Pope Francis meeting the Theatine Sisters of the Immaculate Conception in the Vatican on June 16, 2018. Pope Francis meeting the Theatine Sisters of the Immaculate Conception in the Vatican on June 16, 2018.  

Pope urges Theatine sisters to witness to the Gospel and fraternal community life

Pope Francis on June 16 met the Theatine Sisters of the Immaculate Conception and urged them to be attentive to the “existential peripheries” and care for community life.

By Robin Gomes

“If you are open to the action of the Spirit, He will guide you to respond creatively to the cry of the poor and of the many who hunger and thirst for God.”  This was one of the exhortations of Pope Francis to 100 Theatine Sisters who met him on Saturday in the Vatican.  The sisters are marking the 4th death centenary of their Italian foundress, Venerable Orsola Benincasa, this year.

Logic of the Gospel

“You find life by giving life, find hope by giving hope, and find your reason for being in the Church and in the world, by loving and living always according to the logic of giving, the logic of the Gospel," the Pope told the nuns whose apostolate include education and training of young people, and recently they took to caring for the sick and the disabled.

Pope Francis particularly urged them to reach out to the “existential peripheries”.  “Together with people in material poverty,” he said, “there are many who have lost the meaning of life, hearts parched and thirsty for good bread and living water, that even without realizing it, are waiting to meet Jesus.” He said Jesus today says them: “Give them something to drink and to eat, that bread that satiates, the water that slakes thirst.”  He urged them to be open to the Holy Spirit who will guide them in this task.

Fraternal community life

Pope Francis also told the Theatine Sisters the world also needs their testimony of fraternal life in community, which he acknowledged is not easy.  There is always something to argue about, to speak badly about – gossip.  But there is a very good cure and medicine for this, which is “biting your tongue”.  “It will swell up, but it will not speak badly.” 

He told them that “banishing criticism, gossip, rivalries, and instead welcoming and giving mutual attention, sharing material goods, respect for the most fragile people” will help them build the spirituality of communion, the spirituality of living together, so that the community journey becomes a “holy pilgrimage”. 

The elderly

In special way the Holy Father urged them to care for their elderly nuns saying “they are the memory of the congregation”. “Don’t leave them there in the infirmary, abandoned, no. Go to them, let them speak – they are the memory – caress them. Do not forget the elderly.” 

The Pope encouraged the Theatine sisters to love and respect one another and seek the good of the other as their foundress taught them, saying this is a good path to holiness.

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16 June 2018, 15:57