2021 – New life at the Generalate

2021 - New life at the Generalate

Happy New Year to all. As you probably know it already, the end of 2020 means as well the end of a spiritual – but not only – friendship between the Missionaries of Africa in the Generalate and the Sisters of the Work, for not less than 55 years. On the 27th December, the present community of the  Generalate, on the behalf of all the generations of White Fathers who worked in, studied  in or passed through the Generalate during the last half century, bid them farewell during a festive meal. Here are the discourses given both by the Superior general, Father Stan Lubungo, and by Sister Christine Felder, FSO.

Farewell to the Sisters of Piccola Casa

Stanley Lubungo, M.Afr.

Dear Sisters

It feels rather sad to have to stand here today to bid you farewell, especially in the particular context of Covid-19. But it is an honour for me to do it in the name of generations of Missionaries of Africa who have lived and passed at our Generalate in the past fifty five years! You have been an inspirational presence, I think I can take the risk of saying, to all of us. You are part of the history of our house and it is difficult to think that in a few weeks you will no longer be at the Piccola Casa. That presence will be immensely missed.

Today we thank God for the marvels he has done for us and for the relations that have grown between our two Spiritual families. I have already had the opportunity to say that your presence at our Generalate has been, for many Missionaries of Africa and for our many visitors, a real testimony of service done with a love and joy deeply rooted in faith and motivated by Gospel values. We have always, through your prayers and the countless reminders of spiritual quotes from our Founder Cardinal Lavigerie and very discreetly from Mother Julia, felt your support in the mission entrusted to our Society.

Dear Sisters, we will miss you at the Generalate, remember us always in your prayers, as we will also pray for you. It is my hope that we will continue to nurture the brotherhood that we have developed in the past years so that together we can continue being witnesses of those values that have made it possible to work together for so many years. You will always be welcome to the Generalate.

Sr. Christine Felder FSO

Dear Fr. Stan, dear Fathers, dear Brother Anthony!

Mother Margret asked me to convey her regards to all of you on this special occasion. Unfortunately, she can’t be here but had the possibility to greet some of you a month ago, when she spent some time with us in Rome.

On different occasions we had the possibility to remember our history and our collaboration of 55 years together with your Society. So, I decided not to do so today, although our hearts are full of memories and this talk would go on if we would try to share all the significant moments in the past here today.

Let me share just one particular event with you. From 1975 till 1979 our Sisters worked at the Benedictine Monastery of S. Paolo fuori le Mura. Mother Julia loved that place, as our patron Saint, St. Paul, is buried there.  She spent a lot of time in St. Paul’s and received inner insights. One would think that she would hold on to that mission at any cost because of the significance of the place for our Charism. But seeing the various developments she decided to end that service. When she and the Sisters left St. Pauls, she said: Who does not weep now, has never lived here.

We see how much Mother Julia loved that place and leaving it was hard on her. But a certain inner freedom helped her to move forward in order to fulfil the proper mission, as she could understand it in that particular moment. I think also your founder, Card. Lavigerie, had this inner freedom to open new houses, to accept new missions but at the same time to close houses, to leave the mission to others … to move forward! Duc in altum.

Well, what can we say today, after 55 years of presence, after 55 years of blessings, after 55 years of service: “Who does not weep now, has never lived here.” Departure is hard, when you loved a place, and we did!  when you invested your energy in a mission, and we did, and when friendship and benevolence united you with a lot of people, which was our case with you Fathers! But with the inner freedom of our founders, we move on happily and take with us a heart full of gratitude, happy memories and many enriching experiences for the future.

Fr. Stan, as Superior General, please, accept our gratitude towards the whole Society as well as our thanks for your personal friendship and support. We thank the General Council and Fr. Guy Theunis for making easy – as much as possible – the transition and the moving out of the Piccola Casa.

And I can’t help but say a word in Italian, a word of thanks to Father Italo, our point of reference, our ally in the little battles of daily life, the missionary who was always there for us, who despite all the hardships, knew how to defuse some tensions with his humour. Fr Italo, we are leaving together, we wish you all the best for your future.

I would like to conclude with a word of Mother Julia which could be fitting for both of us: for you remaining here, but also being put in front of a new situation at the Casa Generalizia, as for us, leaving Via Aurelia and moving on to new challenges:

“Here, now and today:

    • let us be pioneers and trailblazers
    • serving one another according to God’s guidance,
    • ready to take on new tasks,
    • accept,
    • pass on,
    • commit,
    • let go
    • and leave behind.”

May HIS kingdom come and may the Lord bless our two Communities. Thank you.

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