I was glad. The food was delicious – pasta, then meat with pomegranate, potatoes, green beans, and salad. Then a dessert cake served with cherry marmalade and blackberry marmalade – both homemade. Next came Lemoncelli that the Atonement Sisters in Assisi had made – the alcohol content seemed a little too much for me though later I wished I had embibed. (At least I would have been warm on the inside.)

By that time, it was time to walk to San Francesco. (The Atonement Friars are just across from Santa Chiara.) Only three of us went – the others decided to stay at the friary to watch on TV. I went – again we were just part of the crowd from 3:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. when it ended. Young people sang and danced to entertain the Holy Father and other dignitaries, there were statements of solidarity, a moment of silent prayer, etc. We watched outside on the large screen.

Finally it was time to travel back to Rome. Those of us who went to San Francesco walked to the cemetery outside Assisi where the van with the others met us. I think many of us dozed on the way back to Rome. (Photos: Sister Louise Hembrecht, Father Jim Puglisi, TOR)

Wednesday, October 27

It’s fairly early in the morning here and I have my meeting preparation finished so I thought I would write.

Later in the morning on Sunday, we went to Piazza Navonna. It was rather quiet. There was lots of art work on display but the mimes were just setting up. It wasn’t all that crowded.

From there, we took the bus to St. Paul’s Outside the Walls. That is very beautiful. We prayed at the tomb of St. Paul. I took a picture of Sister Kay and Sister Monica Mary writing a petition for the Community.

We ate along in Trastevere and then went home so I could finish repacking. Then Sister Monica Mary and Sister Kay took the bus with me to come here (the Convent of the Suore Francescane Insignanti on Via Nicolo Piccolomini).

The Sisters here have a province in Pittsburgh. Their former superior who is part of the International Franciscan Council too is from Reading, Pennsylvania. The new superior, elected in July, is from the Czech Republic. Very few speak English as most here are from the Czech Republic or Slovenia. Italian is spoken at meals.

Our group sits together. Five of the eight speak Italian. Four of the Italian speakers also speak English. Conversation goes between the two languages.

We met all day Monday and Tuesday. Yesterday afternoon, we had the financial report. That was in Italian as Sister Santina does not speak English. Numbers are numbers, but it was a challenge to make sure I understood where the money comes from and how it is spent. We have a dollar account and a Euro account and investments in both to further complicate matters.

I had the prayer on Monday. Today (Wednesday) I am the Moderator/Chair for the meeting. I think I have everything ready. By the way we have Mass here at Noon. Father James Puglisi, an Atonement Friar, is the chair of our Council. I haven’t been outside since I got here. Was hoping to today – it’s raining but I did bring an umbrella.

Will write on Friday or Saturday. We go to Assisi tomorrow – leaving at 5:30 a.m. and hoping to be back here by 11:00 or 11:30 p.m.

Sunday, October 22, 2011

These are some pictures from Saturday night’s concert. The last one was taken just after I shook hands with the Holy Father.

The Concert was Anton Bruckner’s Te Deum  performed by solists and choir. Then the orchestra performed Symphony #9. It lasted about two hours. I enjoyed it.

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