Celebrations of the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Mary on June 20, 2020 were very different this year as RSHM in all countries were prevented from gathering because of the pandemic. Celebrations included small community gatherings, renewing our vows online, and even a zoom assembly.
The zoom assembly was held in our Eastern American Area. Sisters from New York, Virginia, Florida, and Rome attended a morning of prayer and received updates about recent activities and projects from the Area Leadership Council. Everyone managed the technology very well. After three months of lockdown, we were delighted to see one another, evidenced by the smiles and greetings as each joined the zoom video.
Sisters in the Western American Area were encouraged to participate in the virtual Poor People’s March with its focus on a national agenda of moral renewal, demanding economic justice, the end of systemic racism, and a commitment to ecological stewardship. The sisters were also reminded that the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Mary was also World Refugee Day.
In many parts of the Institute, local community gatherings were the norm. In Brazil, the communities in Curvelo, Riachão do Jacuípe / Bahia, Ubá, and Belo Horizonte were able to have Eucharistic celebrations in their houses, with the parish priest presiding, maintaining social distance. At the SHM Novitiate in Belo Horizonte, original plans to join the SHM retirement center were cancelled; however, at the Novitiate, Eucharist was celebrated by a Carvanis priest, a neighbor who brought his five seminarians to join the community.
In Zambia, in the Lusaka community, Eucharist was celebrated by Archbishop emeritus, Mpundu. In Choma, the community hosted the sisters in Chivuna for the celebration of Eucharist which was also live streamed on Facebook.
In addition to community celebrations in Portugal, the sisters in Guimarães had previously worked with the children in their “Obra Social” to illustrate the meaning of the feast. With masks and care for social distance, the children displayed the hearts they had created, as seen in this video: https://youtu.be/U4pZeVhnfgc
In some cases, it was possible to reach out to the broader community. In Mozambique, sisters in Maputo, Beira, Gurué and Inhazónia commemorated the day with prayer, reflection, and the sharing of food and other goods with local people in need. The sisters also created a video of their celebrations: https://youtu.be/CEk-qWZGYIM
On our feast, “we look to Mary, who, as his [Jesus’] first disciple, cooperated most faithfully in the work of redemption. . . . Because of the deep and active receptivity of her faith Mary was empowered by the Spirit to say YES to God in the face of the unpredictable and even the impossible, to say YES without condition. It is the totality of this gift of herself that we are called to imitate.” (Constitutions 3)
The following gallery of pictures provides a sense of the spirit of the day.