Sr. Veronica Rafferty OP reflects on our celebration of 50 years in Argentina
Sister Matilde Franchino wrote a sonnet for the occasion and it opens with the line: “The day we have been waiting for has finally arrived!”
24 February was set aside for the celebration of our fifty years in Argentina as the first three Galway Dominican sisters arrived in Buenos Aires in February 1968. We gathered in Cuartel Quinto, a barrio in the outer circle of the city of Buenos Aires, renowned in recent times for a high level of violence, but as well for its multiplicity of community organizations.
All the sisters who had served on the mission were remembered in a special way even though they were absent, as a chart with their names was attached to the front of the altar, while those Dominican sisters present led the procession at the opening ceremony.
Colourful drapes, murals, flags, photos, symbols and lively music greeted us as we entered the large hall that is used for a gym by the local secondary school and for all the community events. The photos will show all of us sixteen sisters wearing a black and white top made specially for the occasion.
Many close friends gathered to be with us for Mass, followed by a fiesta – sandwiches, musical numbers and of course long conversations remembering times past. Fr. Flannan Hynes and Martin Hunter with the Argentina Provincial, Mercy sisters, Dominican sisters as well as the local bishop and clergy, were welcomed by Noemi before Eucharist began.
Soil brought specially from Galway, Victoria, Buenos Aires and Bariloche was placed at the root of the national tree called the Ceibo, as each decade was recalled. St Dominic and Our Lady had a place of honour near the altar and were the focus of gestures typical of the people’s devotion.
Sr. Veronica Rafferty OP
This is a New Day, Sr. Matilde OP, Victoria Community (English Translation, Sr. Veronica Rafferty)
This is the day we’ve been waiting for, the day for remembering
For reliving memories of what happened and is still happening
This is the day to join with friends and companions on the way
With those who once shared our lives in countless encounters.
Loving words are spoken softly
Words that blow away in the wind
To express a life that our alphabet cannot do.
And to say how the soul bows before the great Mystery
We kneel and stammer a simple thank you.
Mute and calm.
With the Spirits breath that increases in silence
We hope that our fervent prayer will rise in vibrant waves
To make the stars in the heavens dance to the rhythm of the history
that was lived in this Argentine land.