As we celebrate the Pauline Centenary, we also celebrate opportunely the 90th anniversary of the PDDM foundation. And by a gracious coincidence, this is also the 40th anniversary of my total consecration to the Divine Master. Another member of our PDDM community here in Fresno is also a jubilarian. Sr. Mary Crucis D’Amico is celebrating her 70th anniversary of religious profession. Last August 17, 2014, Sr. Crucis and I renewed our vows in the presence of the members of the Pauline Family, relatives and friends. At the end of the Eucharist presided by Fr. Mike Goonan, SSP, I spoke briefly on some experiences and insights on religious life. Here are some of the thoughts that I shared that day:
Oblation – the spirit of sacrifice
Immolation is the spirit of religious consecration. One day in 1949, Sr. Mary Crucis was about to leave for her mission in the U.S.A. She was given an hour to bid her family goodbye. Her dad was toiling in the field. He was informed and started to run. But he could not run fast enough. He saw the bus winding down the mountain trail. He wept and cried: “Figlia mia, non ti vedrò più!” (“My daughter, I will not see you again!”) He passed away and never saw his beloved daughter again. Of course, the way she radically left her family is no longer done today. In most religious congregations, the members are given proper time to bid goodbye to their families.
In 1956, our founder, Blessed Alberione, wrote on a holy picture to Sr. Mary Crucis: “Keep faith in the salvation of your dad; there are many reasons to believe that it is so. I celebrate Mass on his behalf. Now this is what you should keep in mind: I will see him in heaven. I would like to secure myself of a beautiful place there.” This is the joy of religious consecration; there is sacrifice, yes, but also the assurance of eternal life if we correspond to the grace of God. Our loved ones, too, share in this promise. In a way, like the obedient, faithful Abraham, we too hear the Lord say, “All the families on earth will be blessed through you” (Gn. 12:3).
Generativity – the need to transmit the charism to the next generation
In the recently concluded Pauline annual retreat led by Fr. Mike Goonan, he underlined the duty to remember the good we have received from the older generation and the duty to care for the next generation.
Personally, I see the beauty and mystery of the generation of the Pauline-PDDM charism being actualized in the “here and now.” Here in this sacred space of the convent’s chapel are four generations: I was one of the formators of Sr. Nympha many years ago when she was a postulant in Mumbai, India. She is my “spiritual daughter.” Now Sr. Nympha is assigned here in the States as formation mistress for postulant Lesley. In a sense, Lesley is my “granddaughter.” And I wish to recognize the presence of Lesley’s “great-grandmothers” – my novice mistress Sr. Tiziana and Sr. Rosario, my formator when I entered the convent when I was an aspirant. From them I have learned the values and imbibed the spirit that shaped my Pauline-PDDM character.
Sr. Crucis and I celebrate “the gift of persevering love” in the context of the Pauline Centenary celebration. We therefore say: “To all who have strengthened us in the gift of persevering love and to all who have shared in the joy of a faithful YES, our heartfelt gratitude. Together with Mary, Mother of Joy, we give glory and praise to God, whose action in our consecrated life is sheer grace.”
Sr. Mary Margaret Tapang, PDDM, entered the congregation in 1970 and made her religious profession on December 8, 1984. She has a doctoral degree in Liturgy from the Pontifical Liturgical Institute in Rome. She now lives in Fresno, CA, where she prepares the weekly pastoral tools, “Lectio Divina” and “Eucharistic Adoration Guide.” These can be accessed through the PDDM website: www.pddm.us. She is a recipient of the Pope’s award: Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice.
Photos: Divine Master - www.pddm.us; family - Sr. Mary Emmanuel Alves, FSP