Today is the International Day of Human Fraternity, a day recognizing the importance of embracing others of different races, cultures, religions, and castes. It began in early 2019 with Pope Francis and Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmad Al-Tayyeb drafting the “Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together” in response to growing discourse between people worldwide. The document sparked the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity, which was comprised of international religious leaders, cultural leaders, and scholars, all seeking peace and promoting unity on an internationl scale. Within one year, the United Nations proclaimed February 4 to be the International Day of Human Fraternity, encouraging all of us to strive to live peacefully and in community with everyone we encounter, regardless of things that may separate us.
This day is very “on brand” for the Sisters of Bon Secours and their ministries, like the Retreat and Conference Center. The mission of the Center is to be “good help to those in need” and to provide “healing hospitality”. Each day, we attempt to be a welcoming and loving space for each person that arrives at our doors.
In preparation for the 200th anniversary of the Sisters of Bon Secours, the Sisters compiled a variety of prayers that express their dedication to ministry and service. Below is one specifically written for the 2nd Mother Superior, Angelique Geay (a meeting room is named in her honor) and it truly speaks to this special day of Human Fraternity.
Prayer in honor of Angelique Geay
Second Superior General (1846 -1860)
“A compassionate, gentle and kind woman.”
Fill Me With Compassion, Lord
A compassion that arouses steady feelings; discomfort when facing the pain of others,
which moves me to move, to fight, to believe, to love.
Impatience for what can be done; a cry that, though tearless, shares the wounds and seeks healing.
Do not let me live blind, deaf and oblivious of the lives of others.
A compassion that complicates life
Compassion will complicate my life, I know…
If it goes beyond a fleeting feeling; if it leads me to think, to feel, to change, to seek, to love.
I suspect it will lead me to a restless life…
But, would I want to sit still,
Take refuge in ignorance, cling to security?
Complicate my life, Lord, with the lives of my brothers.
A compassion that enriches
Because I know that the shared work, the work in common,
the fight for others and with others,
the gesture of tenderness,
the search for what is good for everyone,
the outstretched hand to give and receive,
All this makes life germinate inside me,
Your Gospel and a light that makes the world and also my world,
a better and more delicate place.