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Ubuntu

L.sr Magdeleine used to say to us, “How can we know each other and love each other if we don’t live together?”

Perhaps this phrase contains the roots of the dream that the Little Sisters nurtured over time, in trying to imagine a new means of formation before final vows.

We responded to this invitation and left our corner of the globe in order to all meet together Tre Fontane, our General House in Rome. Nineteen little sisters from twelve different nationalities that were given the name “the common (tree) trunk”. You can well imagine that the discovery of what we had in common took some time!

We have been living together for ten months and now that we are on the point of going our separate ways, we realize that even though we never left this place, we in fact never stopped journeying.

Considering the name with which we were baptized, we liked to measure and count the number of rings that made us up as a trunk, and taste the promise contained in that name. We often used theatre to review our life together. It helped us to smile and reflect on our experiences and emotions. So when it came time to putting things down in writing and since our trunk has now grown a bit, we imagined ourselves jumping from one ring to another…going from the bark to the core of that “life together” which we discovered circulating among us.

A bark called displacement.

Try to imagine us at the very beginning of our time together, around the dinner table for the very first time. A plethora of emotions in our heart left us speechless! We had so many questions! With each one deprived of language, familiar food, and bothered by such a drastically different climate—how were we going to get along?! At first we didn’t have words to describe why life together was so challenging. Thanks to our formation sessions, we discovered how much these challenges touch our sensitive zones. It demanded a lot from us, but accompanied by Scripture, we emerged with some new “tools”: patience, creativity, awareness, and tact.

Try to imagine us at the very beginning of our time together, around the dinner table for the very first time. A plethora of emotions in our heart left us speechless! We had so many questions! With each one deprived of language, familiar food, and bothered by such a drastically different climate—how were we going to get along?! At first we didn’t have words to describe why life together was so challenging. Thanks to our formation sessions, we discovered how much these challenges touch our sensitive zones. It demanded a lot from us, but accompanied by Scripture, we emerged with some new “tools”: patience, creativity, awareness, and tact.

Once we had attained the minimum needed to communicate, we realized that it wasn’t enough…through a game where we wore different kind of glasses, we realized that each one reads reality through a filter. Becoming aware of it allowed us to discover the wealth behind different ways of looking at things. We could sense the wisdom hidden in an ancient Bantu (family of African languages) expression: “I am because you are.” It’s one of the ways of translating the word “Ubuntu”: a word that protects individuality, invites corresponsibility, being oneself in truth and daring to trust.

The challenge of becoming « one »


Daily life gave us many opportunities for courageously persevering through conflicts, discovering our gifts and offering them so that they bear fruit.  To work, celebrate, share and reflect together allowed us to discover that becoming a single body means more than the sum of our differences.  It is to become a new creation, witnessing to the overflowing life that is the work of the Spirit.

Several times, the challenge of “forming a body” demanded that we face our weaknesses squarely and make room for the question: can they become a source of grace? Yes! We became witnesses to this thanks to the way of love that opened up before us and within us.

Life in Tre Fontane allowed us to come into closer contact with the Fraternity’s history. It gave us a greater sense of belonging to the Fraternity of the Little Sisters and to the wider body of the universal Church, something that was so dear to little sister Magdeleine.

Sessions were a space where we could speak freely. The speakers helped us through their competence and availability to enter into a dynamic of listening and mutual respect. The atmosphere of trust which gradually built up among us allowed us to share our “Passions” and our “Resurrections”, gifts that wove deep sisterly bonds among us.

Growing also means returning to the journey

The opportunity to take a bit of distance from the complex and demanding realities in which we are generally immersed allowed us to rediscover the importance of taking care of our contemplative and community life. In looking at our world which is oppressed by pandemics, natural catastrophes and endless wars, we feel ourselves invited to carry these sufferings in a creative way, to welcome them as beatitudes for today. It’s difficult to believe…and yet Jesus reminds us that this can be enough for fulness of life.

Brother Charles’ life enlightens us: our mission is nothing other than to remain in God. And in this way “our life will bear its fruit in due season.”

It’s from the core of our common trunk that each one wings her way to a different corner of the world…still far away but now much closer!

The little sisters of the first Common Trunk