Sunday, January 16, 2011

Maria Anna Bachmann: Mother, Foundress, Friend

This weekend I, along with four other women in formation and three professed sisters on the formation team, gathered in the St. Joseph community room to immerse ourselves in the living witness of Mother Mary Francis Bachmann through her letters. Working at Neumann University for the past two years I have taught the history of the Sisters of Saint Francis of Philadelphia as a precursor to the history of Neumann to first year students. This weekend I encountered a whole new understanding of Mother Bachmann, I was invited into her world and in return invited her into mine. What I found are the words to define the reasons I feel magnetically attracted to this particular community of women.

Mother Francis' sense of mission, her devotion to the Church in the face of challenging clerical power, her commitment to community even though dispersed, her understanding of life and forgiveness, her dedication to the poor, and her deep abiding love for Jesus and his Holy Mother have drawn me into a deeper sense of my desire to belong to a community of women who keep all these things alive and thriving in our 21st century world.

As a closing reflection we were invited to write a letter to Mother Bachmann, below I share my words to her. While this letter is personal on many levels I choose to share because she so freely shared of herself and this is my small way of sharing a piece of myself--with her, and with you.

Dearest Mother Francis,

In these past two days I have come to know you beyond the history I pass on to my students. Before you were stagnate, an historical figure, a seemingly "un-knowable" ghost of the 19th century. But a las, the reality of the communion of saints has brought our souls to a place outside time and space in which we are given the opportunity to encounter each other. You have given me a part of you through your words to our sisters and now I sit in the peaceful stillness of this Sunday--bathed in the sunlight streaming through the window--offering you a part of me.

There is, and for a long time has been, an undeniable force drawing me to this place and into this community. As I sit enlightened by your wisdom I wonder if your sense of mission, that has infused the lives of generations of Franciscan women, has been the driving force of which I speak. I can't help but ponder if women such as Dorothy Day were inspired by women like you! Go where there is need and serve where there is need--no matter the cost--our providential God in the end will sustain you.

In a world increasingly and publicly aware of danger, mission can be lost due to fear--fear of the unknown, fear of safety, fear of being alone. But fear will only hurt us further if we allow it to control our call. You have revealed your own rejection of this paralyzing form of fear by embracing your call of God. Fear has a place, it keeps us smart in certain compromising situations but we can never allow it total control.

As you have consistently pleaded for the prayers of your sisters I now ask for yours. As I step foot into my own foreign defined lands, far from my past understanding of home, be with me and bless my journey. Pray that I know the direction to go and that I have the courage to move toward it confidently.

Your loving daughter,

No comments:

Post a Comment