How do you prepare yourself for the end of something great? And how do you possibly say goodbye to people and places that have shown you warm hospitality with great love? These questions have preoccupied my mind for the last few days as the end of my study abroad experience rapidly approaches. And although I do not have answers for them, I continue to ask myself these questions over and over again, especially today. Today was the first of many “lasts” and “goodbyes” that will happen over the next few days, as I get ready to leave Rome.
Today I walked into my internship for my last full day there, and I carried with me a deep and heavy sadness. As an intern at Casa Famiglia, I have had the pleasure of getting to know all of the girls in this group home, both individually and collectively. And in a very short time, these girls have become my teachers; they have taught me to love with an undivided heart and to laugh with no restrain. Their resilience inspires me and reassures me that regardless of the burdens they carry (and will carry), they are going to be okay. These young girls have become my little sisters; I worry and think about them often. They welcomed me into their family and gave me another place in Rome to call home and for this I am forever in their debt. However, I do not know if my being there was in anyway a positive experience for them. But part of what I have learned through this experience is that you do not always know how and to what extent you impact a person’s life. All you can do is be present and available, and hope that the rest will take care of itself.
There is no question that these girls have touched my life in profound ways. However, my biggest teacher at Casa Famiglia is without a doubt my supervisor, Suor Franceschina. In the last four months, I have watched Suor Franceschina be a mother and a father to each and every one of the girls at Casa Famiglia. I have seen her stop whatever she may have been doing at the moment to give her undivided attention to whoever was in need of it. When she speaks with one of the girls the rest of the world seems to cease to exist. She makes every person feel cared for and loved simply by listening to and acknowledging them. By her example, Suor Franceschina has shown me that faith in action simply means to love fully and deeply. It was quite literally an honor to be in her presence and to watch her minister to others on a weekly basis.
Today I played volleyball with the girls, and as you probably guessed, we laughed so much about the silliest things. Later in the day, I bought them ice cream and then took them to the nearby park for a little while. Regardless of what a good time I was having, the minutes did not stop themselves from flying by, and thus, pretty soon it became time to go. But I was not ready.
But now it has ended. I am already beginning to miss the girls. Interning at Casa Famiglia has given me such a great insight into Italian culture and society. It has been one of the best, if not the best, part of my studying abroad experience. I am still carrying a heavy sadness with me at the thought of this being over, but I will remember my time at Casa Famiglia with great joy and gratitude. It has made me a better person and it has so profoundly changed the way I will engage in ministry from here on out. I think it is safe to say that what I learned at Casa Famiglia will be with me always, both professionally and personally.
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">My name is Natalie Maria Reynoso and I am currently a junior at Wheaton College, Norton, MA where I study religion and psychology. I am a passionate Catholic and an avid reader and writer. I have always loved writing because it provides me with a way to better understand the world and my place in it.</span></p>