My name is Aurora Lopez Baltazar

It gives me great pleasure to share some of our experiences, dreams sadnesses and joys with you in a spirit of friendship.

13 years ago  two “angels ” came to our community:  Sister Clare Dawson and Fr Joe Shields.

It was as if we had been born anew and our lives changed completely. They helped us to see that we had a special gift, that we could change our way of life, that we could say NO to violence and YES to Life.

At first I didn’t respond to anything that was said. I felt like a dried-up tree, angry with life and with others.

But Clarita whom I love and respect had great patience with me.  The unconditional love that she and the other Sisters of the Cross and Passion are able to give helped us to find Hope .We were able to recognize our own gifts of leadership.  Many of us who had not had the opportunity to finish our primary or   secondary education did so.  Having completed our basic education, we were able to improve our own lives and then finish courses which helped us personally and professionally as well as helping the community.

The Sisters of the Cross and Passion put Life into our lives. Before we met them our lives were like the desert where we live. We had done nothing to improve our situation. There was a lot of violence against children and against women. Now I am proud to belong to one of the groups of women leaders in our community. I tell Clarita, ” You are the water, the air, the earth which I need, which the women and children need ”

Thanks to the encouragement and support we receive, we are  now like trees with branches, green leaves and strong roots.

In our area we now have a centre for babies and toddlers, children and adolescents. Many were suffering from anemia or malnutrition when they came to the centre and now they are healthy and well nourished    because they get a well- balanced meal and 2 snacks every day.  The children who go to school get help with their homework. There are after- school courses in crafts, dancing and English. Parents receive education on nutrition and childcare as well as enjoying aerobics classes.

I thank God for bringing the Sisters of the Cross and Passion into our lives because we still have a great deal to do together.

Aurora is a member of the Passionist Family in the parish of Nuestra Señors de la Paz in VIlla el Salvador,  Lima, Peru

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Sr. Angélica on the Feast of the Presentation of Mary

Dear Sisters and Associates,

We are now finishing our work together as a team and, as always, we want to share with you our conversations, as well as our meetings and celebrations during these days.

With the Gospel of Saint Luke, we shared the readings of Bartimaeus, the blind man; Zaccheus; the parable of the talents; and Jesus weeping over Jerusalem. We felt very identified with the blind man, and together we asked the Lord for light to see better. As we reflected on the parable of the talents we recognized that as a Congregation, many times we have hidden our talents and did not allow them to produce fruit. Today we are asking ourselves what we need to do to change this situation. Like Zaccheus, we want to see Jesus and we ask Him to transform us by his presence and closeness.

  1. What we shared: As we began our time together each one of us shared what had been going on in our lives and areas during the past few months as this is part of the richness of our meeting. Anne told us about the Passionist Family annual assembly in Chile. Elissa shared the work of the new team. Rosaleen has been to Bosnia for the opening of the house beside the children´s hospice where the parents can stay while their children are being treated. Part of Angélica´s sharing was about the work that some of the sisters are doing with the street people, and the joy they experience when they see how some are reintegrated into the community. Moya explained to us how, since the Provincial Chapter the new Priority Groups have been formed.
  2. Visit to Peru: Anne and Angélica shared their visit to the sisters in Peru during the month of September. The team has decided that Anne, Elissa and Angélica will visit there in March 2012. The object of these meetings is to accompany this congregational process. The sisters there will receive a separate letter with the details of our visit.
  3. Province of Our Lady of Dolors (USA): During the morning of Wednesday we had a meeting with the provincial team. The conversation was built around the objectives that were put forward at their last chapter. They are: new membership, associates, the retreat house of Our Lady of Calvary. They are working on each one of these areas, calling together both the sisters and the associates, forming teams and organizing different activities. They shared with us some concerns as well as many hopes. We greatly appreciate the atmosphere of confidence and respect that was present at all times. We want to congratulate them on the enthusiasm with which they have set about working as a team.
  4. Passionist International: With the intention of deepening our commitment to this important work at the United Nations, we met with Fr. Kevin Dance, Joanne Fahey and Mary Ann Strain. The reflection helped us to understand better the validity of Passionists International as well as its limitations.

Our next team meeting: The next meeting of the CLT will take place in Santiago, Chile between the 26th. And 29th. February 2012. During those days we will be meeting with the PLT and we will also share dinner with all the sisters of the Province.

We want to take this opportunity to thank sisters Eileen and Anna Marie for their wonderful hospitality and for giving us the chance to share with their associates and board of trustees, with whom we celebrated the Eucharist and enjoyed a lovely meal.

We would like to remind you that on the 10th. December Lebanang of Botswana will make her First Profession. With our prayers we will unite ourselves with the sisters of Botswana as we celebrate and welcome a new sister to our congregation.

On the 21st. November may we be united and, as we renew our consecration, let us commit ourselves to continue to create bonds between us, leaving behind old divisions, and asking the Lord to teach us to be sisters.

“May the Passion of Jesus and the sorrows of Mary be ever in our hearts”

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Passionist International Volunteer Project Launched!

Invited Guests

Core Team

Honorary Passionists

The Passionist International Volunteer Project was launched on Friday 29th July  at the Provincial Assembly of St. Paul’s Province.  A number of prominent people from the Diocese of Leeds were invited including Bishop Arthur Roche who unfortunately was unable to be with us as he had to attend a funeral but he wanted us to know that the project had his full support.  Attached is a photo of the invited which included Professor Freda Bridge, Principal of Leeds Trinity University College, Mgr. John Wilson – Episcopal Vicar for Evangelisation, Mgr. Paul Grogan, Chaplain of L.T.U.C.,  Miss Anna Cowell – Diocesan Youth Co-ordinator. Miss Joanna Jackson a former Sister and Chaplain of St. Joseph’s College and 2 members of the Diocesan Peru Commission.

After a brief introduction from Anne explaining where the idea came from, Elaine and Sue described the project with using an excellent PowerPoint presentation which will be made available to those who wish to promote the venture.

Sue, Elaine and Joanna were made Honorary Passionist Associates by Sister Francis Cullen and the Briery Community presented each of them with a bouquet of flowers.

The Chapter formally agreed to promote the project and a number of Sisters gave generous donations.


Visit the website of the Passionist International Volunteer Project

Passionist Sister Clare Dawson Receives Honorary Degree from Regis College

Sister Clare Dawson, compassionate leader, Regis College welcomes you to this, our eighty-first Commencement.

You were born in County Clare, Ireland, and grew up in Kilrush on the estuary of the river Shannon, and you have dedicated the core energy of your one and only human life to people throughout the world.

You were young when you entered the Congregation of the Cross and the Passion and studied in England to become a teacher, starting out by teaching French, and then taking on a new mission to immigrants in Sweden. You mastered Swedish and spent nearly twenty years in this ministry before you visited Peru in 1998 and it captivated your mind, heart, strength and soul. Meanwhile, you had also mastered Spanish, and in 1999 you returned to Villa EI Salvador to begin another lifetime, another mission of selfless giving, compassion, and generosity to women, children, families, and the elderly. For a dozen years you have striven to establish programs to empower the local community and improve the quality of life. You implemented microeconomics before the term was printed on the theorist’s page. The comprehensive array of workshops you offer women, leading them to accomplishments in dress making, computer literacy, aerobics, and other marketable skills has established an independence and self-confidence that result directly in helping to break the cycle of poverty. Your care has enabled the: children to thrive as educational programs expand their horizons, dreams and hopes. You motivated the first organization of the Church in the 9th sector of Villa EI Salvador by holding catechismo for the people, sometimes in their own homes, and starting groups of parishioners, women’s groups, and project teams.

You brought in educated young people from Lima to provide legal help to the poor.

For six years, you have brought Regis student volunteers to a realization of faith and community as you brought in a ray of hope for all the people of the 9th and 7th sectors of Villa EI Salvador. You became the “go to” person in your region of South America, whether coordinating medical care to reach a remote spot in the Andes or organizing the logistics to get an isolated group of people help. You became a bridge as well, welcoming members of all faiths and from different parts of the world to work toward the development of your neighborhood and your people. Your neighborhood is large, Sister Clare, and you have heard the cry of the poor in the name of Christ, inspiring all o f us with a true image of justice, peace and love.

Sister Clare, for your exemplary service to humankind, Regis College is pleased to bestow on you the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.

Solidarity with Fr. Mario Bartolini, CP

Very Rev. Fr. Mario Bartolini, C.P.,
Barranquita,
Perú.

Dear Father Mario,

We’re sending you this letter from Rome where we’re in the midst of our Passionist General Synod at our General House of Saints John and Paul. The Synod is being attended by our Superior General and his Council and all the Provincial and Vice-Provincial Superiors and Regional Vicars who reside in some 60 different countries around the world, amongst them Perú.

At the end of the first day’s session, during which we dealt with the theme of Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation, we would like to send you our brotherly greetings and encourage you to continue with your mission and maintain your peace of mind and serenity in the midst of all that is happening to you. We have been following events from some time back and we have always appreciated the work you did together with Father Pio Zarrabe Garro, C.P., now passed away, in defense of the peasants’ land in the Amazon region of Perú, where you are serving loyally as a parish priest.

We are fully aware of the legal problems you are involved in as a consequence of your efforts in defense of small landowners in Barranquita where you minister. Small parcels of land which are nevertheless are all that the people of your flock possess and which they work in order to feed and clothe their families, including their aged parents.

It is our fervent hope that the courts recognize that your being close to the people is a work of justice, as you defend from powerful multinational interests the rights of those peasants to possess their own land.

Our prayers will be with you that the legal process you are involved in may be resolved in your favor with an absolution from those unfounded accusations of sedition, so that you may continue to provide the people of Barranquita and other members of the faithful in the surrounding Amazon region with spiritual and human guidance.

We pray that those responsible for Peruvian justice appreciate all you do in defense of the weak and their right to care for the land they have been cultivating in order to maintain their families.

May Mary, the Mother of Jesus and our Mother too, protect you, and may St. Paul of the Cross, our holy Founder and Father, bless and protect you.

Fraternally,
P. Ottaviano D’Egidio

General Superior cp.

and the synodal’s of the following countries:

Angola, Argentina, Australia, België, Bolivia, Botswana, Brasil, Bulgaria, Canada, Cechy, Chile, Colombia, Congo (R. Dem.), Cuba, Dominicana, Rep.; Deutschland, Ecuador, El Salvador, England, España, France, Guatemala, Holland, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italia, Jamaica, W.I., Japan, Kenya, México, Moçambique, Nederland, Nigeria, Österreich, Panamá, Papua N. Guinea, Perú, Philippines, Polska, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Scotland, South Africa, South Korea, Sverige, Tanzania, Ukraina, United Kingdom, Uruguay, U.S.A., Venezuela, Wales.

TAKE ACTION! Sign the Passionist Solidarity Petition

Developing Community in Lima

Local women rest on a hill above their home

The district of Villa el Salvador is a huge shanty town on the outskirts of Lima Peru, built on the sand dunes, 25 kilometres to the south of the city of Lima, Peru. The district was founded in1971 and has a long history of struggle and organization, working together to get basic necessities such as electricity, water, sewage and roads. Today the district has a population of almost half a million people. Although these first settlements are now well established, the areas covered by the parish, the 7th, 9th and 10th sectors, are much later developments, and have the added difficulty of being situated on the sand hills where living conditions are very basic and in many places they still do not have water or sewage. The Community Centre is situated at the top of the 7th sector, and also serves the 9th and 10th sectors, with a population of 29,492 most of whom live in conditions of extreme poverty.

The economic situation of the families of the area causes constant conflict and violence in the home, serious health and educational problems. There is little or no employment available within the area. The majority of the women have little formal education, are unskilled, their self esteem is very low, and many suffer from depression as they cannot find work that will help them to contribute to the upkeep of the family. 24.2% of the population are single or abandoned mothers most of whom have small children. 12.8% of young people do not attend school because they have to work. Those who do, sometimes perform badly at school because there is no money to buy schoolbooks, and they have very little incentive to continue to study. They have little hope of finding work and even less of continuing their studies once they finish school at 16. Delinquency is on the increase, violence and gang warfare have become part of the local scene and drugs and related crimes have also increased.

The Community Centre was built in 1999 thanks to a g rant from Irish Aid. The Centre is one of the services that our Parish, Nuestra Senora de la Paz offers to the local community. Other services include a Legal Aid Centre, a Medical Centre and Programme for the Elderly. Originally we just had a small library that has grown over the years and we tried to respond to the needs of the young people who use the library by providing workshops including music and dance.

Llamkaq Warmi with Sister Clare

It gradually became evident that we needed to include training opportunities for women that would give them the possibility of learning new skills, discovering their leadership qualities and offering them the space to put them into practice. Today the Community Centre has a staff of 18 people including teachers and administrative staff. Manuel Canterac is the Director of the Educational and Training

Programmes. And Lily Garcia is Coordinator of the Library. Three young librarians, the secretary and administrative staff are all students who, thanks to this work, can cover the costs of their studies. They study in the mornings and work in the Centre in the afternoons. The Centre functions from 3.00pm to 10.00pm, Monday to Friday.

The overall objective of the Centre is “To empower the local community in order to improve the quality of life”. The Centre offers a series of training workshops for women which enables them to acquire marketable skills that give them a better chance of finding work or of setting up small workshops in their own homes. In this way they are able to contribute to the upkeep of their families and so improve the quality of life for the family group. Classes and courses for women include dressmaking; hairdressing, computer skills, arts and crafts, and aerobics. Each of the workshops has an average of 20 students and courses run from April to December. The Centre constantly studies the commercial market, demands and business possibilities in the area and orientates the students so that they can respond to the needs of the local community. It also provide workshops on Leadership, how to set up small businesses and marketing, as well as human relations, conflict management and recently we have introduced a few workshops on Care of the Earth.

The Centre also provides Library and Internet service for 300 primary, secondary and some third level students. Our first donation of a box of 59 books has grown to over 4,000. Librarians organize learning groups to encourage reading and investigation. A teacher runs a school support group for children who have learning difficulties. In this way the students improve their participation in school and have a better chance of finishing with a worthwhile certificate that will help them to find work.

Video forums for young people are also organised on the subjects of Drugs, Aids and Human Relations. The Centre also provides opportunities for young people, which include Folklore, Dance, Theatre, Guitar and Andean Music as well as Computer skills, and Karate. The young people, conscious of the dangers that abound in our area, participate actively in these activities, which keep them off the streets, and away from the drug scene.

Taytaco elderly enjoying a dance

The programme for the elderly, which was begun by Sister Patricia Denny and is known as the ‘Taytacos” is now an integral part of the Community Centre. Two afternoons a week a group of 70-80 elderly men and women are brought to the Centre where a dedicated group of volunteers prepares a hot meal for them, and provides simple activities, including literacy programmes, arts and crafts, dance (which they love), music, and aerobics. They also have medical attention and physiotherapy and enjoy the company of one another.

Sister Maeve O’Driscoll C.P.

In this way the Community Centre tries to improve the quality of life for the local community and although there is still a long way to go we feel that in some way we have contributed to making life more bearable and enjoyable for a small portion of those who live in our area.

- Sister Maeve O’Driscoll C.P.

I Can Do all Things in Him Who Comforts Me

Hermana Maria Alvarado, C.P.

Some people have asked me, why be a Passionist? And my answer has always been and continues to be: because I discovered a God who is life, and who invites me to journey with him, from my reality as a woman, assuming my weaknesses and my strengths to be capable of getting closer to others. Because here I found HOPE, in spite of everything and so I continue and wish to continue on this journey because I feel that there is something else, that another world is possible, both for my congregation and for my people. For this reason I am responsible for this small portion of earth which God has given me… my life and my daily task is to make it fertile.  This process has not been easy… but each day I realize that it is worthwhile, when I see signs of resurrection in every day things and realize that everything makes sense, in spite of the Cross.

And it was this conviction that accompanied me on the 26th of April this year when I made my Final Vows in the Chapel of Señor de los Milagros in the 6° Sector of Villa el Salvador. I truthfully never expected so many expressions of affection, but above all… I felt as though it were a great dream that had come true. The most important moment of the ceremony was when I pronounced the words “I consecrate my life to the God of life, for ever, at the service of my sisters and my people” because as I did so I knew that I was not just consecrating myself and my call to life from my reality as a woman but I was also called to give life, in availability, solidarity, dialogue –listening, but I was choosing LIFE, my own personal history and from there was giving my answer.

Maria lives and works in Pachacutec

Now that the emotion of that day has passed and is part of my daily life, I believe that this is the moment when the Lord invites me to answer “Yes”, so that my life be recreated, letting myself be transformed because the journey to becoming “an Easter woman  in the Passion of the world” is not an easy one, but I feel called each day to allow myself to be challenged by this reality, so that my consecration does not lose its vitality and will always look for ways of serving creatively.

I want to take this opportunity of thanking all those who helped me and accompanied me in this process and to whom I feel a great sense of gratitude. At the same time I want to thank each of the sisters who accompanied me in one way or another on this very special day on which I began another stage on my journey. I ask each of you to continue to pray for me that I will be faithful to my consecration in my daily life.

Here I am… send me…

- Sister María Alvarado CP.

Death of former Congregational Leader – Sister Patricia Denny, CP

Your prayers are asked for the repose of the soul of:

Sister Patricia Denny
Date of Birth: 23rd April 1928
Date of Death: 25th June 2010
Date of profession (final):8th May 1952
Place of Death: Villa Pacis, Belfast, Ireland

May she rest in peace.

Our present Congregational Leader, Sister Maria Angelica Algorta, C.P. writes of Sister Patricia:

. . . . I received the sad news of Sister Patricia Denny’s death. She . . . , prepared herself for this role of leadership and animation by her Ministry with the poor and excluded in Villa El Salvador, Peru. Something that characterized her, was her spirit of compassion and her wish to be near the very poor and vulnerable. Like Mary at the foot of the Cross, she remained in Peru as long as her health allowed her. It is with her that we celebrate her return to God’s dwelling, where she is already enjoying eternal peace.

Religious Profession of Sister María Alvarado, C.P. in Peru

Dear Sisters, Associates and members of the Passionist Family,
Through these lines I would like to share with you two important events which brought us together during the last few days.

The first one took place in Peru, María Alvarado’s Profession, an event which gave joy to us all but especially the sisters of Saint Gabriel’s Province as they were the ones who received her in the name of the Congregation and the Church.

The celebration took place in the chapel of the 6th. Sector of Villa El Salvador on Sunday the 26th. April.   Fr. Eddy Vásquez, C.P. was the chief celebrant and several priests from the area concelebrated with him, all friends of the community.  It  ended with a lovely lunch prepared and served by the people of the local community.  The meal was a typical dish from Ica, María´s native town.   There were neighbours from the 6th and 7th sectors of Villa El Salvador as well as from Pachacutec, where María lives and works.   I was personally delighted with the participation of her parents, brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews, and with the unconditional support they offer María and her options.

The second event was the Assembly of the Community of María Guadalupe.   Representing the C.L.T. were Elissa Rinere and Anne Culliton.   We were accompanied by Mercedes García Bachman, a bible scholar from the Lutheran United Church, and Fr. Aníbal Filippini.

We reflected on some texts from the Bible which refer to women and their reality in a patriarchal society and the strategies that must be used in order to survive and carry forward their projects.   The reflection on “The five wounds of the Church” allowed the sisters to ask themselves what it means to be an alternative community in our society and within this Church.   This was the parting shot to define their Vision for the Future for the next five years.

This is a new moment in our history as Passionists.
In which, urged on by our Congregational option (of internationality and interdependence), we want to be attentive to living out the proposal of JPIC,  as a ‘theological locus´ where the future of life is to be found.
This theological locus poses the urgency of change; we cannot stand on the edge;
Jesus invites us to “sail out into the deep and let down the nets”.
This means:
Going out to the new urban spaces.
Deepening our option From the poor.
That our feminine presence may be a revitalizing contribution for the Church.

On the last day of the Assembly Cecilia Duarte, Gladys Rojas and María del Carmen Lazarte were named members of the Animation Team.   We then ended with a delicious barbecue in the community at Rincón de Milberg, along with some members of the Passionist Family.

Sisters and brothers, we are in the midst of the Paschal Season but we are already approaching the Feast of Pentecost.   You are invited to turn your thoughts back to the words spoken by the angel to Mary at the Annunciation.   Mary is part of that portion of humanity which, in spite of the historic situations of marginalization, she trusts, waits and is open to the will of God.    Let us return our minds to Mary and listen once again to the invitation that He makes us through the angel:

“The Holy Spirit will come down on you (over each one of you) and the power of the most high will overshadow you.”

In this way we can sing the glories of the Lord, because He has allowed great things to be done in us.

May the Passion of Jesus and the sorrows of Mary be always in our hearts”.

Angélica

If you would like to learn more about Pachacutec, Peru where María lives and works, visit: http://www.passionistsisters.org/Pachacutec.html