Mother of peoples
We arrived in Turkey on 21 September 1994 at the request of the Bishop, Mons. Ruggero Franceschini, Apostolic Vicar of Anatolia who took charge in October 1993, after 400 years of absence of a Bishop. Sister Elda Canesso, then Mother General, moved by the Bishop's statement: In the Holy Land of the Church, who, could be if not the Daughters of the Church! Decided to send three Sisters to Tarsus. Our Charism: "To know, to love, to serve the Church, make her known and loved” is perfectly realized in this Holy Land of the Church, as we read in the Acts of the Apostles.
What kind of presence is ours?
To say what 'we do' in Tarsus, a completely Islamic city, is not easy. We welcome pilgrims who "pass" through Paul's footsteps, give them a chance to celebrate the Holy Mass in the church-museum and offer them light refreshment in a hall adjacent to the church.No other type of activity can we do at Tarsus, but we know and we really believe that here "our mission is not “to do"; but “to be”.
It is indeed a "mission of Presence". We wish to be a prayerful, silent, smiling, joyful presence: the presence of the 'watchman waiting for the dawn', adoring presence beside the only tabernacle at Tarsus, next to the little flame that shines for Jesus in this city of 230,000 inhabitants…Without the presence of the Daughters of the Church, this little lamp would no more be there, and then Tarsus would be completely in the dark. Here lies the significance of our presence in Tarsus!When there are no groups, we go to attend Mass in the Parish of the Capuchin Fathers at Mersin, a city that is 60 km from Tarsus and collaborate in the pastoral care, encouraging and supporting the few Christians, and being close to the Christian refugees from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.
For more than ten years through the “distance adoption scheme”, we have been supporting the families without distinction of race, language, culture and creed, so that their children can be educated and treated when they are ill. We consider them our "little Jesus", love them, and want them to be loved. Our "stay" in Turkey is an expression of joyful gratitude for this "land of the Church". Here Peter's exhortations, the fiery words of Paul and the love message of John sound true. Here we can contemplate the silent presence of Mary, listen to her heartbeat, experience the joy of the total gift of oneself, here in this land where she lived with John, with profound love, in the heart of the first Church (Ephesus 431).
Here we relive the zeal of the martyrs, the active dedication of the great Fathers of the Church. We cannot cease to work for this land; let the dusty and forgotten stones of this land speak to us ... let us remember, it is here that for the first time we were called Christians...Here, in solitude we met a living PRESENCE. We would like to "stay here" with Him, with the Church and for the Church, in prayer and humble service, with no gratification ... as "a seed that dies, to become fruitful".