Mother M. Ancilla Belesso
I entered very young with very few social graces, and I was often upset because of my inadequacies and ignorance. I was formed among sisters who had much experience of daily life and the apostolate. These are the words that have always encouraged me. Now that I am the same age as my mistress, I am grateful for her profound faith and spirituality. I wish to share it with others who may benefit from it.
“Man is man!”
These words have always given me hope and humility in every situation. If I showed disappointment towards myself or my neighbor because of mistakes or negligence, they encouraged me to accept such weakness, to be a basis for ongoing growth.
When my family had many difficulties before my perpetual vows, I thought of abandoning my vocation for various human reasons. That period was for me something that strengthened my vocational weaknesses. It was also a time to reflect on what it meant to be a woman of God and on living as God’s instrument. I asked to have another year of preparation for perpetual vows. Finally, after this period, I pondered deeply and desired a life turned to heaven and not to this world. My mistresses words continue to live in my heart.
Mother M. Ancilla Belesso
“Everything from the manger!”
When the sisters first came as missionaries to Korea, the situation in Korea was very harsh. The pain of war had not yet passed, and everything was still being restored due to the chaos and ruins from the war. The society was reduced to bare survival.
In those days, there was no convent, no members, and no active apostolate as we see it today. To start from the poor stable of Nazareth, one needed a strong faith, sacrifice and love. Mother had said that the 25th anniversary of her vows that year was considered the saddest day of her life because of the difficulty in building the house of Jesus Master. To live and preach the gospel required only simplicity, trust, and kindness. However, as the number of members increased and the apostolate developed, we fully trusted Jesus Master, and he actively responded to this trust. When we needed Japan’s help for the apostolic works, they always responded generously, and I am ever grateful to her for entrusting me with the key to the medicine cabinet.
Once, when we had to pay the workers’ salary, she told me to go to the bank to withdraw everything without leaving a penny. However, I thought differently. In my opinion it would have been wise to leave a little money in the bank, just in case. I told her what I thought. Mother did not permit this and said: “The Lord gives to us only if we have nothing!” And I really experienced miracles.
Every time I entered her room, it was almost completely empty, as if she was about to leave. It was a servants attitude of welcoming God every time he visited.
There is still talk among us about the great poverty of the early days. Mother wanted to put flowers on the altar the day before Christmas, but we didn’t have a vase to place them in. Looking around in the convent, she finally found a white, round vase with paintings of flowers on it. She was so happy and grateful that she washed it, filled it with flowers, and placed it on the altar. But this pottery vase was not for flowers. It was a porcelain pot that in the ancient Korean culture served as a night-pot.
“I’m sorry. Being human is so weak.”
Only now can I imagine the difficulty Mother Ancilla had in the early days with the young women in formation. She had a scarce knowledge of the language, and she was not able to communicate well. Her strong personality and health problems, with diabetes, must also have been a cause of difficulties. Occasionally she was very touchy because of the way we acted and our lack of understanding. The sisters who encountered these situations spent the day enveloped in sadness. But before going to bed the Mother always went to them, touched their hands, and said: “I’m sorry. It’s not because I don’t love you, but it’s because of my fiery character and I am lacking in patience.” Gently caressing the sisters, she would say, “I’m human, I’m not good enough.” She asked for forgiveness and was reconciled. As a superior she had the approach to ask forgiveness from the sisters especially the younger women. It was a great gospel lesson of humility and faith for all of us.
In 2003, Mother Ancilla, accompanied by Sister M. Giliana Mason, returned to Italy and, after visiting family, settled in Sanfrè where, after living the apostolate of suffering, aged and ill, she reached heaven on 1 September 2014.