Come as you are – Uta Sievers on 15 years with Caravita

By Uta Sievers

December 2021

I arrived in Rome in November 2006 but that was not the first time I came to Caravita. I think I may have started coming in 2003, on my trips from London. However, when I first came to mass after having settled in, I thought of course nobody would recognize me. I was wrong! When I arrived, Dan Madigan was sweeping up cigarette butts on the steps outside. Looking up, he just said, “Hi Uta.”

I didn’t say “Rabbuni!” but it would have been appropriate – the shock of being recognized by someone you like very much, being met by them at your level, where you are, on the outside…

So I stayed. Sometime in 2009 or so I became an acolyte, and just yesterday, while packing my boxes, I found the tiny cheat sheet that I had written for myself. I really enjoyed “wrapping people in a cloud of incense”. Before that, I served on the Pastoral Council from 2011 to 2013, and after that, I had the great pleasure of being the “Master of Zoom Ceremonies” for on line Masses during the Covid pandemic.

Introducing myself for election to the pastoral council, I wrote in 2011 about the reasons to be part of Caravita: “The people, the community feel, the inclusiveness, the preaching, the thoughtful way of celebrating, the festive atmosphere, the arrangement of the chairs.” When I think back to those first years, my “honeymoon period”, and compare them to the last two years since I’ve been back after some time away, my heart aches. The squabbles we had in the “golden days” seem almost funny compared to the real problems of today: squeezed in between two other masses, blinded by neon light, our intimate circle of chairs disrupted by Covid-distancing, our hymn books unused.

None of this is of our own making, and yet it is the reality that we have to face every Sunday. We can complain, but we can also fill this space, our space at the margins. We can lead from the edge. We can show perseverance and how we learned to cooperate and make things work in the face of huge obstacles. This will be the Church of the future, as I see it, and we are being pressed, formed into a community to serve that Church, to become future-proof.

This spirit of a Church to come, this physical and spiritual experience, has already been carried out into the world by so many who have “left” Caravita – in quotation marks because of course you never really leave a place like this as it becomes imprinted on you, rather.

And today I am joining their ranks. So, what’s next for me? I am in deep discernment, and it’s not a comfortable place. I have decided to throw open the doors to all possibilities: I have yet to decide on the place to move to, nor on the work to do there, nor the people to live with.

Please pray for me – and know that your blessing will be my nourishment for what might become a very long road, but God willing, I’ll be in a good place when I arrive, and I’ll bring a piece of Caravita to that place along with that sense of being known that I had here from the beginning. Thank you!