“When we believe in Jesus Christ and strive…to imitate him…He grants to us the grace of being destroyed of every deformity…then Jesus enters into us and continues his life within us.” St. Vincent Pallotti [OOCC,III,P.37]
God’s call for each of us is very special. If we think how wonderfully God works it is marvellous. Reflecting on these 6 words – ‘let me go where God calls’ – I realise that this is exactly what happened to me. Having been here, in South Africa, for 14 months I want to share my growth – in joy, hope, courage and self-confidence.
Coming from another country one wonders how it will be ? New culture… tradition… people? Also mixed feelings…anxiety…new challenges? I recalled: “Be not be afraid, I go before you always“.
It wasn’t so difficult to get to know the sisters in my community, to cultivate a healthy atmosphere, and to surrender myself totally in the service of others. They accepted me as their own, an international community that was happy to have me. Their support filled me with confidence – confidence to stand up on my own, not to give up but to let go.
Becoming registered and obtaining a Nursing Certificate is a process that takes at least 2 years. Initially I was sad and wondered why so long? But God has His own purpose and I just try to keep positive. I pray for patience and tolerance and try not to let it bother me.
Its lovely to have elderly sisters here amidst the younger ones. Their simplicity, humility, hard work, generosity and selfless service to the people are marvellous. Some are aged, unable to move, but despite that they really try to give. Their small contributions to the community set us a great example, and remind us that everyone has a part in it. In fact right now I am looking after a sister who for 3 months has been dying. She is bedridden and unable to communicate. But I see it as a joy to care for her because she has done many good things during her life in Cape Town.
Some are very humorous. And their gentleness, the way they pray, the experiences they share inspire me. Spending time with them is a real blessing. And gives me a hint of how I will have to be in my old age…patient … gentle ….compassionate. That gives me a fright!
I learn each day about acceptance, openness, how to be more simple and humble…that way I will be ready in my service to others. I pray before the Lord: “Life is a process to learn everyday until our death“. It is He who gives us strength, grace and moreover acceptance.
Many years back we sisters did have our own Vincent Pallotti Hospital, but gradually our numbers reduced. During apartheid there was lots of discrimination between blacks, whites, and coloureds. Although blacks were supposed to be excluded many were admitted. Most of them were not able to pay. They were poor and the hospital started to run out of money. In the end debt was very high, the sisters were not able to manage, there was no money only debt. It was not easy for the sisters to sell their own hospital but there was no other way then. Nevertheless the name remained – Vincent Pallotti Hospital – and even the road signs read that! Sometimes, looking at that building, I say to myself ‘the sisters did their best, to serve the poorest of the poor’.
When I commenced to visit the hospital, the rehabilitation centre and the renal unit, I realised that it made lots of difference to the people. Pallottine sisters were still appearing around the corner, making an effort to visit the sick and the suffering. I started to develop self-confidence. It became a wonderful experience, and people accepted me very lovingly. As well the relatives then waited for me. Not only
Catholics but people of other religions are admitted. Many ask me to pray with them. For the Catholics I carry every day Holy Communion, which makes them very happy. Even though many haven’t been practising their religion their belief, faith, trust and confidence in the Lord makes them receive him every day in their lives.
What I find is that the people are very friendly, very open, and I in turn feel comfortable with them. The sisters presence is very much appreciated, specially in times of need. I realise that this is what I was called to do, this is my apostolate, just as it was for Vincent Pallotti. People appreciate us sharing their joy, their happiness, their loneliness, just giving them a word of HOPE, COURAGE, TRUST AND SELF CONFIDENCE. And a SMILE.
And those opportunities are truly a blessing for me too! I cherish my time here, with a heart full of gratitude. I thank my sisters for their encouragement and support, and for making me feel one of them. Let us not loose HOPE, FAITH AND TRUST IN THE LORD, SURRENDER YOURSELF TOTALLY TO HIM.
Can I conclude with the blessing which Vincent Pallotti prayed for his Society, a blessing which means so much to me every day of my life.
“May God grant us a blessing of wisdom,
a blessing of courage and strength,
a blessing of loving kindness and of goodness!”
And with these words, let me go where God has called me.
Sr. Prescilla Rego sac – Cape Town – SOUTH AFRICA