Sr. M. Venerina (Michelina) Vaccarisi
“If they offered me the entire world, with all its gold and precious stones, I would not exchange it for my Jesus!”
Sr. M. Venerina Vaccarisi was one of the sisters who founded the mission of the Sister Disciples in Brazil. Her life of self-giving is a witness for the Pious Disciples of Brazil, for the Friends of Jesus the Master and for everyone who knew her.
In memory of the wonders that the Lord God has worked throughout the history of the Sister Disciples, the Province of Brazil gives thanks for this great gift.
Sr. M. Venerina was born on December 19, 1928 in Avola, Syracuse, Italy. She was the daughter of Gaspare Vaccarisi and Rosaria Coletta. She was from a family of 4 brothers and 5 sisters. Her sister was Sister M. Rosaria Vaccarisi. She was also a Pious Disciple and belonged to the Italian Province.
Michelina entered the Congregation of the Sister Disciples of the Divine Master on 24 January 1948 in Catania. Her first profession was on March 25, 1951 at the Mother House in Alba, Italy. She was then sent as a missionary to Brazil by the Founder, Blessed Giacomo Alberione. On July 26, 1956 she began the foundation in Brazil, with other sisters: Sr. M. Salvatoris Lucia Rosa, Sr. M. Modesta Santina Grotto, Sr. M. Giancarla Caterina Barale, Sr. M. Pasquina Romano, Sr. M. Fabiana Giuseppa Lucido and Sr. M. Paolina Margherita De Luca.
Sr. M. Venerina was deeply appreciated by the sisters and collaborators for her dynamic commitment to the mission. At the age of 90, she began her struggle against esophageal cancer. Until then, she was very active in her day to day apostolate in the community of Cabreúva/SP, Brazil. She was punctual and very faithful to the Eucharistic Adoration. Each day, at 8 a.m., she went to the chapel to spend time with the Lord.
As a missionary in Brazil, she always communicated the person of Jesus the Master, present in the Eucharist, in the Liturgy in the Church and in the People of God.
Her devotion to Mother Scholastica made her godmother to many children to whom she gave handmade woolen booties. This was simple gesture that she offered to families, asking for the intercession of Mother Scholastica for the needs of the child. There are many testimonies of God’s grace nourished by this gesture of love: from the possibility of having a peaceful birth to the blessings of health of the unborn child.
On the occasion of the celebration of her 60 years of religious life and 65 years of foundation of the Congregation in Brazil, Sister Venerina shared the following thoughts on the beauty of religious life: “This is the day that the Lord has made for us, let us be glad and rejoice in Him! Celebrating 65 years of history blessed by God and by Fr Giacomo Alberione, we thank the Divine Master for the wonders he has done for us, his disciples. He loves us. He repeats to us from the Tabernacle: “Do not be afraid, I am with you, from here I want to enlighten”. In the certainty of God’s presence in history, we face all the challenges with faith and confidence. We are here to bless God for the perseverance in our vocation as Pious Disciples. Alberione said: “Your vocation is a treasure whose value we will understand only when we come before God. We are in the Holy Year of Mercy; we also ask forgiveness for our failures in responding to God’s grace. And let us celebrate in joy.”
In 2021, Sister M. Venerina Vaccarisi celebrated 70 years of religious life. This is what she said on that special occasion:
“I joined Catholic Action at the age of 17: I was searching for something different. The first time I did Night Adoration, I felt an enchantment and an intense desire to continue, without knowing why! Soon the parish priest directed me to the Pious Disciples – how God is generous! In living the charism of Blessed James Alberione and the teachings regarding the service to the priesthood, the Eucharist and the liturgy, I have always tried to live these dimensions fully and in a unified way. The Primo Maestro said:
“For the priesthood, you are called to be a mother in imitation of Mary … the Eucharist does not exist without priests. He said that singing is prayer, and we must sing with our lives! We find joy in following Jesus, trying to be holy and if we are faithful, it is because He is faithful”. Fr Alberione loved to repeat that “for the sake of the eternal reward, I sacrifice myself and step by step I make the journey. With perseverance, true joy is found even in difficult times.” With simplicity I gave everything to the Lord!
Sr. M. Venerina lived for 65 years in Brazil. When asked if she wanted to return to her country of origin, she always replied with her beautiful, contagious, and unforgettable smile: “Even from here you can go to Heaven! “. Her tireless witness of love and dedication to God will remain forever in everyone’s memory. It was the new wine of Jesus, in the joy of a word of faith and in the witness of those who felt loved by the Beloved. The serenity of her witness imbued us with this certainty.
During her funeral homily of June 9, 2021, Don Antonio Lucio, ssp, recalled that she herself, in an interview for the magazine “Il Cooperatore Paolino” of October-December 1982, declared that she had never openly expressed the intention to be a missionary, but the Lord – who sees the desires of the heart – asked her, through the voice of her superiors, manifested in a simple letter, to leave her homeland and come to Brazil. It was on the month of May 1956.
On that occasion Sr. M. Venerina received this message: “Best wishes and prayers. I ask God that the holy solemnities of these days may bring an increase in graces, lights, merits, and joys. I bless each of your names. The Divine Master will give you another home: if you are faithful. I pray for vocations but be very careful to choose them well. Have a great love for Jesus Host” (Fr Alberione).
Sr. M. Venerina is a great light of God’s hope and tenderness for all of us and for our Church.