Goodbye – Au Revoir – Arrivederci Maddalena & Sr Vincy
Mrs Maddalena Del Grosso, Bro. Pietro Del Grosso’s niece, started her work at the Generalate in 2000, when the doorkeeper in charge claimed his right to go in pension. The transition of power to a layperson was made without hassles but not, maybe, without pain. Everyone still remembers the famous speech of the last doorkeeper Brother who declared that he was happy to pass over the torch to a “smart doorkeeper”.
The smart doorkeeper’s name was Maddalena. As a stay-at-home mother, her horizon was limited to the walls of her house. She quickly adapted to her new position. Her perspectives had suddenly expanded to the world’s dimensions. She had to speak English or French, and welcome visitors from all over the world: Brothers, of course, but most of all the guests for the Guest House. Welcoming people is a hallmark of a Generalate with a Guest House. It became Maddalena’s expertise: to be available, to be able to meet any requirement with a smile and good humour, in all occasions. That was the secret of the smart doorkeeper.
Her position, combined with her knowledge in Italian, put her into contact with companies, lawyers, various agencies. She learned about rules and regulations, always complex and changing, on the job. You need a good deal of knowledge and patience to manage the business of a Guest House. Firm and kind at the same time, Maddalena was appreciated by all, whilst defending the interests of her employer.
For quite sometime, she felt tired. She wanted to go for an early retirement, which, unfortunately, started with a serious health problem as sudden as unexpected. Although taken by surprise, the trial provoked Maddalena to start a spiritual journey that allowed her to live the challenge in peace. She can now indulge in her favourite hobby that is drawing and painting.
On Friday, October 27, a farewell celebration gathered all the Brothers present in Rome and the staff members who were also celebrating their birthdays, to say goodbye and sincere and heartfelt thanks to our dear Maddalena. In an improvised speech, she declared how much she had appreciated the 17 years spent in the service of the Generalate. She had found an atmosphere like nowhere else: “a peaceful bubble” to live in. She warmly thanked all the Brothers and Sisters she had met, as well as the lay personnel.
The office at the entrance is now empty. We all miss Maddalena. She had become inimitable. So the Central Administration, in a wise decision, has decided not to replace her. Her work as the doorkeeper and for the contacts with individuals and societies is now entrusted to the Secretary, Mrs. Stephania, who, for the time being, is able to face the extra-work and we are grateful to her.
We all wish Maddalena a happy peaceful long retirement.
It is, in this same year 2017, that the Community of the Generalate loses another corner stone in the person of Sister Vincy. Sr. Vincy is, somehow, Maddalena’s twin sister. Their personality and qualities are alike in many ways. They show to each other a genuine affection that goes far beyond the day-to-day relationships. Sr. Vincy is also leaving us for health reasons.
She arrived in Rome in 1982, with the first group of the Indian Sisters, that is 35 years ago. She worked in the service of the Community of the Generalate for 15 years, in three different stays (1982-1988; 2000-2003; 2011-2017). She is the memory of the Community, not to mention the incarnation of its spirit.
Less exposed than “the smart doorkeeper”, because they have their own quarters, in the basement of the building, the Sisters, under the leadership of Sr Vincy who has been the Local Superior for many years, have ensured, during these 35 years, a service that can be described as exceptional, 365 days a year, whatever the circumstances. The Sisters have never failed in their service, either for cooking, laundry, maintenance of the Chapel and so many other day-to-day services. Always humble and discreet, their dedication testifies to the quality of their spiritual life. The Sisters pray at length, but also, obviously, intensely. An example for us all.
It is not difficult to imagine the uprooting requested from a young Indian Sister, sent on a mission to Europe: the intense effort of adaptation that is required. It means the indispensable learning of the Italian language, different in all aspects from the maternal Malayalam, but necessary to take root and to be integrated in society. You have to adapt to a new way of life that seems rather strange at times. You must let behind what gave consistency to your own existence, to the values of your own culture, and to adopt another one. Sr. Vincy did it without losing her own personality, which testifies to an outstanding personal balance.
As the Local Superior, Sr. Vincy plays the role of mother, both for the Sisters’ Community as well as the Brothers’. Caring in everything, she is very considerate towards everyone. She lives to the full the motto of her Congregation: “Love and Serve”.
After so many years of good service, health condition is at stake. Time has come to say goodbye to all those you know, with whom you have related, to tear the networks woven over time and to go back to your far away country, where the Superiors will certainly give Sr Vincy a new mission adapted to her capacities and health conditions. We will miss our dear Sr. Vincy, our Madre.
The Superior General, during the farewell celebration organized on the occasion of her departure, expressed the gratitude of the Community for her availability and the quality of her service, her kindness and the testimony of a genuine Religious Life lived peacefully and joyously. In any circumstance, Sr. Vincy looks calm and smiling. Precious qualities when you have to deal with a group as complex and multifaceted as the Community of a Generalate.
Her departure to India is scheduled on December 19. She will be replaced by another Sister who comes from the Community in Florence and who already knows Italy and the Italian language.
Dear Sr. Vincy, we wish you a safe journey back home and a successful re-insertion in India. Welcome to Rome to Sister Celine.
Bro. Georges Le Vern,