“You shall know them by their fruits. Every good tree brings forth good fruit.”
MT 7:16a & 17a
Until a few short years ago, I had never heard the names Solana, Ernestine and Hilaria. The foundresses courageously followed God’s call to form the Franciscan Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help (FSOLPH) 120 years ago, planting seeds that have blossomed in faithful prayer, care for creation, and loving, compassionate presence with others right up to the present day. What a huge part they’ve played in my life’s “movie” and maybe yours, too. Their prophetic vision and its empowering manifestations have enabled this Catholic convert from New Jersey to grow in hope and joy, to have experiences and opportunities, friendships and support that I otherwise would never have had. I can’t imagine who I’d be without the influence and spirit of those three women, handed down to me through the Sisters of today.
Do you know what has impressed me the most about the FSOLPH over the years? It’s their unwavering commitment to conversion of heart. No matter the situation, need or dilemma, they continually return to The Source for their strength and guidance. Many religious orders cultivate a contemplative stance, but what is so inspiring to me—what has changed me—is their gentleness and the respect they show for the movement of the Spirit, each other and themselves in the process. They go about doing good with a degree of patience, conviction and integrity that is a rare in this fast-paced, trend-conscious and often hypocritical world. What a valuable example for those of us who find it hard to slow down long enough amid all the busyness and distractions to hear what God might be trying to say.
In my opinion, one of the take-home messages of a relationship with the Sisters is this: You don’t know how choosing to turn your will over to God may impact the world. Just your simple presence or one act of fidelity to God might make all the difference in someone else’s life or the life of a person you will never meet. Solana, Ernestine and Hilaria could not have guessed in their wildest dreams all the people they would touch, including me, through their legacy of love.
Thanks, my beloved Sisters, and keep the faith. You’ll be changing lives for decades to come.