David and I are enjoying a lovely spring weekend, made all the more enjoyable with a visit from Fr. George Cerniglia and Michael Chiuri. Fr. George (US Provincial Council – Religious Life) came to Winnipeg to visit Michael, an SM Aspirant, and our Marianist Brothers: Archbishop Raymond Roussin, Fr. Luis Melo, Fr. John Kratcher and Bro. Joe Andre. We were thrilled that a trip to Neepawa was on their itinerary. (Neepawa is 200 km away from Winnipeg – a two hour drive.) I’ve known George for many years both on the North American scene and from his years on the General Administration in Rome. We’ve stayed in touch through email, but our paths haven’t crossed in almost four years. As the four of us shared stories, news and life, we bounced back and forth from deep conversations to rib-busting laughter…..in true Marianist style!
As I sit here relishing our time together, I’m also thinking about the meaning of visits. Mary models a deep sign of love and friendship through her visitation to Elizabeth. Visiting requires taking time out of your routine. It requires effort, cost, and sacrifice – especially when traveling many miles. Today, we are blessed with many means of communication that keep us connected and help us to form bonds of friendship across the miles. These are valuable gifts, and we try to use them to the best of our ability. But, you can’t beat an actual face to face visit. I’m not sure who was happier in our Nairobi meeting, the hosts or the visitors. We all experienced the joy of giving and receiving hospitality. The joy of sharing lives, cultures, stories…..and laughter!
I hope that I can somehow translate this reflection into concrete action. As the MLC International Team, we don’t have the resources or the ability to do the visitations that our Sisters and Brothers of the FMI and SM do. I marvel at the miles they travel, and the experiences they share with us. We are unable to do the same, but we should perhaps explore ways to do more than we do.