Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Missionary Congregation of St Gemma Galgani.

The Italian journal Adista reports on an unfortunate and disturbing dispute between Bishop Marcello Semeraro, Bishop of Albano and the Missionary Congregation of St Gemma Galgani.

According to Adista, the nuns' job was teaching Christian doctrine to the children of the Parish. They have been sacked by the Bishop of Albano, from Laziale, near Rome, because they refused to accept a clause in their contract which required that they be home helps of the Parish Priest and the Vice-Parish Priest of the Parish of Saints Peter and Paul in the town of Aprília .

The Bishop’s demand was considered 'unacceptable' by the Superior of the Mother House in Lucca, Tuscany, about 10 miles north-east of Pisa.

As a result the Bishop has dismissed the three sisters in spite of a petition signed by 1500 parishioners supporting them.

Bishop Semeraro did not even take into account the fact that the priests in question have stated that they 'had not asked for the services of the sisters in view of the fact that they prefer their present condition and their independence.'

On October 21 the three sisters had to leave the parish.

The Sisters of St Gemma are one of about 15 small religious congregrations that are associated in varying degrees to the Passionist order.

They were founded by Mother Gemma Giannini (1884-1971) who knew St. Gemma Galgani in 1899 and lived in close friendship with her.

When the monastery of the Passionist Nuns at Lucca was opened, she entered in 1906 and remained a Passionist nun until 1938.

Because she had not recovered her health, despite repeated exits for cures, she left definitively with the idea of gathering a group of women who would live in the spirit of St. Gemma outside the cloister.

With two other companions, she began the Institute on June 8, 1939 at Villa Guerra (Camigliano, Lucca), because "it seemed to her that the Lord would want the places sanctified by St. Gemma to be in the care of persons living according to her spirit."

They are committed "to loving and making Jesus known through the teaching of catechism to little ones, through meditation on the Passion, as rural catechists, especially in rural areas".

The sisters take the Special vow of the Passionists. The first approbation was from the Ordinary of La Spezia in 1946.

As a Diocescan congregation, they are in theory at the beck and call of the Bishop.

One does wonder if the Bishop had taken leave of his senses. Good on the Mother Superior for not allowing her sisters to be unpaid household druges.