Rome (Italy) “Residential Week” it is the appellation that the novices of the International Novitiate “Sr. Teresa Valsè Pantellini” of Rome, Roman Province of St. John Bosco (IRO), have given to this prolonged quarantine time that they find themselves living because of the pandemic. It is a particular time, which allows slowing down compared to ordinary rhythms and to rediscover some aspects of community life
Various activities mark the rhythm of the days: prayer, study, online lessons, but also those that found less space, such as sewing, gardening, more accurate cleaning of the rooms, sports.
There are also particular moments that mark the week: one is adoration every Wednesday afternoon, experienced as a concrete sign of closeness to the sick, doctors, nurses, and all those who live this period with greater difficulty. Then there is the response to Pope Francis’ prayer appeals, which make us feel we are walking with the whole Church united together to implore the end of the pandemic. The Novices also accepted the invitation of Mother General, Sr. Yvonne Reungoat, to pray the Novena every day to Mary Help of Christians, to entrust to her, who is the mother and support of every person, of all those who are suffering.
Another appointment, which began as a flash-mob and continued as a moment of animation for the neighbors of the surrounding buildings, is the daily one at 6 pm where, from the rooftop terrace, the novices sing some typical Italian songs. Some evenings, the terrace turns into a place for praying the rosary where the same neighbors who wish to participate join in: each puts a light on the window or terrace as a sign of hope and, in an atmosphere of silence and prayer, this particular moment of entrustment to Mary is lived. They are opportunities to do apostolate in a different way and to get closer to the people of Rome, which the daily routine hardly allows us to approach.
Thanks to this time, the novices are rediscovering, personally and as a community, what is really essential and they experience that daily relationships – among themselves, in the apostolate, in the school – are not to be taken for granted, but help to give a renewed meaning to the mission. Once back to normal, one can treasure the small steps and choices experienced in this period, for many tiring, but also special.