Various tourists traverse the wide road. Yet most of them are unaware that on this road, a Holy Saint used to walk and share her gentle smile with everyone she met.

XX Settembre is a famous yet unassuming road in Roma. Besides the Porta Pia, Santa Maria della Vittoria church, and the Fontana del Mosè, the orange trees at its side make this road more colorful and enchanting.

Saint Raphaela Mary welcomed everyone with her whole heart, and now, she still welcomes those who visit the Lord in her Church – the Sacred Heart Church. Every day, there are many people, young and old, women and men, pilgrims and passersby, who come to this magnificent Church to adore the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and by the side of the altar, lay the most precious wealth of the Church, her remains of incorruptible Body.

This is indeed a place of coming and going, hellos and goodbyes, generosity and hospitality. It houses our congregation’s core servant-leaders – the Curia, our elders and the sickly who pray most earnestly and offer sacrifices most courageously in the Infirmary, and we – the Tertians who discern, confirm and totally surrender themselves to the Lord and embrace the calling to be handmaids. We come from different parts of the world, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Peru, Colombia, EE.UU, Chile Timor Leste, India, and Viet Nam, with different ages. We may be many at times, and few at other times, but we are always complete, i.e., no more, no less than how the Lord allows. Sometimes, Mother General and the council members go for their canonical visit to the various provinces in different times, or the Tertians go to their Retreat, or the sisters visit their family, or the aging sisters go to the hospital… Many movements in this house shape our hearts closer to the Sacred Heart.

This time of Easter, a season of joy, the Resurrected Christ with open arms welcome His children. We imitate His way too. We share our joy and peace to all those who come to us. Particularly, we welcome the mother of Sr. Elina, who came for her treatment. She was very at home with us, even joined us in community prayers, and made herself available in pottering. Her gentle smile and caring eyes permeate within and among us, creating a friendly and peaceful atmosphere. We also had the privilege of welcoming Sr. Reylyn and her family from the Philippines for several days to celebrate the 80th birthday of her mother. The mother was so emotional about seeing Saint Raphaela Mary with her own eyes, joyfully visiting Roma and full of gratitude to the community for the warm welcome, topped by a birthday cake surprise.

Moreover, mother and son came from Pakistan. And more special friends, a young lady and a young mom with a little child 4 years old came from Nigeria. They had a vulnerable situation, and we received them to be with us for some time. They joined us for meals and share their joy and hope, and of course their generosity to help us set the table and dry the plates afterward, they really feel at home!. Although they came from other religious beliefs, their presence made us see a wider horizon of our mission and made our hearts more universal. Although they spoke English and some of us do not, our warm encounter of listening and accepting presence made concrete the grace of synodality.

Here, along XX Settembre, stands a home where everyone can dwell and drink the fountain of love, a place to take a rest in God’s heart with Saint Raphaella. It is indeed a place of fraternity and friendship, a place of joy and sharing, a place of universal heart.

Teresa Thuy Tien, ACI