lunes, 7 de abril de 2014


On 22nd February, Sr. Yvette travelled with Dr. Waldery Hilgeman, Postulator, and Br. Reginald Cruz, cfx, Vice Postulator, to Portugal. It was an opportunity to experience the missionary country of Bl. Maria and to meet the sisters and the people who deeply love Maria.

As part of the experience, both Waldery and Reginald shared the process for the cause for the canonization of Bl. Maria. After our arrival and overnight in Lisbon, we travelled to Ermesinde and arrived in time for the Sunday liturgy. The Church is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and it is where the remains of Bl. Maria rest on a special altar. The Church was filled – and there was also a couple present to celebrate their wedding anniversary with the renewal of their vows.

The music and the choir were wonderful! The celebrant was Fr. Dario, a Jesuit, who is the Portugal director of the Apostleship of Prayer, specifically promoting the devotion to the Heart of Jesus.

Following the liturgy we enjoyed a very festive meal with the community. The sisters had announced prior to our arrival that there would be an open gathering that afternoon to hear about the process and its current status.
There were approximately 100 people who participated. Canon João da Silva Peixoto served as the moderator. There was a wonderful exchange by all in attendance.

It was in Ermesinde that we first experienced the beauty of the camellia flowers that Bl. Maria loved. They were in full bloom! As we travelled to Porto we viewed more of the beauty of nature that Maria so loved – the views of the Atlantic Ocean were magnificent, with huge waves crashing upon the shore.
Sister M. Fatima Pires accompanied us through our days together as well as Sr. Margarida, our driver.

We stayed overnight in Porto at Bl. Maria’s house! Sr. Gabriela and her community welcomed us warmly. One of the special “attractions” for Reginald was the archives where he could research some of the important history of not only Bl. Maria but also of Porto itself.
The next morning we were all very blessed to be able to participate in the Eucharist in the chapel, in what used to be Bl. Maria’s room! The pastor of the local parish celebrated for all of us – the chapel was filled! Again, it was an opportunity to share with the people on the cause of Bl. Maria.
After Mass there was time for the sharing of stories of graces and blessings received. We then went to visit the cemetery where Bl. Maria was first buried among the poor people of the city.

After saying our goodbyes, we then made our way to Fatima and arrived in time for lunch! We were very well fed throughout our days of journey in Portugal! Sr. Lucilia, the province leader, met us in Fatima and continued our journey wiyh us. Once again, we had a session for the sisters who were eager to hear about the process and to ask many questions. Afterwards, we had time to visit the shrine of Fatima. We learned that there is a statue of St. John Eudes in the basilica of Fatima because of his dedication and teachings on the Heart of Mary. We also had time to visit the houses of the children, Francesco, Jacinta, and Lucia.

Before continuing our trip back to Lisbon, we, of course, had to stop for a hot chocolate!

After having a good night’s rest, we started out the next morning for the Shrine of Cristo Rei. The Shrine was originally built in thanksgiving to the Sacred Heart for protecting Portugal during WWII. Now it also has a chapel dedicated to the “Confidants of the Heart of Jesus” and includes the relics and modern artistic paintings of four people who lived deeply and spread devotion to the Heart of Jesus; namely, St. John Eudes, Bl. Maria of the Divine Heart, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, and St. Faustina. It was in this chapel that we attended the Eucharistic liturgy for the day.

The dream of having a Church built in dedication to “Saint” Maria of the Divine Heart still remains a strong desire of the Shrine Director, Fr. Sezinando Alberto.
He has obtained a rock from the Droste zu Vischering family from the Darfeld Castle. The rock will be placed in the foundation stone. Following our morning visit, we then travelled to the Patriarch of Lisbon’s
office for our appointment to share the update on the process. Mons. Manuel Clemente was very happy to hear the rapid progress that has occurred in such a short period of time.

And he promised to support the ongoing process by letters from the Episcopal Conference of Bishops in Portugal to encourage the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to continue moving forward the cause of Bl. Maria.
Our last afternoon in Portugal included a special treat at a famous bakery. We think it is the largest bakery in the whole world!!

It has an incredible amount of serving rooms so that customers can enjoy their special treats – custard cakes
– a recipe that dates back to the 1800’s.
After so many events, meetings, and kindnesses received, we said goodbye to our sisters on the 26th February. “Obrigada” and “Merci Beaucoup” for your great generosity in our pilgrimage journey to the land of Bl. Maria. In her own words: “Nothing in the world could take the place of this little piece of earth.”

Submitted by Yvette Arnold,
Congregational Secretary

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