Sister Melinda Adrienne
Sister Melinda Adrienne
Were You There When Love Costs Everything
What is the cost of true love? A question asked on this Good Friday. What is genuine, no-holds-barred passion? Authentic love holds relationships together, love binds those relationships up for the long haul; it is eternal. Love that will cost everything is The Passion of the Cross.
The First Reading, from Isaiah, reminds us that: Jesus, our hope, our redeemer stood speechless; sometimes, love has no words in the midst of infirmities and suffering, love endures. Love withstands chastisement, it pardons, it forgives. Love embraces the light of truth and often requires sacrifices. The Passion of Jesus reminds us that true, enduring, everlasting love will cost everything! On this Good Friday, Jesus gives everything.
Jesus, our Savior, entered into the world, He was rejected by the world. And because He loved us, Jesus silently stepped into His passion for us! Jesus, in John’s Gospel, seizes the moment. Jesus, the great “I Am”, gives up of Himself for love. When the arresting authorities enter the garden, Jesus asks: “Whom are you seeking?” Jesus responds: “I Am He” The authorities are knocked to the ground! The very essence of sacrificial love, in action, is overwhelming and often difficult to comprehend. This kind of love knocks us off our feet!
Good Friday reminds us again to bear witness and to ask: Were we there? We place ourselves into the experience: The arrest, the trial, the conviction, and the Crucifixion of Jesus. “Were You There when they crucified my Lord? Tremble! Tremble! Tremble!"
The Passion of Jesus often reminds me of September 2000. I had just gotten married. My husband, Phil, and I were settling into the new routine of living as husband and wife. Phil had had a persistent cough that had been plaguing him for a while. At my insistence, we went to see the doctor. His doctor voiced concerns and made us an appointment with an oncologist.
Unknowingly, I asked: ”what’s an oncologist?” Phil and I would soon learn exactly what an oncologist was! The tests revealed: Lung Cancer, Non-Small Cell, Squamous Cancer, Stage 4! Our Garden Experience and journey had begun! Like Jesus, in The Kidron Valley, we were brought to our knees in desperation! There was no escape! Phil and I would be in the anguish of it all! Heartache and suffering are human experiences we never escape from!
There were times when I fell into a pew in church and fixed my eyes on the outstretched arms of the Crucified Christ before me. I begged, I bartered: ”take this away!” I told God that if my husband was healed, I would do better, be better, and live a better life. Jesus hung there just staring into the abyss! Jesus seemed like a silent partner!
In the moments of preparation for my husband’s funeral I kept asking: “Were you there, Jesus?” Time has given me a new and different perspective and insight! God’s unconditional, sacrificing love remains with us. Enduring and faithful love changes everything! It heals.
Love is a gift, love withstands the pain of death. At the foot of the Cross, in the presence of loved ones, in the thirst of the moment, love’s power transcends the blood, the sadness, and the piercing pain of rejection. Sacrificial love transforms. And when it is finished, love prevails.
In the hour when the doctor explained that it was time to unplug the medical equipment that was no longer keeping my husband alive, I also understood: “it is finished." I let Phil go! In that instance, I remembered the outstretched arms of Jesus transforming and saving humanity. Love that costs everything!
The Goodness, the holiness of this particular Friday is the ultimate act of love and we should tremble! The African American Spiritual’s lyrics, composed by the enslaved: ”Were You There, when they crucified my Lord?" We place ourselves there. We remember, and we tremble because we have been saved. Transformative love costs everything to save us!
Sister Melinda Adrienne Pellerin,ssj
Sister Melinda Adrienne Pellerin,ssj
Melinda Adrienne Pellerin was born in Springfield, Mass. She is the oldest child born to Mary Margaret Melancon-Pellerin and Robert Pellerin, Jr. Melinda’s parents were born in Broussard, Louisiana. Sister Melinda has deep roots in southern Louisiana!
After marrying in the first Black Catholic Church, Saint Joseph’s, Mr. and Mrs. Pellerin moved to Springfield, Mass, and raised four children. Sister Melinda is the oldest.
Melinda attended Catholic elementary, high school, and the Catholic College, Annhurst College in Woodstock, Conn. She received a BA in secondary education with a minor in history and social sciences. She went on to receive a Master’s in Educational Technology from Lesley University, and recently a Certification in Addiction Counseling.
Before entering religious life, Sister Melinda was a secondary teacher spending most of her teaching career in the Public School System in Springfield, Mass.
Melinda was the recipient of The Distinguished High School Teacher of The Year in 1999, and The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Teacher of the Year in 2004! As Teacher of The Year, Melinda represented the Commonwealth and presented on a variety of topics related to successful inner-city teaching techniques and motivational skills. She taught in the Ivory Coast and was invited to The White House as Massachusetts Teacher of the Year. A project she helped to create with a colleague, on Innovative Technology Approaches to Education is now in the Library of Congress! The late Senator Edward Kennedy highlighted one of her programs on the floor of the Senate!
In 2019, Sister Melinda made her Final Vows with The Sisters of Saint Joseph. She is a Pastoral Minister at Saint Mary’s Catholic Church, Chaplin at a women’s jail, and a case manager at a local transitional sober home for men and women.
She is the Vice President of the National Black Sisters Conference.
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