It’s always a homecoming for me to return to places where I’ve previously lived, and Italy is one of the best. I was excited to come to Rome last week to help with an international study commission for the Ursulines. The spontaneity of the Italian people, beauty of the Roman Forum and St. Peter’s Basilica, and–of course–the incomparable flavors of food and vino of this area are always delightful.
Last evening, a group of us sisters went to Trastevere (“across the Tiber”) for a relaxing evening. We enjoyed a meal, strolled the quaint, cobblestoned streets, and watched children play in the piazza. Then we entered the church of Santa Maria for 8:30 prayer with the Community of Sant’Egidio. This community of lay people, dedicated to solidarity with the poor and sharing of the Gospel, has more than 60,000 members in Rome and 73 countries around the world. Some in the community have become good friends over the years and were there to welcome us last night.
I was touched to learn that some of my friends were unable to be at the prayer last night because of their efforts with refugees. It’s this Sant’ Egidio Community which has helped establish a humanitarian corridor of passage for refugees to Rome. It is they who asked the sisters at our Ursuline generalate here to house one of the families Pope Francis brought back from his visit to Lesbos in Greece. In fact, I learned last night that more than one thousand refugees are being assisted here by the Sant’ Egidio community. This, for me, is true homecoming—coming back to see that the human and Christian spirit of love we share endures and expands, day by day, at every moment of history. We are all one body in Christ.