Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Day Two - Pastoral Visit to Colombia

Day 2 - January 18, 2017

            What a pleasant difference to awaken to the sound of birds chirping and feeling pleasant cool spring breezes, even as it was still in morning darkness.  We began the day celebrating Holy Mass with the Sisters at 7:00 a.m.  I presided and Fr. Fabio did a fine job of preaching a wonderful daily homily. 
            After breakfast, Fr. Fabio and I had a very good meeting with Mother Consuelo, the General Superior of the Sisters, discussing how this exchange is doing from each of our perspectives, and an opportunity to discuss what she and I both hope for the future, even after the Catholic Extension grant is depleted.
            The midday meal (much more than "lunch") was a mini-feast.  I have decided to try whatever the dish(es) are that the Sisters provide for us, so I have been trying many new things.  Here at the Motherhouse, the Sisters are very self-sufficient, getting fresh milk and cheese from their cows, a variety of delicious fresh vegetables grown here on the grounds, and enjoying some new fruit drinks and a new kind of hot chocolate that is excellent.  All the Sisters take turns cleaning, picking the vegetables, preparing the food, and cleaning up.  Needless to say, the Motherhouse is spic and span; everything is immaculate (no pun intended). 
Bishop Bradley with the Sisters at the Motherhouse

            After the meal, Fr. Fabio and I met with Mother and the entire General Counsel who advise Mother Consuelo on every aspect of the life of the community.  We met for nearly two hours, and had a wonderful discussion about the great blessing the Sisters have been to our Diocese, and how we can work together to make sure that the Sisters who are assigned to our Diocese are helped in every way to safeguard their vocations while they do so much to bring the joy of the Gospel to so many of our people.
            This community, the Misioneras Hermanas del Divino Espiritu, have been and continue to be blessed with many vocations.  Their main purpose is to form "missionaries" to go forth "ad gentes" (to the nations) bringing the joy of the Gospel to many parts of the world.  While they have Sisters in approximately 15 other countries, they only had one "mission" outside South America, that is in Italy.  The establishment of a "mission" in our Diocese of Kalamazoo is only the second time to send Sisters further away than South America, and the first time to send Sisters to the United States.  We are truly blessed. 
            The good news that has resulted from these two important meetings today is that Mother, in the name of the community, and I, in the name of the Diocese, are in full agreement that we want to see this community send Sisters to our Diocese for years to come, even after the Catholic Extension grant is depleted.  We rejoice in this good news, and we will need to be focusing on the ways we need to put in place to make sure that we have the wherewithal to do so.
Mother Consuelo and Bishop Bradley

            In the late afternoon, two of the Sisters joined Fr. Fabio and I in visiting with the parents and family of one of our priests, Fr. Evelio Ramirez (pastor of Holy Angels in Sturgis and St. Joseph in White Pigeon).  Mr./Mrs. Ramirez are beautiful people who have given the world 9 children, including Fr. Evelio.  Most of their family live nearby here in La Ceja, and many of them were present for our visit.  In keeping with traditional rules of hospitality, they fed (over fed) us with delicious foods.  What a wonderful time to spend with them.  We will celebrate a special Mass for Mr/Mrs. Ramirez on Friday evening as they anticipate the celebration of their 60th wedding anniversary in April. 
Bishop Bradley visits Fr. Evelio's parents along with Fr. Fabio. 

            We returned to the Motherhouse in time to pray Vespers with the Sisters, followed by an hour-long time of prayer and praise.  I must say that I was deeply moved by this prayer experience that comes directly from the very essence of the charisms of this community who are devoted to the Presence of the Holy Spirit.  As I said in one of my Tweets for today, praying with these Sisters is truly a "heavenly" experience.  I wish you all could have this same opportunity.  I want you all to know that during that very special time of prayer, I prayed for all of you----all of our Faithful and our priests/deacons/seminarians----and all the special intentions that are so near and dear to your hearts.  I can also assure you that these dear Sisters pray regularly for our Diocese and all the good priests and people here in the Diocese of Kalamazoo.

            Having completed a very long and full day, I entrust all of you, this night and the remainder of this Pastoral visit to the loving intercession of our dear Blessed Mother, whose "Yes" began our salvation.

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