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Remembering our beginnings in Livorno, Italy…

Shrine of Our Lady of Montenero.
In October 1981, Maeve Shannon fcJ  was asked to accompany a group of eight young  Sisters, being sent to Rome for further studies, (in the group were Christine Anderson, Marguerite Goddard, Ruth Casey, Christine Grace, Ita Connery, Rita McLoughlin, Philomena Fitzgerald (RIP) and Marie-Geneviève Renaud.)

Sr Maeve writes: ‘Our train journey took us along the coast to the port of Livorno (Leghorn), where more than a century and half earlier, our foundress, Marie Madeleine d’Houët  and her companion had disembarked en route to Rome.  During her brief visit  Marie Madeleine visited the shrine of Our Lady of Montenero in gratitude for a safe passage and to entrust to Mary the object of their journey: the approval of our Constitutions.

Port of Livorno (Leghorn).The day of our passage through Livorno was very hot and  as we looked out of the train at Livorno station,  we noticed a stately figure in ecclesial garb, obviously on his way to Rome too.  The prelate, (who we were to learn was Monsignor Alberto Ablondi, Bishop of Livorno) entered one of the compartments where we were sitting and proceeded to say his office. However, after a while, he closed his book and asked us in English, who we were and where we were going. He told us a little about himself and his interest in Evangelization and Ecumenism.  He wanted to know all about our Society and said how he was praying that God would send him a group of sisters for the Shrine of Santa Giulia in Livorno, which he was about to re-open.

On hearing that the Regional Superior was in the next compartment, he spoke with her and asked for further details on the Society’s charism and mission as well as the name of our General Superior with whom he wished to communicate.  When we parted in Rome, he asked that we join him in praying that one day our Society might come to Livorno and help him in his difficult mission. We confided our intention  to Our Blessed Lady two days later, on the feast of the Holy Rosary, when we were privileged to be present at the Wednesday papal audience. It was  Pope John-Paul II’s  first public appearance after  the near-fatal shooting of May 13 1981. 

Parish of Santa Giulia.We later heard that Monsignor Ablondi had communicated with our General Superior and was then invited to our General Chapter in Rome in the Spring of 1983.  That year, the first  FCJ Sisters were missioned to Livorno to the Parish of Santa Giulia, to help rekindle devotion to the Blessed Sacrament in the Church of their well-loved patron. The sisters  were  also entrusted with Catechetics in the nearby Cathedral Parish and spiritual animation in a home for the elderly.

More than twenty-five years later, FCJs are still ministering in Livorno, as a result of this first invitation from our dear friend Monsignor Ablondi,  now in retirement in his adopted city.

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Nuestra pequeña Sociedad tiene como fin
     glorificar el corazón de Jesús
           por todos los medios a su alcance…     (Marie Madeleine)