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Union of Our Lady of Charity Chapter - Carrollton 2007
04 July 2007
Today we were fortunate in benefiting from Edwina Gateley’s presence and testimony.
Edwina is of English origin, and currently lives in Erie, Pennsylvania. She founded the Volunteer Missionary Movement, and has dedicated over twenty years of her life to women in prostitution. She leads retreats and is also the author of many books.
Taking our Chapter theme, Edwina communicated her faith and enthusiasm, as well as her conviction that God is here, in our lives, at the heart of our daily reality. The only journey worth making is the journey to meet God, recognising God already present, and bringing that presence to awareness. Do we know who we are? We are God’s beloved daughters! All we have to do is to incarnate that truth in the world, and lead each person to discover that reality. Each one is a tiny piece of God! We can bring God to birth in today’s world...
For women living in prostitution, the interior dimension holds as much importance for them as for us. It is as important as all other dimensions of their being. That is why Edwina does not hesitate to offer them times of retreat! To lead these retreats she takes with her women who have recovered, and have left prostitution! She reminded us that hope is resilient, never loses courage’s, and continues to believe in possibilities for new life. We need to have energy to persevere until the possibilities for life in the other person are ripe. We need to seek where God´s seed is sown in the other., and be faithful even when there is no fruit. When the time is right, fruit will come.
All of us are mothers and healers...and we have to find creative ways to allow that to come about, even if we cannot do everything. We need to accept that God works through our vulnerability. God’s entry point is through the wound in our hearts! What can lead us to despair can also open up new possibilities.
Edwina possesses an extraordinary talent for storytelling - stories communicating the essential, stories which are enabling as well as challenging! There was nothing banal about her own story which she shared with us. She considers it important that we share our stories together, for mutual encouragement. Rather than asking questions which risk being irrelevant, we should invite people to share their stories.
In her personal story she brings out the tension we often find between what society tells us and what the Gospel says. On the one hand there is the search for security, for power, and on the other hand there is trust in God, care for the little ones. If we are on the side of the gospel, we will always be a little strange... God is the great “illegal immigrant” crossing through all barriers, walls and frontiers. God is on the side of those who are excluded, and therefore we too should be with those who are excluded, until everyone becomes included!
Our image of God is always a limited one, which we are ceaselessly invited to enlarge. God grows in us and through us, and God is beyond any image one may have. Let God be God in us! The world is already saved...We do not have to do it. Wherever God finds an empty space, miracles are worked!
It was very clear by the end of this day, that the charism of mercy and compassion does not belong to us, nor to Our Lady of Charity: It is entrusted to us, and we must always put it first working from within it, wherever God may lead us.
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