On Monday, April 28, we began a series of celebrations for the bicentenary of Father Marie’s birth: a round table discussion at Ratisbonne, in which Elio, Olivier Rota, a historian who has already written a lot about Sion, and Emmanuelle Main, a friend of Sion who is also a historian, took part.
Then it was May1, the birthday: At Ecce Homo, a Eucharist was celebrated in the evening over which Fr. Donizetti presided and during which Sr. Oonah gave the homily; in it she skillfully combined St. Joseph, the workman, and the living memory of Father Marie. During the meal that followed, the Chemin Neuf community had prepared a surprise: a power point on Father Marie with the history of the three houses, Ecce Homo, Ein Karem, Ratisbonne. They had interviewed Fakhri, (who worked for long years in Ecce Homo) the evening before as well as Jeannette, one of the oldest among the employees.
On Saturday, May 3, upon the initiative of the Salesians, we were invited to a colloquium on Alphonse Ratisbonne at Ratisbonne, with the same speakers as on April 28; Tiago was the moderator, and Oonah and Maureen also spoke. We returned to this place that is so marked by memories and by persons. Two large pictures of Alphonse and Theodore welcomed us, and the walls were decorated with photographs of the past from the time of the technical school. This gesture on the part of the Salesians touched us very much.
On May 6, the 130th anniversary of Father Marie’s death, we began the day with a prayer at the cemeteryin Ein Karem, prepared by the novitiate. In the evening, we celebrated a big feast in honor of our brother Tiago’s perpetual vows. Fr. Donizetti presided over the Eucharistic celebration. There was a choir and instruments, made up to a large extent by the Salesians and the Hebrew-speaking community, of which Tiago is one of the main liturgical animators. This beautiful, profound, joyful celebration was followed by a buffet supper prepared by our cook Elias.
On May 7 we buried our sister Ibolya’s ashes. We had delayed this ceremony because of the construction work being done in the novitiate which made access to the cemetery difficult, but this delay was providential, as all the sisters taking part in the finance meeting were there, in particular Michaela and Brenda. Several members of Ibolya’s family were present. It was a moving ceremony during which her great-niece and Maureena spoke of Ibolya’s beautiful personality; they emphasized above all her extreme generosity and availability for everyone, especially the people who are most destitute.
The sisters taking part in the finance meeting were present for most of these events, thus representing the whole Congregation. We were happy to welcome them and to contribute to the good progress of their work through our daily service.
Sr. Anne Catherine Avril NDS