Pope Francis proclaimed a Year of Consecrated Life that began the first Sunday in Advent and will conclude Feb. 2, 2016. Based on aims and expectations the pope identified for this designated year, The Catholic Messenger asked members of religious communities in the Davenport Diocese to share their reflections. We launch our series during National Catholic Sisters Week, March 8-14, with reflections from Sister Mary Penelope Wink, CHM, who ministers in Chiapas, Mexico:
• In what ways do you look to the past with gratitude? I have a super-rich past with the CHMs to be grateful for, for the people I have worked for/with, shared faith with and learned from, for my experiences of team work, co-responsibility, for life.
• How do you believe you are being called to live the present with passion? Constructing processes that lead us to live more fully “the Reign of God is here,” according to the needs of the people I serve; participation in CHM commissions and giving service, albeit from afar, to the community.
• In what ways are you embracing the future with hope? Building parish attitudes, practices, etc., that gives life to all and hopefully will go on into the future; seeing the present with its history projected into more life-giving forms in the future.
• How does your community demonstrate joyfulness? In its hospitality, in being faithful in a world with other values.
• How do you respond to the call of this year to wake up the world? I have talked about my experience of more than 50 years in the congregation but I still haven’t given this enough thought. Ask me in 6 months.
• How is your community an expert in communion? We are a very varied group, with lots of different talents and with different opinions and we love to see one another.
• In what ways does your community go to the existential peripheries? Many sisters, both active and “retired,” give services to those in need. The CHM presence in Davenport is an example as well as sisters involved in helping Haiti; Mississippi; Des Moines, Iowa; Montana; etc., in practically all parts where we are. We have sisters very aware and involved in social issues that need our attention and they communicate that.
• What is it that God and people today are asking of religious? To be part of the “anawim” (people who live on the periphery) of today, faithfully present and saying what needs to be said. “Being with” others; sharing our charism with the laity who wish to be part of us.
Sister Mary Penelope Wink, CHM
What year did you enter the CHM community? 1960
What inspired you to join the community? I had already felt the call to be a sister but didn’t find an order/congregation that I could feel at home with. The simplicity of two sisters who were studying theology at the university where I had a work/study scholarship was what did it. I served tables and they were so understanding, not demanding and always grateful. They stood out for that in my eyes.
What ministries were/are you engaged in? I have taught, accompanied unwed mothers, served as coordinator of the (CHM) formation and associate programs, and done pastoral work in the Diocese of San Cristóbal de Las Casas (Chiapas, México).
What is your favorite form of prayer? Contemplation and taking time to be grateful for the small things in life.
What is your favorite Scripture? Micah 6,8 and the Magnificat in Luke
Who is your spiritual mentor? Jesus and Mary, of course. Many of our sisters, some of whom are no longer physically present to us but their spirit is alive, Mons. Romero, Mons. Samuel Ruiz, many of the faithful poor I have worked with.