She is not a household name in the world or even in her native Italy. But she is well known by the homeless of Turin, Italy. Her story is a fascinating insight into what makes her an advocate for the homeless tick.
Sister Cristina Conti DC, Service coordinator of “La Carità di Santa Luisa,” known as “Charité,” at the 24 Nizza street in Turin. Many volunteers work at the day Centre for and with homeless people, among them Daughters of Charity.
One of the quotes that caught my eye…
Homeless people exist. Calling them by their name is a question of humanity and fraternity, recognizing them with an ID and personal documents means building a healthy, united, open and creative society.
Without residency there are no real opportunities for civic, social or cultural promotion.
Residency could be the hand offered to restart their journey.
She was recently asked, “How do you view homeless people and what do they represent?”
The homeless are people whom I profoundly care about. I care about each one of them, with their face and their story and their feelings. Each one of them is the Lord who comes to have an encounter with me.
I, however, must allow this encounter to take place. The Lord looks at me with his eyes and speaks to me with his words. Each one of these individuals is the love of my life, unexpected, demanding, bothersome and at times, seemingly inhuman.
These encounters always make me question myself. I have learned much from these men and women. I love to call them by name, to listen to them, to bring them to my prayer and to reflect upon them.
When asked what Saint Vincent de Paul words “affective and effective charity” mean to her. Her response reveals the roots of her beliefs and action
I am a Daughter of Charity because I believe in the love of God, a love that is fully revealed in humanity (the true and deep humanity of Christ expressed in all).
So, humankind must never be separated from action. Humankind must never be separated from the person who welcomes and is welcomed, must never be separated from the problem and from the search for its solution.
We are made of dreams and needs, of feeling and of flesh … of “the same flesh” (Isaiah 58). We are fragile and yet have convictions and are able to engage in activity. We are able to open our hearts to God, able to touch one another’s hearts and while this can be a hard and painful journey… yet what a joy when we conclude the journey.
Saint Vincent said that he could not love God if his neighbor did not also love him, which today could perhaps be translated for everyone: “No one can experience the true beauty of life with relating to others, without having real faces to love” (Fratelli Tutti, #87).
There is much food for our personal nourishment in her words.
Some further thoughts?
- Which of her thoughts reached into your consciousness?
- Can you articulate why you do what you do?