January 29, 2018

Papal Visit in Chile – Day of the “Dilexit Ecclesiam”

Sr. M. Jimena Alliende, Chile

From January 15-18, 2018, Pope Francis visited Chile. For the most important Eucharistic celebration at a large park in Santiago, the Sisters of Mary were responsible for the sacristy, where 14 bishops and numerous priests and deacons who accompanied the Holy Father prepared for the holy Mass. The sisters prepared the place and brought the picture of the Mother Thrice Admirable and Queen of Schoenstatt into the sacristy – a large tent. The Sisters of Mary also participated in the choir that sang when Pope Francis met with the persons belonging to the state of consecrated life in the cathedral of Santiago on January 16, 2018. The choir consisted of priests, members of various orders, and members of communities of consecrated life.

A witness statement by Sister M. Beatriz, Chile:

A few months ago, our community was asked if we could help in the sacristy for the holy Mass which would take place in the O’Higgens Park in Santiago during the visit of the pope.

During the days before the holy Mass, we nine sisters received training at O’Higgens Park in order to become acquainted with the place, and above all, so that we could get to work in the various realms of activity for which we would be responsible. It was a wonderful experience: Each one was ready to help there where she was needed. This ranged from flower arrangements, to ironing, to cleaning up, all the way to taking care that the guards, organizers, priests, and seminarians, would receive a glass of juice and something to eat.

For me, these days were a great experience of Church. It was a tremendous gift for me to be able to contribute so concretely in the name of our sisters’ family. I am filled with deep gratitude and joy that I was able to see a lively, happy, hope-giving Church so full of life and enthusiasm. Many lay people also worked untiringly during the visit of the Holy Father. There were many who placed their professional abilities and qualifications at the service of the Church. For example, among the security people who accompanied us, we met people with great openness for religious things. One of these men said that because of the atmosphere into which they were drawn here, he experienced a new calling from God to come closer to the Church. Others simply came and told of their families and that this service was not just a job for them but also an honor.

It was a great gift from God that we could greet the Holy Father when he arrived in the sacristy on the day of the holy Mass in O’Higgens Park. Naturally, all of us who worked in this area hoped this would happen, and then he came on his own to us and greeted each individual. We had all carried this wish in our heart, but we didn’t know if it would come true. When the Holy Father greeted us, he said, “Many thanks for all your service to the Church.” Thus we experienced a great moment of joy and we felt recognized and very blessed.