– August 26, 1847
The word “daring” does not come as a surprise when used by women for whom “missionary service and the Marist vocation were but one single call”. Missionary experience in the traditional sense of the word is well typified in the accomplishment of that exemplary pioneer, Franoise Perroton. It consists in overcoming obstacles which everybody agreed were insuperable. It is an accomplishment to which generations of missionary sisters have devoted their best talents and energy. I take as a symbol of it the fact of daring to train sisters as medical doctors and as dentists when they felt this would help the mission. Even today the Missionary Sisters of the Society of Mary stand on the frontiers that need to be crossed: inculturation, justice and peace, the promotionof women. It is only natural that when it comes to expressingthe mystery of Mary’s presence in the church, apostolic daring should be a component of their version of “hidden and unknown”. Through them, this new note enriches Marist spirituality.
– Gaston Lessard, sm
In the shoes of others
When Marist missionary Jean-Baptiste Rolland arrived in New Zealand, he received a letter from Bishop Philippe Viard. The Bishop, in welcoming him, wrote: “Once arrived in the diocese of Wellington, the missionary must learn the Maori language and the English language. He must forget that he is French, and dismiss all thoughts that could distract him from the only purpose for which he is sent.”
Marist historian Jean Coste, commenting on the courage of the pioneer Marists, said: “There have been great Marists? Yes! They accomplished something really extraordinary in learning two foreign languages at the same time, Maori and English; in adapting to habits, ways of life so different from theirs and in bringing the Word of God to these new people. Let us be great Marists today. Let us ourselves learn the new language of our time, understand the reactions, the feelings, the way of life of those who are different from us; of this young generation who sometimes seem so far from us in their rejection of our artifical modern world, our affluent society.”
Each of us, in his own cultural setting, knows the tension and turmoil of the younger generation as they confront the values of their society, search for truth and meaning, seek for wisdom and guidance and affirmation.We know their anguish and bitterness, their disillusionment and anger, their disenchantment and apathy… as also their faith and hope and love, their generosity and even heroism…. Perhaps at times it seems terribly frightening, too, and there is a natural tendency to turn in on ourselves, to seek our own security. What gives us the courage to open our doors, to go forth with new inspiration and determination, is the same Mary, the same Spirit of the Lord, present in the midst of our communities as in the midst of the apostles.
– Letter from the XVIIth General Chapter of the Marist Brothers
Missionary Sisters’ Constitutions
The call which urged them to leave all resounds in our hears today. Their source of strength to set out an persevere in mission also opens our path into the future. Being faithful means to keep in our heart that first impulse as a daily source of daring so as to respond to the calls of God.