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On the road to the General Chapter: the testimony of Sr. Idilia

Ever closer to the General Chapter, we share with you the testimony of one of the sisters chosen to participate in this synodal event for our Congregation: Sr. Idilia Maria Moreira G. Carneiro, Vicar Provincial of Portugal. Carneiro, Vicar Provincial of Portugal.

Sr. Idilia was born in Mozambique in 1966 and entered the Congregation in 1984. She has a degree in Social Work from the Higher Institute of Social and Political Sciences of Lisbon (1988–1993), a Master's degree in Spirituality and Ethics in Health (1997–2000) and a postgraduate degree in Human Resources Management (2004). Her hospital experience has been in the field of management and accompaniment of the hospital mission and in the animation of the Province and Communities.

In this testimony she shares her vocational story and her wishes for the next General Chapter.

Could you share with us your personal story and how you became a Hospitaller Sister?

My name is Sr. Idilia Carneiro, I am the fourth of 5 siblings, 3 of whom are Hospitaller Sisters. I was born and grew up in a family with very strong Catholic roots and experiences, which formed me as a person, in terms of my faith and, above all, where my consecrated vocation is based. The whole dynamic of the parish was also important, as part of the animation of youth groups and catechesis groups.

I learned from my parents the sense of active charity, the daily recitation of the rosary and special attention to the poor, which were some of the structuring principles of education in family life.

At the age of 16, I had my first contact with the Hospitaller mission and the life of the Hospitaller Sisters in Braga, participating in a weekend of activities for young people. I remember how difficult my first contact with the sick was, especially the most deeply ill, but little by little something opened up inside me and I began to feel that my life had another horizon that widened the more I gave myself.

Little by little, through the experience of serving the sick, the contact with the sisters and the greater knowledge of their life and their moments of prayer, in an attitude of listening and seeking their will, an experience of letting myself be captivated grew in me, with a growing desire to belong totally to God and to my brothers and sisters. And in particular that my life be an expression of full service to the sick, in whom I discover the God I love so alive and present. Getting to know the sisters and the dimensions of prayer, fraternity, communion and service was like a unique constellation that integrated the meaning of my life: to belong to God and to my brothers and sisters, serving and loving, in hospitality.

At the age of 18, I was admitted to the postulancy and began to walk the path of following Jesus. As an HSC, I feel that I am in Him, who is healing love and mercy in me. It is this love that consecrates me in the daily surrender of my life and in the search for God as the greatest treasure of my life.

How would you describe the charism of hospitality in one sentence?

The charism of hospitality is a gift of God's healing love at work in the world.

It is an experience of the Spirit that shapes my whole life as an HSC, following the compassionate and merciful Jesus, and sends me to practice hospitality with my suffering brothers and sisters. I am an apprentice of this Heart of God.

Could you share an experience or story in which you have witnessed how someone in the hospitaller family, through their work and presence, has been a prophetic sign of hope and has shown God's closeness to those who suffer?

It is not easy to identify a concrete situation, there are many. I would reinforce something that I think is very characteristic of me, which is the attention and listening to sick people, believing that they are people with potential, accepting situations of suffering that they have lived through and in that time of listening, letting hope resurface and recognizing themselves as persons....

How important it is to pay attention, to look, to listen to the delicate situations of life that so often block and narrow horizons, and in the simple fact of listening, letting in... people can rediscover a sense of hope, feel that they are not alone, and find strength for moments of great pain.

How would you describe the impact you have had on the communities you have served?

I am a Sister Hospitaller of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and, therefore, I have a deep desire that I nourish daily to follow the compassionate and merciful Jesus; the desire to focus my life on what is essential is basic to me and is something I share with the sisters and motivates us to live it in community; I believe I have walked beside them like a magnet, being close and attentive - the solicitude for fraternal and personal good; the witness to those we care for and to those who share the mission.

What is your wish for the next General Chapter?

May it be a time of the Spirit, a time of communion that generates a new springtime of hope for Hospitality, where as a Hospitaller Community we make a journey of discernment and commitment, in response to the voice of God and the human suffering of today, in fidelity to the founding spirit.

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