I am Maria Goretti, a Sister of the Congregation of the Holy Family of Nazareth. I come from Poland but now I work as a translator in my Congregation here in Rome. I do not speak Italian well yet so please forgive me my mistakes.
Our visits to CAS (Extraordinary Reception Center) are a recent experience, which we started as a group of Sisters last August 2nd. I wanted very much to do something helpful with regard to the problem of trafficking and I really found here the right place for me. It is nice to meet up halfway with the other Sisters every Friday afternoon, and all together go to these girls who are victims of violence or come from various difficult situations. Sisters with different charisms, Institutes with diverse purposes, different ethnic groups, languages and different colored habits. But we share the desire to do something concrete in order to be close to these girls.
More than being a ministry to the girls, it is a lesson for me. I remember my imaginings about the ministry before I started it. My head was full of ideas - good ideas, wonderful ideas, I thought - ideas on how to help, what "great things" to do for them. One day I was supposed to start a mini basic English course for them. I distributed some texts and I wanted to discuss them. But no one answered my questions. I did not know why. After a few minutes, one of them told me: "Stop asking stupid questions! We cannot read. You, Sister, are an English teacher. First, teach us how to read and write. "I was shocked. Reading and writing - the things that are so obvious to us were not obvious to them.
It was a humbling experience for me. I learned that I am there not to realize my ideas or projects, even if they look good. We are there not to be FOR them but to be WITH them, TOGETHER with them. My first task is to listen to their needs, to listen to their hearts.
So I try to listen. During another meeting, we had a very pleasant conversation. The girls were talking about their biggest dreams. What could be their biggest dream? Money? Work? Home? Family? Or maybe happiness? No... The vast majority of them said: My biggest dream is to be better in the future. Not a better future! But I want to be better in the future! Why? Because they feel so unworthy, unnecessary, unwanted... These girls want to be better. But they are good! Lost, abandoned, hurt, lonely... But they are good, beautiful!
Once we asked one of the girls to end our meeting with a prayer. We were all standing in a circle and she said a spontaneous prayer: Good God, our Father, thank you that we can be here together and pray together, thank you for our sisters, for their welcome and acceptance of who we are, thank you for their time which they offer to us every week, thank you that they listen to our pains and sorrows, that they want to share our joys and our dreams, thank you that they show us, remind us that we are loved...
I believe that this girl described our mission perfectly in only few words: first, to pray for them and with them, to be present, to accept who they are, to meet them where they are, to listen to their joys and their sorrows. Truly, we have nothing to give, we can only be with them and allow God to love them through us.