Women religious pose for a photo outside the Cathedral of Morelia in the state of Michoacan, Mexico, Feb. 15. Pope Francis will visit the church prior to his meeting with youth. CNS photo/Junno Arocho Esteves

Pope's visit is a call to live a merciful life, cloistered nun says

By  Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service
  • February 16, 2016

MORELIA, Mexico - Pope Francis' visit to Morelia will be a call for those suffering to continue along the path of good and an encouragement for those in religious life to live their vocations with mercy, tenderness and love, said a cloistered Mexican nun.

Sacramentine Sister Maria de Jesus de la Ostia Santa said her expectations "had changed quite a bit" since the pope's arrival.

"We thought he was coming with another kind of message, and what we have seen is that he is asking those in consecrated life to live in mercy, in tenderness and in love," she told Catholic News Service Feb. 15.

Sister Maria, from the Diocese of Tlaxcala, traveled six hours by bus with 18 of her fellow sisters to attend the pope's Mass with priests, seminarians, religious men and women and consecrated people Feb. 16.

While workers were frantically making final preparations for the pope's visit to the Cathedral of Morelia, the joyful group of sisters attracted quite a bit of attention, even posing for pictures with pilgrims.

Sister Maria said those in religious and consecrated life have a particular affinity for the Jesuit pope who, like them, "has also taken vows."

"We just want to show him our affection and love and to also listen to what he tells us as a father who is also a religious (person)," she said.

Morelia, the capital city of Michoacan state, is not only the geographical center of Mexico, but is also near the epicenter of organized crime, drug trafficking and extreme violence. The city lies near the Tierra Caliente region, the stronghold of the infamous Knights Templar drug cartel.

Despite the immense suffering faced by people within the state, there are "still many good people" who continue to work toward building peace, Sister Maria said. The pope, she added, will come to "part the sea" and show the good people of Michoacan that a path of hope still exists.

"I think that more than anything, he is coming to give encouragement," she said. "Yes, there are realities that we are facing, but I can say that since we have arrived in Michoacan, we have found good people, beautiful people; so we can't classify the whole state as bad."

The Mexican nun said she believes the pope's words will also be a call to action through prayer for her, her fellow sisters and those in religious and consecrated life. However, in order to transform the lives of others, the lives of those in consecrated life "must also transform."

The pope's call to live in tenderness and love and to be a reflection of God's infinite mercy is "good because we often forget that part about God," she said.

"I think the pope will speak to us along those lines; in that context of love, mercy and forgiveness, because a person in consecrated life must live that more than anyone," she said.

For Sister Maria and her Sacramentine sisters, a face-to-face meeting with Pope Francis would be a dream of a lifetime. Yet, they only have one simple wish: a papal blessing.

"That's what we hope for: that he blesses us and that we be faithful and persevere in following our Lord Jesus Christ," Sister Maria said.

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