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Monday, May 10, 2010

Join the Convent and See the World

Here is the link to an article that was written for the Florida Catholic about me. I thought you might enjoy reading it here.

The truth is that one of my brother's used to say "Join the convent and see the world!" I suspect he was a bit envious. The Society of the Sacred Heart is an international Society. Most of us make our final vows in Rome after about five months of a more contemplative experience. I was at the famous convent at the top of the Spanish steps, the Trinita, before going back to the Mother House for those five months so I actually had a year in Rome. From Rome, I went directly to Chile and arrived on Valentine's Day, 1960; I was there for the next 20 years. However, in 1973-74 I studied in the Institute for Religious Formation at St. Louis University and we made the thirty-day retreat in Manresa, Spain, where St. Ignatius wrote his famous Spiritual Exercises. After the retreat, I visited France to see the birthplace of St. Madeleine Sophie, our foundress, in Joigny and also visited Paris and then had time in Barcelona before returning. I was always in our convents. I returned to give the thirty-day retreat to two Religious priests, a Religious brother, and a Sister - all from different countries- for the Institute for Religious Formation in 1977 and I also taught the highest class in the Normal School in Peru before returning to Chile to be superior in the poorest region in the north.
Before leaving Peru I had the opportunity to travel and even go to the famous Inca shrine at Machu Pichu (hope my spelling is correct).
Later, I went to Oxford to give a paper at the International Patristic Conference and had a month to travel to visit friends in Scotland and England and do some research for my dissertation in France and Belgium before spending three months in Rome at the Villa Lante where our general archives are located. I was invited to visit Malta for a week during that time and fell in love with that country and its lovely people. Later, I visited a very good friend in Palma de Mallorca and was able to get there three times before she died; we had worked together in Chile and were spiritual soulmates! I taught one summer in Spain and had a chance to visit the north of Spain as we have a retirement house near Burgos and from there I went to Loyola and also San Sebastian. I forgot to say that I had been at Lourdes after giving the retreat in Spain and also had gone back to Rome that time to see friends. I taught Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross that one summer and could take the students to Avila, Toledo, and Segovia as we stayed in El Escorial. I also went to Spain on Spring break with my brother and sister-in-law and we rented a car and toured some of the most beautiful spots. That was fun. I went back a few years ago to give a paper at an International meeting on Sacred Heart Spirituality at Joigny in France and had time afterwards to visit friends in England. One drove me many places that I could never have seen by myself. A couple of years ago I had a great trip over to Scotland and England using my frequent flyer miles to see some old friend and make new ones. Three of my International students were from Scotland and it was wonderful to be with them. One drove me on a pilgrimage to Iona- a gorgeous ride that I will never forget. The island of Iona is fascinating and it was a real pilgrimage and I am most grateful for that whole trip and for seeing friends in England, too. I guess I should mention a trip to Halifax and Prince Edward Island one summer; I would love to tour Canada and maybe this will happen before I die. The important thing is the wonderful relationships I have with people all over the world: Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, and, of course, Chile; I have been back twice for visits using my frequent flyer miles. Well, all this just came off the top of my head but justifies the title given to the article!


Yvette Fuentes said...

Dear Sr. Helen, it's good to see that you're back! I've missed reading your blog entries. Congratulations on the story in the Florida Catholic and more importantly on your upcoming retirement from St. Thomas. Hopefully retirement will allow you even more time to travel the world.
Peace & Prayers,

Unknown said...


May you continue in your physical and cyberworld travels. God bless you.

Helen said...

I suspect I may not be able to travel much, but I am looking forward to retirement from the University as it will give me time for writing. We are also beginning a group for all alums of the International Online Program so we can discuss books and continue our spiritual growth.
Love and prayer,

Helen said...

Dear Alex,
You are one of the first alumni of the International Online Program in Spirituality Studies and still one of the most outstanding scholars with many ministries. I am happy to be your prayer partner.