Pope Francis is calling on Catholics to choose how they can make a difference for others, says the leader of a group of 600,000 Catholic sisters and nuns around the world. Sr Carmen Sammut said the Pope is giving the world 'great hope.'
- NCR Online
What was your feeling when you were elected UISG president? What was your immediate hope or desire?
Sammut: I don't know if I had any hope or desire. My first thing was I went blank -- it was like I was put in a freezer. I think I started having hopes and desires when we met for the first time -- the 10 of us, the executive committee -- to see that we were coming from the five continents, that we were very different, that we had very different backgrounds and experiences of religious life.
Kind of together, we started hoping that we could do something new, that we could help in some ways the other religious to implement what had been said during the assembly, to move forward. So some of our hopes are that we might set up better communication with the constellations. The UISG is divided into constellations according to different countries. So we hope that there can be more communication between us so that we can see how to move forward the idea of religious life for today.
I know that after the assembly, your group also came up with a guiding document, called a mission orientation. Was there something in that that inspired you the most or that you most want to work on as president?
The orientations all came out from what we had discussed. And the discussion was about 'It shall not be so among you,' a type of leadership that is more service. For me, what I have seen in reading over and over these orientations is that they concentrate on what is very important: that religious life is like what the pope told us, that it is an 'exodus.'
I felt that he was summarizing somehow those orientations. It's an exodus: Always going out of one's self, out of the ego, toward God and the other. And those two cannot be separated. I felt, yes, we are all on this religious meeting to listen to what the spirit is telling us today, not continuing always to think that we are yesterday. The spirit is always asking us to adapt, to change, transform ourselves so as to answer the calls of today, the calls of those who suffer today.
I see that in different angles. I see those who are the poor, those who are excluded, the migrants, but also culturally, those who are different than us culturally. I cannot help but think of that because I have been most of my life living with Muslims, different from us because of religion. It's always to go to those who we would not normally go. That is one of the things that religious life is about: to meet those we would not by nature meet. By nature, we try to meet those who are like us. By vocation, I think, we are to go towards those who are not like us, who are other.