A farewell note from Sr. Margaret Phelan

Dear Friends and community,

I was first introduced to this community in 2001 when I was in Rome for a few weeks as interpreter for another congregation’s general chapter. When I returned in September 2003 I immediately came to Caravita and have been a part of this community ever since.

I came to Rome to serve our congregation at the international level in the dual capacity of interpreter for international meetings. I was quickly recruited by the UISG and some religious orders as an interpreter for their meetings and as General Archivist for my own order. I had served as provincial archivist in the USA for nine years prior to coming to Rome. After nearly 18 years of service as General Archivist, I have now retired from that role and have turned it over to the two lay archivists I hired ten years ago. I leave next Sunday for three months of family visits, retreat, and vacation in various parts of the US and will settle in St. Louis, MO at the end of August My new home will be a seven minute walk from our provincial archives, where I hope to be able to be of some assistance, without carrying the responsibility.

There are a very few of you, members of the Caravita Community, who have been here longer than I. Many others have come and gone over the years and some have even come back either to visit or for another stay in Rome.

I was initially drawn to the diversity of people I met here, the excellence of the homilies, the welcoming attitude of “all are welcome”, and the fact of our not being a “parish” with all the rules and regulations that entails. All were invited to participate in whatever way we could: as readers, communion ministers, altar servers, greeters, members of the Pastoral Council, Web-page coordinator, choir and other. The only steps I missed over the years were those of web-page, choir and greeters. After a few years, we developed a training program for the various tasks of altar service. After some time, many became uncomfortable with a gradual movement towards greater clericalism and exercise of power. Some left, others of us withdrew somewhat from those situations.

For me, the strong point was always that of the spiritual community and the friendships that developed among us. The annual retreat was always something planned and executed with care and an eye for time to share and also enjoy each other’s company and some good food. My regret is that I was rarely in Rome at that time of the year.

I have seen this community grow through a very painful crisis, facing reality and looking for ways to come to a new reality, all the stronger for having worked through the pain, anger, hurt and using our various talents – as well as much prayer and mutual support – to create something new and very beautiful. I feel that this Paschal moment has brought this community through to a new Risen life that will bring much fruit.

With the onset of the pandemic last year, this community looked for and continues to find ways of gathering around the altar, using whatever means at our disposal. The zoom liturgies have been my mainstay for over a year and I am just very happy that I was finally able to join in person once I had been vaccinated. It would have been very sad for me to leave Rome and Caravita without having received your blessing in person.

I will miss you each very much and the spiritual richness of this community that has been such a gift to me over these many years. You will be in my thoughts prayers as you continue to grow and to make many more feel very welcome.
Grazie! Arrivederci!