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Gathering one’s steps

We closed the last fraternity in Mexico, after 70 years of presence in different parts of the country. We lived this moment of completion in a spirit of gratitude for all we experienced that was beautiful, and also of repentance for all we could have done better. Here is our account of our goodbye.

“There is a time and a season for everything under the sun:
A time to be born, and a time to die.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1ff)

Everything in life has its term, its moment of accomplishment. The opening and the closing of a fraternity are equally important, and deserve to be lived with the same “dignity,” with awareness and faith, as both are part of our mission.

That is why we decided to mark this moment with a rite celebrated in Mexico whenever a person dies, a ritual which allows us to “gather up the steps” of a person’s life journey. Before being buried, the coffin is carried to the places where the person lived, inhabited as they are by the person’s soul. This journey of looking back makes it possible to become aware of the deceased’s personal story, and to conclude this cycle of their life in peace, so that they might set out on the next one.

We adapted the rite to our situation, and set off on pilgrimage to the different places where we’d been present at one time or another during the Fraternity’s 70 years’ history in this country. We wanted to go back in our turn over the steps the Fraternity of Mexico had travelled, in thanksgiving and in repentance. For us it was important to go and pray in the different places where we’d had “insertions.” So, we prepared two prayers: one which we said in our chapel, before setting out on pilgrimage, and the other which we said in the places themselves, in each of which we left a flower and a candle.

We travelled through four Mexican States, to thirteen different places of “insertion.” We went to pray in the houses we’d lived in, at the places we’d worked, and in the churches we used to visit at the time. It struck us how, in each place, throughout our whole history, our NORTH STAR had always been Jesus present in the poor, in persons seeking land, homes, jobs. Yes, despite our limitations, we had let ourselves be led by that light. We saw and experienced the changes that had occurred in each place: little houses now painted, sewage ditches covered over and clean, safe modes of transportation set in place.

Little gems awaited us all along the way, precious moments given to us when we weren’t expecting them. This pilgrimage was above all a spiritual experience. We were able to revisit our past experiences, memorialize them, and grow in gratitude. And we also realized how much it helped us be reconciled with the parts of the past that had not always been easy. We stand emptyhanded before the mystery, happy to have made memory of the past, to have celebrated, to have asked forgiveness. We especially treasure what one friend, a Bishop, wrote to us: “Sometimes, from our little perspective, we have the impression our presence and actions have gone no further than Calvary: death and loneliness, a seed fallen into the earth in darkness and silence, awaiting new life. In the presence of the Little Sisters of Jesus in Mexico, Brother Charles’ own experience was lived anew. You have been true heirs of his charism!” May it be so! AMEN. AMEN.

L.Srs. Giuseppina Donata, Maria de Lourdes, Soun Hwa