Tuesday, August 18, 2009
The Chilean flag brings back so many fond memories. Chile is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, but it is the people I miss so much after many years away. I arrived without knowing a word of Spanish. It was Valentine's Day, 1960, and I had come straight from my final profession in Rome. I had learned only one phrase in Spanish: how to ask for my superior's blessing! I suppose I thought that would solve all my problems.
The first days were spent in Santiago applying for permanent residence as at that time one went to the missions for life. I stayed in the century old convent of Maestranza, with the huge cedar tree shading the patio. That beautiful tree had been planted by Mother du Rosier who first brought the Society of the Sacred Heart to Chile in 1854. With only two Religious to begin the foundation she opened a normal school at the request of the government and then a boarding school to educate young girls. When other Religious arrived to help, a free school was opened and then came more foundations in Chile and then Peru. I knew very little of the history of the Society in Chile and still less of the history of Chile, but remember feeling a certain awe as I prayed at the tomb of this famous Mother who was buried in a small chapel in the garden. I must say that Maestranza had about 13 patios and I was just amazed at the size of the convent.
More memories to follow.