Sister M. Gervasina Potenza
Raffaela Potenza was born in Italy on November 15, 1933 in Rocca di Neto, a town in the province of Catanzaro in the Calabria region, the southernmost region of the Italian peninsula. At the age of 16, on July 18, 1949, she entered the Congregation of the Sister Disciples of the Divine Master in Rome. Ten years later she realized her great dream of “being a missionary“. Gervasina was sent to Brazil from 1960 to 1985 and then went to Chile where she remained until her death in 2022.
Both the Brazilian sisters and the Chilean sisters bear the following testimony of Sr Gervasina:
In 1959 Sister Maria Gervasina Potenza received from the Superior General, Mother Lucia Ricci, the invitation to be a missionary in Brazil. She testified that this was an underlying desire of hers since her decision to follow Jesus the Master in the Consecrated Life.
At the beginning of 1960 she arrived in São Paulo, where she found a confident community of sisters and young women in formation. Upon her arrival there was a formal moment of fraternal welcome. It began in the Chapel with the singing of the Magnificat. This happened each time a new vocation arrived.
The praiseworthy life of this Disciple was very vibrant because she herself radiated joy, purity and simplicity. Her youthful smile was constant, she was so happy to realize her missionary dream!
Very soon, this dear sister was integrated into our society, our culture and she learned the Brazilian language very quickly. With her cheerful, outgoing and enthusiastic way in carrying out apostolic initiatives, she inspired the young women in formation. She was a dynamic and hardworking woman, she dedicated herself intensely to the Centers of the Liturgical Apostolate: she was the driver always available for any need.
She competently traveled long distances, even from one state to another, such as Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro, Caxias do Sul and Curitiba. With great generosity she drove the crowded Volkswagen Kombi-bus, both carrying people and liturgical items or food for the communities that were growing. One memory of note was when five young people joined the novitiate in the Community of Via Vergueiro, in the Villa Mariana district. On the same day they were transferred to the future house of formation and apostolate. This was still to be completed and it as on a large plot of land located on the Raposo Tavares highway. Sister Gervasina, very excited, after having placed her luggage in the Volkswagen Kombi-bus, left happily on September 8, 1962 with the group of novices and their Novice Mistress, Mother Maria Cormarie Brugiolo.
This very dedicated sister was always available. She participated in the foundation of the first communities and in the apostolic initiatives that developed on Brazilian soil. It was palpable to see the great faith and the generous gift of the Italian sisters. They encouraged us and involved us in the dream of new productions: such as Ceramics, Screen Printing, the Liturgy Magazine, Liturgical Exhibitions, Vocation Animation, etc … In everything, Sister Gervasina was present with love and creativity and these characteristics were also evident in the communities of Curitiba and Rio de Janeiro, where she was Community Leader.
Despite the responsibilities and the total self giving of this sister, already with a Brazilian heart, we were surprised by the news of her transfer to the community of the Sister Disciples in Chile. We were encouraged by her who was able to say her generous “yes” once again. We accepted her departure from Brazil knowing that it was a call to serve the Church and the needs of the Congregation, so Sr. Gervasina made a huge leap in holiness and missionary zeal. On July 4, 1985 we said goodbye to our dear missionary, hoping that one day she would return to Brazil, but her definitive Easter was lived on Chilean soil in 2022.
To this dear sister we offer our immense gratitude… May she, “Seed of the Charism and of the prayerful and active mission“, intercede for all of us, in the fullness of the Beatitudes. For us Brazilian sisters remains the legacy of her strong witness of life and of all that she has built with us.
Remembering our beloved sister Sr. Gervasina Potenza…
In her knowledge and sharing of the mission, she enriched us. She conveyed love and dedication in everything she accomplished. She arrived to our Santiago Delegation in 1985, from Brazil; when she arrived she knew many words in Spanish, this surprised us and made us very happy and she immediately integrated into the Community well.
She soon adapted to our way of life and gave herself with joy and availability to our reality, always attentive, generous, available. In community life, she was always responsible, she loved peace, harmony and helped the young sisters very much. She was a good person with strong values: human, Christian, religious … as a Pious Disciple, she was loved by all: in the Chapel many of the faithful and our own relatives remember her with great affection. She always was a very warm and helpful sister, one with a deep interior life. She was always faithful and happy when she went to meet Jesus the Master in her time for Adoration with her blue mantle. She expressed herself in song and loved singing in Latin!
In the liturgical apostolate she was very generous, creative, and exact, she wanted the windows to be harmonious and beautiful. She used her big, generous hands as a unit of measurement! In the Liturgical centre, the priests esteemed her very much for her closeness and for the support she gave when they asked for suggestions, advice, and availability of religious articles (tabernacles, for example). To every query, she responded with wisdom transmitting all of her love and joy for the liturgy.
Years later at the Apostolic Centre of Concepción and Santiago, the priests ask for “Sister Chiquitita“. They did not remember her name, but they are very grateful for what they have received from her, remembering her with affection and gratitude. She was in love with the Carabinieri (police force) and called them “my brothers“, she prayed a lot for them, she said “they need to be remembered before Jesus and Mary, because they are always willing to help and are often in danger“.
On September 18, Chile’s independence day in 1979, he enjoyed watching the military parade on television. She served as a driver for 50 years in our Delegation, driving the Combi for apostolic or community needs, or to take us on holiday to the sea or the Cordillera. These were places she loved very much.
Sister Gervasina died in Santiago on November 11, 2022. As sisters of the Chile Delegation, we are immensely grateful for what was her presence among us, she had freely decided to remain close to us until her death. She was, for each one, a luminous Angel capable of accompanying us on the journey. We miss her physically, but we know we have gained a great intercessor in heaven.