Dear friends and family,
Sister Edna Hess • President, Sisters of the Precious Blood
Summer is fading, another school year is beginning, and life continues. What life will bring we do not know. We may have lots of plans, yet some or many of them may never be realized. Life is a journey, a journey we as Christians believe leads us from our earthly home to our eternal home of life with the Divine Trinity.
Another word used for journey is pilgrimage. The word pilgrimage carries with it a religious sense. Over the ages, men and women have journeyed to religious sites honoring their deity. They have pilgrimaged to these sites alone or with others in order to give praise or thanksgiving, or to seek help. In Genesis chapter 12, Abraham is invited by God to leave his country and his father’s house to go to a land that God would show him. Abraham, trusting in God, set off with his wife and his nephew Lot and his family.
In this issue of Sharing & Caring, our coordinator of peace, justice and ecology, Jen Morin-Williamson, shares with us her pilgrimage to the places our foundress, Mother Maria Anna Brunner, visited in Rome; the places where Mother Brunner lived in Switzerland and Lichtenstein; and the shrines where she pilgrimaged. Mother Brunner made many pilgrimages during her lifetime. Her pilgrimage to Rome led her to encounter with the Pious Union of the Precious Blood, which had been founded by St. Gaspar.
As I reflected on our history as a Congregation, I realized that we have made many journeys, many pilgrimages over our more than 175 years of existence. Early in our history — 1844 to be exact — Father Francis de Sales Brunner brought our congregation here to the United States. The early Sisters left behind their families and their country to come to Ohio. The journey across the ocean and the trip up the Mississippi and Ohio rivers had to have been a pilgrimage of faith in order to answer the call to serve the German immigrants in northwestern Ohio!
The Sisters didn’t just stay in Ohio. In 1873, Sisters went to Tennessee; in 1903, Arizona; in 1913, California; and in 1957, Chile. In January 1977, I began my pilgrimage to Chile following the courageous women who had preceded me. There, I discovered the beauty of a long, narrow country, a people very welcoming and a culture very enriching. For me, all of life is a journey, a pilgrimage. Each new place, each new experience is discovering God in the people and places I serve.
I invite you, our readers, to take some time to recall your life’s journey, your life’s pilgrimage. Who walked with you? Who revealed God to you? Who helped you in moments of darkness, pain and suffering? Where were you called to pilgrimage? What are those sacred places that have special meaning for you? We are a pilgrim people on a journey that leads us to our eternal home.
God bless your pilgrimage