‘Forgiveness is not for the weak,’ says workshop presenter

“Forgiveness is not for the weak. It is not letting the offender off the hook,” says Sister Catherine T. Nerney.
The Sister of St. Joseph will conduct a session and offer a meditation during the pastoral care workshop, “Forgiveness and Reconciliation at the End of Life,” that will be held at St. John of God Community Services, Westville Grove, on Oct. 19.
An associate professor of religious studies at Chestnut Hill College, Philadelphia, Sister Nerney’s theological studies on forgiveness took her to Rwanda in 2006, where she met with people who survived the genocidal mass slaughter of the Tutsis by the Hutus that took place in 1994.
Meeting with widows and orphans there, she said, helped convince her that the act of forgiving can let individuals move from pain and heartbreak “into a moment of grace.”
“Forgiveness happens in the heart of the person who has been offended,” she said, pointing out that “forgiveness” is different than “being forgiven.”
The offender can be forgiven – but that requires repentance.
A person who forgives, on the other hand, is making the decision not to accept a victim mentality and not to seek revenge. To forgive is to give offenders back their humanity instead of reducing them to the terrible things they have done.
To be effective caregivers, people have to learn to forgive in their own lives, Sister Nerney said, adding that will be the focus of her presentation at the pastoral care workshop.
The psychological and spiritual work together in the act of forgiving, she said.
“No one forgives because they are forced to do it,” she said. “There has to be an inner nudge. We can’t give it to ourselves. We believe in God’s invitation of grace.”

Categories: Latest News

About Author