I am sr Amalia Paradiso, and after more than 40 years spent teaching in the primary school and catechism in the parish I was asked to begin an apostolic ministry completely new to me in Palermo, where our “mission is on the road”!
This year I experienced even more that “When God calls and we listen to Him, He gives all that is needed”. Everything was new to me: the territory, the ministry, the community… in everything I felt God’s help and I thank Him!
The community was established here 14 years ago; at first it was located in Ciaculli, then it was transferred in the neighbourhood called “Brancaccio” close to the Parish of Maria SS. delle Grazie, (Our Lady of Graces). There, listening to Pope Francis’ invitation to reach “the existential and human peripheries” to let know our merciful Father, the community visits the families of the neighbourhood, listening to their needs and comforting sick and elderly. We do our visits with the help of a group of lay friends: the Sentinels of Peace.
People from different social background live in the neighbourhood; many of them experience some kind of poverty: school drop-out, house arrest, young people with no interest in the future, broken families and elderly sick and lonely. In the neighbourhood there are neither green areas nor places where people could meet and socialize, and only few buses connect the area to downtown. Nonetheless people are welcoming and consider the community of the Sisters as part of the family; in fact they are a point of reference in all their troubles.
Every day after Morning Prayer I contact the Sentinels’ group on WhatsApp to organize our visits. Often we visit only one person, because we prefer to listen to each person fully and to take time to re-read their experience in the light of the Gospel, as Jesus did with the disciples at Emmaus.
We visit more often those who live alone or the most marginalized. Some of them always receive us with joy and they keep us there for quite a long time. Others are less open and feel low because of grief and illness, yet slowly they get talking and with our constant support they often feel better and sometimes are also able to help others. I love this ministry, because in them I see Jesus and the Spirit at work in them, bringing them back to life, enabling them to understand and support others. Another important activity is the service at the parish’ Charitas where I take part in a Gospel sharing group with the mums of the children attending the catechism. In my ministry I hear the unceasing “cry” of the poor and I see the importance of preparing lay people to cooperate and be more responsible and active in the neighbourhood. We also try to build communion within the Church by working with other religious congregations so that together we may be witnesses to hope and fraternity.
Sr Amalia P. – Palermo