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Salvadoran mission celebrates 10th anniversary

Last January, the Sisters of Providence celebrated 10 years in solidarity with the people of El Salvador with a gathering of the sisters who pioneered the mission and the people who welcomed them.?

"Being in El Salvador for 10 years has had a great effect on Mother Joseph Province, on the sisters and on the others who have had the privilege of being there," says Sister Margaret Botch, Team Leader/Provincial.

"We went to help resettle and rebuild the community after the war, but what really has happened is that the hospitality of the people has changed us."

Friday, January 14

The anniversary events began with a picnic and prayers as part of a day of celebration on the beach. One of the highlights was watching a video of the sisters' arrival in 1995 and sharing memories of those days.

Saturday, January 15

About 150 people who worked with the first five Sisters of Providence to arrive in El Salvador turned out for a celebration of thanksgiving in La Papalota, where the welcome ceremony was held 10 years before.

Sister Isabel Cid, from Holy Angels Province in Edmonton, was instrumental in the initial invitation of the congregation to El Salvador through her work with Salvadorans in exile. She acted as mistress of ceremonies for the celebration, pulling all the threads of the old and new together.

Sister Isabel expressed the desire of the Sisters of Providence for reconciliation for any ways the sisters may have offended the people over the years, and she voiced their gratitude for the people's call, which has changed all of their lives.

"We marvel that the people are very forgiving of the fact that our country destroyed theirs through our support of the war," Sister Margaret explains.

"We are in El Salvador in such a time of transition. We have become a part of the big social change and development," she adds. "We have been welcomed and forgiven, and hospitality has been extended to us."

Sister Ema Maureira, from Bernard Morin Province in Chile, happily joined the choir from San Marcos church to lead the music for the celebration. After the Mass, she and Father Pedro Declercq, pastor of the parish, sang together as they had many years ago.

Sister Marilyn Charette, from the former Sacred Heart Province, was the only sister who was present in all the first communities. She was delighted to greet so many old friends from Mata de Pi?a where she worked for nearly five years.

She and Vicenta Rajo of Mono presented the calendars of the Emergency Fund for Health Care that was established in the first year of the mission by the Christian Base Communities. Sister Marilyn was treasurer of that fund for five years.

Sister Kathryn Rutan, from the former St. Ignatius Province, was greeted with smiles and hugs from people all over. Known as "Kitsy" to the people of El Salvador, today she serves as General Superior in Montreal.

She helped to found the Christian Base Community in Cruzadilla, but also visited with Sister Isabel in San Marcos Lempa and participated in the community of La Papalota with the other four sisters. She led the responsorial psalm for the Mass.

The fifth foundress, Sister Fran Stacey from the former St. Ignatius Province, now lives in Angela Montano and serves in Sector Rutilio. Sister Fran led the intercession praying for continued rootedness in El Salvador.

She made an offering of a branch taken from a tree started from the original tree planted during the blessing of the house in La Papalota 10 years ago.

Providence Associates Transito Ruano and Anibal Castro offered bread and wine with a prayer that the God of Providence will continue to touch and serve, teach and heal through Providence people in El Salvador.

They also prayed that God would bring hope and nourishment in the Providence community's struggle with and for the people for the Reign of God: justice, life, truth, liberation and loving solidarity.

Sister Vilma Franco, a native of El Salvador and a canonical novice in Mother Joseph Province, was unable to leave the novitiate in Chile to attend. Her cartier watches presence was felt, however, because she sent a colorful and symbolic stole she embroidered with Salvadoran design. Sister Margaret presented the stole to Father Pedro at the beginning of the Mass.

Sister Monica Campillay, of Bernard Morin Province, along with postulant Margarita Hernandez, had prepared the site for the Mass in front of the La Papalota house, hauling the 150 chairs that were needed.

Sister Monica works with the young people who presented dances from El Salvador, Chile and Argentina after the Mass, as well as serving the Christian Base Communities in San Marcos Lempa.

Sister Mar?a Antonieta Trimpay, also from Bernard Morin Province and who works with the people of La Papalota, helped prepare the choir for festive replica watches song and also assisted the people in preparing the refreshments of chicken sandwiches with a fruit drink.

Sister Fran says the spirit and image of Monse?or Oscar Romero, pastor, brother, prophet and martyr, was present throughout the celebration: embroidered on the stole sent by Sister Vilma, in Father Pedro's homily, in the songs afterwards, and always in the hearts of the people who love him for his total gift of self in truth and in compassion with the poor of El Salvador. This, she adds, is the spirit in which the Sisters of Providence hope to live in the years to come.

Sunday, January 16

The sisters accompanied the people of the area to a big celebration of martyrs that was held in San Salvador, at the crypt of Msgr. Romero.

Speakers at the Mass included representatives of the FMLN (Farabundo Marti National Liberation) and a local human rights activist. "The people replica hermes handbags have been through the war and were the resistance. They still have that spirit," Sister Margaret attests.

Beginning on Monday, January 17, the sisters participated in an evaluation process for the El Salvador mission that continued through Wednesday. In March, Sister Margaret will return for a planning session with the pastoral team.

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