Friday, February 3, 2012

Be Joyful! I Say It Again...'Be Joyful!': Blessed Giuseppina Nicoli

So I posted about the feast day of the Martyrs of Angers, not even realizing that the Daughters had two other feast days within a week - Blessed Giuseppina Nicoli today and Blessed Rosalie Rendu next week. I've already done a post on the life of Blessed Rosalie Rendu, one of my Daughter of Charity "favs", but Blessed Giuseppina Nicoli is even lesser known.

Sister Giuseppina was Italian, as you may have guessed already by her name. After becoming a Daughter of Charity, she spent most of her life ministering to the poor on the island Sardinia (yes, I had to look it up too) She became Sister Servant (the superior of the house) there and did something that may have been revolutionary in its time - she introduced the Sisters to the womens' prison. The Sisters then began to visit the incarcerated and minister to them. She organized the first youth group volunteers and taught catechism to the poor, illiterate and those without religious education.

A few years later, she was called to Turin (Italy) to serve as adminstrator of the province and then directress of the Seminary (noviciate), but soon the community realized that the climate of Turin wasn't doing well to her health and how attached Sardinia was to her and vice versa and sent her back there. Upon her return, she opened a School of Religion for young people and worked with sick infants and children. During World War I, she used her time to care for wounded soldiers.

But perhaps the greatest part of her reputation comes from her work with a group called Monelli di Maria, a group of orphaned, homeless, and abandoned children. Originally, these were just a group of street children that knocked on the Sisters' door asking for food, money, etc. Sister Giuseppina re-named this group something to the effect of "Mary's Street Kids" While she did make sure they went to Mass and were taught catechism, to Sister Giuseppina, serving them meant also serving Christ in the person of her neighbor. So she taught them how to read and write, as well as a trade that would give them a job and off the streets. By teaching them about God and His love for them, she also made them aware of their own dignity - they who had been denied an education because of their poverty, they who had been kicked out of their homes by their parents, they who had been orphaned, they who the world left behind.

Sister Giuseppina died in 1924 at the age of sixty one. Her last words were "Yes! Thank you!" That picture of Blessed Giuseppina Nicoli is probably one of my favorites of any Daughter of Charity in the cornette. She is so full of joy and energy in the picture - as if the photographer caught her at the end of a laugh. And when you think about all she was doing at the time of that picture - working with kids at the orphanage or school or working with the street kids - it really is amazing that she had all that joy and energy. Here's a pearl of wisdom she left us:
Joy is a great remedy. I recommend it to you and I do so very enthusiastically...! Be joyful! I say it again 'be joyful'! When we are joyful, we are less aware of evil and are cured more quickly. Cast all your cares on God; He is the best of fathers and will look after you as well as possible. (Blessed Giuseppina Nicoli)

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