“Shine like lights in the world.” Phil. 2: 15. We let our light shine every day but we did this for each other on June 19th at Caritas! In these days of divisive rhetoric and polarization in both the Church and the world, women religious came together at the top of a hill in Culver City to celebrate the Light of Christ shining within each of us and enjoy a barbeque together.
The Carmelites Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles, who live and minister at Marycrest Manor and RSC’s who live here at Caritas came together. Four of the Carmelite sisters who attended are preparing for Final Vows on July 15, Sister Faustina, Sister Shawn Pauline, Sister Isabelle and Sister Marie Estelle brought great life and energy. Religious Sisters of Charity Miriam Hennessey and Kathleen Newell also joined us for the evening. The spirit of joy and affection was mutual and palpable. We honored our foundresses, Mother Luisita and Mary Aikenhead.
The witness of this gathering strengthened our unity and reverenced our diversity as we are faithful to our differing charisms. Our opening prayer had us singing, listening to the Scriptures that we should let God’s light shine, and a ritual action of acknowledging how each sister allows God to shine through her. Let’s just say that stars were involved! Nearby on Hollywood Blvd are stars in the sidewalks honoring various actors and celebrities! We had our own version of being stars which were suspended from the mantelpiece. See the photo to get a better sense of this ritual. With only the gifts and qualities displayed on the stars we competed to see who could guess which sister was being described. We played some games that challenged our thinking and callisthenic skills as well as affirmed the gifts in each sister. Creative gifts shone in the ice cream making sundae contest. The Carmelite Sisters wrote a wonderful song which included a verse about each RSC present as well as Sr. Margaret Mary. The following day they sang this song for sister. We were gifted with a live performance as they sang this song for us and Sr. Cora accompanied all on the drums.
The mutual respect and genuine love strengthened our unity as women in love with Christ. This witness is surely a counter cultural sign to the divisions that arise in our world today. The joy we experienced together surely lit up our hill in Culver City that evening. “We are the light of the world, may our light shine before all, that they may see the good that we do, and give glory to God.“