Twelve months ago, none of us could have imagined what the coming New Year held in store for each one of us as the Covid-19 pandemic unfolded leaving no one unaffected. We have been challenged on so many levels: medical, psychological, spiritual, personal, social, ethical, institutional and so on.
During her long stay in Rome, from 1913 to 1919, Venerable Suzanne Aubert was surely aware of similar challenges, as much of the world was torn apart by war and its dreadful consequences. In recent times, I have been reflecting on her response, as her reason for going to Rome – papal approval for the Daughters of Our Lady of Compassion – was intermingled with events beyond her control. A major earthquake north of Rome and the need to treat the injured stimulated her fundamental nursing vocation; it continued to flourish among the war wounded. Quiet prayer in the Church of Ara Coeli, writing Constitutions for the Sisters, maintaining contact with the Roman Congregation and authorities, putting her case to the pope directly on occasion, were all integral to her time in Rome. Her faith in a loving God whom she continued to thank “for all He has done for us and continues to do” was truly heroic; so too, was her hope that her original reason for visiting Rome would be recognised; her charity was something “people of all religions and none” could experience and be grateful for. For all this, Meri Hōhepa deserves to be canonised, to say nothing of her life before Rome!
Naturally, we all feel impatient that she has not yet been canonised. As we wait for this to happen, perhaps Suzanne would have us trust in God’s providence; responding to needs and opportunities around us, learning from her faith and patience, with hope and love.