Over the weekend there was a flurry of beatifying activity in the Catholic Church. Here in the Americas, all eyes were on San Salvador, where Oscar Romero, Bishop and Martyr, was raised to the honors of the altar. Meanwhile, in Kenya, an Italian missionary sister was beatified. The ceremony took place in Sister Jacqueline Jean-Marie's hometown (while Sister Jacqueline herself was preparing to transfer from my hometown of New Orleans, where she was assigned upon making her first vows two years ago, to my second hometown of Chicago). Sister Jackie (we still call her that sometimes; old habits are hard to break!) wrote in our community newsletter that her Mom and Dad were able to attend one part of the beatification.
Here's the story, in Sister Jacqueline's own words:
What are the odds of a beatification happening in your own home town?
Today, we had the first beatification ever in Africa that took place in my home town of Nyeri, Kenya. Blessed Irene Stefani, a Consolata sister from Anfo (Brescia), Italy, was missioned to Kenya where she worked for almost 15 years bring God's love particularly to those who were ill and suffering. Here is an excerpt from Sr Irene Stefani website:
"With unconditional love she gave herself out in the pastoral activities of the Mission: Taught in school, Catechism in the parish, visited the villages. She would run to help the sick, the dying and anyone who was in need of her help. She would never remain indifferent to the needs of the people. She would literally run and kneel at the bed-side of the sick, always with gentleness, respect and maternal care. The people nicknamed her Nyaatha [pronounced nyuh-th-uh]: “Mother all mercy and love”. To date she is still remembered like that and with other similar expressions, like: “Good mother who loves everyone”, “Secretary of the poor”, “Angel of charity”. The desire to
As I reflect on Sr. Irene's life and mission, I feel blessed that as Paulines, we too have been loved, chosen and sent bring God's light and love to so many around our world today. What a gift! We may never know the difference (however small) our words and actions make in someone's life. Thanks to Sr. Irene's selfless gift of her life, my life as well as many in my home town, country and the world have been renewed by God's love and grace. So, ever onward!