On Friday 7th of November several RSCJ and friends gathered in the residence of the Spanish Ambassador to Egypt, Mr. M. Arturo Avello Díaz del Corral, on the occasion of the awarding of the Decoration of the Order of Isabella the Catholic by King Felipe VI of Spain to Sister Adela Blanes in recognition of her work in the promotion and development of women, above all in the fight against female circumcision of little girls and marriage at a young age, and the advancement of women’s rights.
In his speech the Ambassador said that Adela represented the work of a great many Spanish RSCJ who have lived their vocation in service to Egypt. He stressed the love, tenderness, trust, commitment and solidarity in the mission entrusted to them: the education in the school in Ghamra with Pilinchi Romero and Asunción López, as also the work of Reyes Callís y Juanita Rivero in the dispensaries with the girls of Samalout.
In her response Adela said she was accepting this award in the name of all the RSCJ and laywomen who had worked with her in this mission of education and development of women; that is why she wanted all those who had contributed in a special way to this mission of education and development of women in the village of Bayadeya to be present at this ceremony: Cecilia van Zon, Celeste Khayat, Sally Salah, the leaders of the Girls Centre; the Sisters of the Society of the Sacred Heart who had helped and supported this mission; the Association for Education and Development of Upper Egypt, represented by the President Emeritus M. Amin Fahim, and the current President, M. Antoine Labib. She spoke of the legacy of Saint Madeleine Sophie, the founder of the Society: "women inspired by the love of the Heart of Jesus to commit themselves through education to empower women to grow in their human dignity and as daughters of God, educating them in freedom, love, respect and justice so that they might have a better quality of life and thus contribute to building a more humane world.”
Having thanked King Felipe VI for the Award, Adela quoted the words of a Catalan Bishop who has lived in Brazil for many years and who is deeply committed to Liberation Theology: "At the end, they will ask me: have you loved? and then I will show them my heart full of names." She then added her own message :
"I am nearing the end of my journey. The Lord has given me the gift of a heart full of names, of faces of men and women, of boys and girls of the village with whom I have shared joys and sorrows, hopes and difficulties. From them I have learned to give my life that others may have life, to live in solidarity with suffering and joy, to enter into the mystery of the wounded Heart of Jesus.... Sisters of my religious community who have helped and supported me, friends who have generously collaborated in the work of development and wellbeing of persons… My heart is thankful to God for so many names and faces.. my life has been enriched in sharing with them all… My great strength and joy all through the years has been my daily encounter with Jesus : Whatever you do to one of these, my brothers and sisters, you do to me. What matters in life is to love, to love, to love…
Thank you to each of you for being here, having come from far or near, to share this recognition."
We ended with a toast in joy and friendship.
News report and photos sent by Aida Ghali rscj