Called to Be a Caring Presence
The mission of the Church is to continue Christ's earthly ministry (John 14:12). Jesus’ purpose for coming to the earth was to redeem us. He imparted this same objective to His disciples, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations…”(Mt 28:19).Through our baptism, each one of us has a mission to bring people to Jesus Christ.
A New Mission
On April 29, 1894, a young noble women knelt at the tomb of St. Peter in Rome. That moment, 125 years ago, was to be one of the most important in the life of Mary Teresa Ledòchowska. For some time, the Holy Spirit had been showing her the importance and need to assist missionaries engaged directly in evangelization. Earlier that same day she had met with Pope Leo XIII who approved the new mission God was entrusting to her.
Two years before she met with Pope Leo XIII, she began her journey to respond to God’s inspiration to evangelize. Despite disapproval from others, Maria Teresa left her high position at the Court of Tuscany in Austria. Her unusual missionary call was not to be a catechist or to evangelize on the ‘frontlines’, but to alert many Christians to their baptismal call and thus provide a rich harvest of spiritual and financial support for the missionaries. To become in faith a caring presence for them.
Who could have known that 81 years later, in 1975, this abundant harvest of support for the missions, would lead to her picture being hung from the balcony of that same Basilica as she was proclaimed “Blessed”.
125 Years of Service
Pope Francis announced that October 2019 would be an Extraordinary Missionary Month. A month in whichto foster an increased awareness of our baptismal call to be missionary. The Pope’s desire for more mission-conscious Catholics coincides with the mission of Blessed Mary Teresa and reinforces that this need continues today.
By Divine Providence, the year in which we will hold this Extraordinary Missionary Month also marks the 125thanniversary of the Foundation of the Missionary Sisters of St. Peter Claver, founded on the 29thApril 1894, by Blessed Mary Teresa, to continue her charism in the Church. Her passion to contribute to the mission of the Church put her at the service of hundreds of thousands of missionaries and has brought a harvest of support to them for 125 years.
Cardinal Wyszynski wrote about this new-path missionary in 1977 after her beatification, “The tireless evangelical service undertaken by Bl. Mary Teresa Ledòchowska cannot be perceived in its fullness. It would be necessary to reach the depth of the human heart which loves Christ.” The Cardinal pointed out the secret of her mission – a heart that loves God and wants to bring all people to Him!
A Missionary Everywhere
Mission begins in the heart. First in the heart of God, who sends His only beloved Son (John 3:16) and then, in the heart of every person who answers the call to discipleship. Mission must be impressed on the heart before it is expressed by hands. Bl. Mary Teresa’s mission – and that of her spiritual daughters – is to be an animating and uniting link between missionaries and those Christians who remain at home. In our baptism, we are called to mission, or as Pope Francis would say “to bea mission.”
Our Mother Foundress worked to show all Christians that the mission of the Church is their mission and that it could be lived in any place, age, culture, job, state of life. She showed us how to be a missionary at our desk, in the kitchen, at school, in hospital, or walking down the street. What makes us missionaries is a heart directed towards those who do not know God and a heart that cares and knows how to offer prayer, sacrifice, time and talents to witness to the Christian life. There is no limits for living our mission. It is a continual call that inspires and makes sense of every situation of life even if it be difficult, challenging or monotonous. But it is a call in faith. Only in heaven we will see the fruit of our acts of charity.
A charism is more lived than explained. In many countries I have visited, I have seen our Claverian charism lived by thousands of our mission friends. I see that same charism alive in generous children who donate their coins to the poor; in the sick who mindfully offer their sufferings for missionaries; in the youth who donate their time to various mission activities; in hard-working friends who trust us enough to altruistically share their earnings and thank us for the opportunity to do so.
Pope Francis reminds us that we need to be an out-goingand not a living-room Church. We are a Church that ‘goes-out’, as we walk together a missionary path: missionaries, mission benefactors and us, Sisters. But, it is never a one-way street. Our mission minded co-workers support the missionaries with their prayers and financial help. Missionaries pray for their benefactors and our Sisters. All the Sisters around the world pray daily and offer sacrifices for the missionaries and benefactors. There is a wonderful movement between us of prayers, charity, compassion, understanding and enthusiasm; continual exchange of giving and receiving.
Go Out to the Whole World
We are a missionary family that does not stay in the “living-room”, but walks together to “go out to the whole world”. There is a saying that “charity begins at home, but it should not end there.”
During the year 2017 alone, you have walked with us to 70 countries around the world and expressed with your hands the deep feelings of faith and charity in your heart. In this way you have helped 1,134 projects in 462 dioceses. In particular:
· 730 projects in 264 dioceses of 36 countries in Africa
· 103 projects in 54 dioceses of 13 countries in America
· 276 projects in 133 dioceses of 15 countries in Asia
· 23 projects in nine dioceses of five countries in Europe
· Two projects in two different dioceses of one country in Oceania
Today, we thank you, our dear benefactors for living the mission and walking this missionary path. Continue to be an out-going church and walk with us into the future! Our mission to be a ‘caring presence’, continues today. Our deep gratitude and our daily prayers will be with you every step of your journey!
Mother Maria Moryl,