Eusebia Palomino Yenes was born on 15 December 1899 in Cantalpino, Spain, one of four children to Agustin Palomino and Juana Yenes. Her father worked as a seasonal farmhand, and during winter months when there was no work, he was forced to travel to nearby villages to beg for food, with the little Eusebia at his side. Overjoyed to be in her father’s company, she was too young to understand his humiliation in asking for “a loaf of bread, for the love of God”.
When Eusebia was 8 years old, she made her first “encounter” with Jesus in the Eucharist and felt called to belong forever and completely to him. A short time later, she was forced to leave school and work to help the family.
Although she was young, she showed unusual maturity in caring for other young children, and when she was 12 she went to Salamanca with her older sister and worked as a nanny. Her love for God continued to grow and was expressed so well through the care she gave to the children.
Daughters of Mary
Every Sunday afternoon, Eusebia went to the Oratory at the “Sancti Spiritus” School run by the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians; here she got to know the Sisters. Noting her maturity and responsibility, they asked if she could volunteer her time to help them.
She was immediately available to begin her “mission” and helped the Sisters in the kitchen, collecting firewood, cleaning the school, accompanying the students and running errands. She was always ready to “give a hand” and to transmit a joyful and simple spirit of service to those around her.
“Something deeper’ in Eusebia
The students perceived that in Eusebia there was “something deeper” behind her habitual smile and simple way, and they found “excuses” to be with her, receiving counsel and comfort through her words and by her presence. But more than words, it was her life and simple way that spoke to the girls.
Although Eusebia’s secret desire was to become a “Daughter of Mary”, she did not ask to enter the Congregation because she was afraid she would be refused due to lack of money, resources and education.
She hoped, however, that “if I carry out well my duties here, for love of the Blessed Virgin, one day I will be her daughter in the Congregation”. She confided this desire on one occasion to a visiting superior, who told her to “worry about nothing”. In name of the Mother General, she accepted Eusebia.
On 5 August 1922 Eusebia began her novitiate and made her religious profession two years later, when she was transferred to the house of Valverde del Camino in southwestern Spain.
Not up to expectations
Upon her arrival the first day, she was openly derided by the youngsters of the school and oratory: she was “little, pale and ugly, with hands that are too big… plus, she has a dumb name”, and obviously not what they expected.
Sr Eusebia, however, who felt like a “queen” living forever in the mansion of Jesus her King, remained indifferent to the unkind remarks. She began the next day to “roll up her sleeves” and to carry out her assigned duties: the kitchen, the laundry, answering the door, working in the garden and keeping company with the children at the oratory.
It was not long before the children were “taken up” by the stories she would tell them of the lives of the saints and of missionaries as well as anecdotes of St John Bosco; Sr Eusebia had an excellent memory and the gift of storytelling. Little by little, those who at first had judged and criticized her felt that there was something truly special about the nun and that she really cared about them.
Even outside of the oratory, the parents of the children, other adults and youth, seminarians and even priests sought out her “spiritual counsel”. Although Sr Eusebia had no education in theological doctrine, her heart was full of God’s wisdom and she made time for everyone.
Victim for the salvation of Spain
In the beginning of the 1930s, tensions and persecutions against the Catholic Church began in Spain, and Sr Eusebia once again made herself “available” to help. This time, she offered herself as a victim to God for the salvation of Spain.
Her offer was accepted and in August 1932 a mysterious illness struck her. Doctors were unable to diagnose this disease which was causing the limbs of her body to wind up, turning her into a “ball of yarn”. Her asthma, which had always been “mild”, had now worsened and added to her suffering.
Although the pain was excruciating, Sr Eusebia was always a gentle channel of joy and peace, treating those around her with great respect and appreciating those who took care of her.
Sr Eusebia died on 10 February 1935.
The echo of voices of the townspeople of Valverde could be heard following her departure: “A saint has died”.
Homily of John Paul II
For many years, Josephine Bakhita was a slave but her spirit was always free and eventually that spirit prevailed.
Born in Olgossa in the Darfur region of southern Sudan, Josephine was kidnapped at the age of seven, sold into slavery and given the name Bakhita, which means fortunate. She was re-sold several times, finally in 1883 to Callisto Legnani, Italian consul in Khartoum, Sudan.
Two years later he took Josephine to Italy and gave her to his friend Augusto Michieli. Bakhita became babysitter to Mimmina Michieli, whom she accompanied to Venice’s Institute of the Catechumens, run by the Canossian Sisters. While Mimmina was being instructed, Josephine felt drawn to the Catholic Church. She was baptized and confirmed in 1890, taking the name Josephine.
When the Michielis returned from Africa and wanted to take Mimmina and Josephine back with them, the future saint refused to go. During the ensuing court case, the Canossian sisters and the patriarch of Venice intervened on Josephine’s behalf. The judge concluded that since slavery was illegal in Italy, she had actually been free since 1885.
Josephine entered the Institute of St. Magdalene of Canossa in 1893 and made her profession three years later. In 1902, she was transferred to the city of Schio (northeast of Verona), where she assisted her religious community through cooking, sewing, embroidery and welcoming visitors at the door. She soon became well loved by the children attending the sisters’ school and the local citizens. She once said, “Be good, love the Lord, pray for those who do not know Him. What a great grace it is to know God!”
The first steps toward her beatification began in 1959. She was beatified in 1992 and canonized eight years later.
Josephine’s body was mutilated by those who enslaved her, but they could not touch her inner spirit. Her Baptism set her on an eventual path toward asserting her civic freedom and then service to God’s people as a Canossian sister.
She who worked under many “masters” was finally happy to address God as “master” and carry out everything that she believed to be God’s will for her.
During his homily at her canonization Mass in St. Peter’s Square, Pope John Paul II said that in St. Josephine Bakhita, “We find a shining advocate of genuine emancipation. The history of her life inspires not passive acceptance but the firm resolve to work effectively to free girls and women from oppression and violence, and to return them to their dignity in the full exercise of their rights.”
JOVENES MISIONEROS CELEBRAN A DON BOSCO ENTRE
ORACIÓN, TRABAJO Y ALEGRÍA
Por: Sor Ana Cristina Chavira Sáenz. FMA
El pasado fin de semana, sábado 30 y domingo 31 de Enero, los adolescentes y jóvenes del Movimiento Juvenil Salesiano, pertenecientes al grupo JUMS: Juventud Misionera Salesiana, de la región Noreste de México, celebramos a nuestro Padre Don Bosco viviendo con intensidad la fórmula de la santidad propuesta por Don Bosco: ORACIÓN, TRABAJO Y ALEGRÍA.
Nos reunimos en la Casa Inspectorial de México Norte, desde el sábado a las 4:00 pm iniciamos nuestro encuentro con algunos juegos salesianos, una oración y arrancamos con un taller de Catequesis, que pretende formar a los muchachos como agentes de evangelización para otros jóvenes, especialmente durante la Semana Santa, donde prestan sus servicio como misioneros en comunidades rurales y en pascuas juveniles.
Por la noche, después de cenar, tuvimos un encuentro profundo con Jesús Eucaristía en un momento de adoración al Santísimo Sacramento, durante este momento los jóvenes le pidieron un regalo a Don Bosco y también le ofrecieron otro regalo con motivo de su día.
Después tuvimos un grato momento de fiesta, entre cantos, bailes, juegos, pastel. Los jóvenes junto con las sores que los acompañamos vivimos llenos de gozo nuestra fraternidad y nuestra alegría por ser parte de la familia de Don Bosco.
Al día siguiente continuamos nuestro trabajo con el segundo taller: Liturgia para misioneros, este segundo taller tuvo como objetivo preparar a los misioneros para desempeñar mejor su servicio en los actos litúrgicos propios de la Semana Santa, captando su sentido más profundo, a fin de ayudar a otros jóvenes y a las comunidades a encontrarse con Dios a través de la liturgia bien preparada, celebrada y vivida.
Al concluir con nuestro segundo taller, nos unimos a la celebración de Don Bosco en el Oratorio de nuestros hermanos salesianos, compartiendo con la comunidad y con otros jóvenes la celebración de la Fiesta de San Juan Bosco, a esta celebración se unieron algunas de las familias de nuestros jóvenes misioneros en un clima muy cercano, alegre, juvenil, 100% salesiano.
Fue una experiencia muy bella. Don Bosco sin duda, estará feliz de ver a sus jóvenes, alegres en el servicio de Dios, felices en el tiempo, caminando hacia la santidad.
NOTA: Si alguien quiere ver más fotografías, puede dar click este link:
This was a joint activity planned for youth formation by both FMA and SDB in Kenya. The planning for the event had started at the end of December in the year 2014. The forum was aimed at forming youth who are mainly playing leadership roles in their Salesian centers. Thus the young people who attended came from various FMA and SDB youth centers and school s and all communities were well represented.
WHEN FROM 14TH TO 20TH DECEMBER
VENUE : AT SDB COMMUNITY- AND FMA COMMUNITY -EMBU
THEME: HAPPY ARE THE PURE IN HEART ( MT. 5:8)
The theme was selected to give the young people an opportunity to reflect in a deeper way on the theme of the year 2015 as proposed by the Holy Father in preparation for the 2016 world youth day. Being at the end of the year the forum was also to usher in the year of preparation of the forth coming world youth day “ Blessed are the merciful …God will show them Mercy”
The theme for the SYM Forum HAPPY ARE THE PURE IN HEART was further subdivided into daily sub-themes to help the young people reflect on various ‘PURITIES’ that constitute purity of heart. The subthemes were as follows:
15th December– Purity of Heart , through various moments of the day, namely prayers, inputs , and group work young people engaged on reflections on the ‘heart’ being the aspect that influences a lot of our behavior and attitude. Hence the call and the challenge to cultivate and maintain a pure heart for the purpose of remaining pure.
16th December – purity of Body: the young people reflected on the importance of maintaining the cleanliness and purity of their bodies as way towards maintaining purity of heart . They were led to realize that there is a significance relationship between purity of heart and purity of Body.
17th December– Purity of Mind: the day was spent in helping the youth to reflect on how the various senses that God has given us contribute towards feeding and influencing our minds. The sub theme challenged them to make choices of engaging their senses in feeding the mind with pure ‘inputs’ if they want to experience purity of heart. In this they were challenged to be more critical in their use of the modern social media.
On this day the young people were also privileged to have a short visit by Sr Gisele Ndekezi , the AFE FMA provincial who congratulated them for their commitment shown through the attendance of the Forum. She encouraged them and gave them a short input them inviting them to live well the year of mercy as the as the church has invited all the faithful to do.
18th December – Pathways to Holiness: On this day the young people were guided to recognize various helps that God has placed in our path of life in order to help us to achieve the happiness of purity of heart which is holiness. Examples of Such paths were identified as prayers, sacramental life, reading and reflections on the word of God.
19th December – Reconciliation and conversion: The young were engaged in a pilgrimage of climbing a hill in Siakago Parish (our FMA community). At the hill they had input on repentance and the experience of Exodus since during the hill climbing some lost the guides and got lost, while others arrived at the wrong destinations. At the Parish the youth had the opportunity to celebrate the sacraments of confession and Eucharist.
20th December – Go Forth: Bear Fruits That Will Last : on this day the youth had a commissioning and closing mass in which the young people were sent to go forth and lead other young people to be disciples of Christ. The Eucharistic celebration was presided over by Fr Gianni Roland the AFE SDB provincial who availed himself to visit and speak to the youth as well as to close the Forum. During the closing Eucharist celebration, the young people were each given a candle and a certificate of participation to remind them of their call to be Christ’s Light to the other young people in their local centers.
Daily programs consisted of various moments that enabled the young to experience Salesian Spirituality in its various characteristics. The days normally began with the
Morning prayer in groups
Input by various facilitators
Afternoon session were usually dedicated to activities like
Rosary and quiet time / adoration
Good night and retirement
The young people spent all these moment throughout the Forum with a lot of enthusiasm and dedication
The young people participated and responded well to the moments of prayer especially the adoration and Eucharistic celebration. They lived a quality period of prayer, sharing, entertainment, dancing and enrichment in their Christian life.
Thus what remains is the challenge of them and us continuing to bear the good fruits of good seeds sown during the SYM Forum. We keep them in prayers and we continue to accompany them in their local centers.