Extraordinary Missionary Month
Baptized and Sent
The specialty of extra ordinary Mission Month, made me ponder on my own life as a Missionary. From childhood I had the imagery of a Missionary- a Priest or Nun going about in villages, doing simple things with great love, many kids thronging around them, or sitting and listening to some elderly folks. Or at other times, going about treating patients medically. All the while they have a simple bag hanging on the shoulder, and clad in simple attire. It was a utopian feel. Seeing from the other side!
Having this beautiful imagination in mind and with the ardent desire to do so much good deeds always, I joined a missionary congregation. And in the past 21 years, I hardly took a cloth bag on my shoulder and wandered about in the villages, saving souls.
Missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit (SSpS), my congregation, we work in 51 countries. And every year a Sister is sent out into other country as Overseas Missionary. A Mission Cross ceremony is conducted, prior to leaving for the country. We call them Missionary; and when I go to my native place, I hear them calling me Missionary!
Who are missionaries? In India there are more than 1.5Lakh Religious, spread across the country. Most of us are Religious missionaries while some others are contemplatives or semi contemplatives Order. However everybody is a missionary. After all every baptized member in the Church is a missionary. But the question is – What mission work are all these 1.5Lk men and Women are doing? Yes that’s the whole point. Out of 1.5Lk, less than 1k falls in my imaginary category of Missionaries, a bag on the shoulder and clad in simple attire, sleeping under a tree……
A Missionary Congregation is a huge net work of activities. Hundreds or Thousands of individuals, work as one unit, even though varied in its nature. It’s the ‘Charism’ of the congregation that binds everyone to work together. Like the organs in the body, everyone has a different role to play. Nobody is least, nor great. All are interdependent.
Few months before, I took up a journey visiting our other Convents to take photographs for documentation. Although I set out for one house, I decided to visit other Houses too. It was a very long lonely journey, going through totally unknown places. With my equipments, my hands were full, and I was so preoccupied with handling them with care. It was a local bus. At every stop someone would get down and few others would board in. At one point, I thought to myself, me a Keralite, what am I doing here in this interiors of Orissa? For whom am I making this trip? Is it a Mission Work?
I didn’t find a convincing answer, until recently while I was sitting with one of the sisters who is engaged with administration of the Province. She burns many nights oil, just to make sure that all the Mission activities of other sisters go smoothly in terms of legally and financially. She is vested with that responsibility, to help others function properly. There is another sister, who spent most part of her life, stitching Religious Habits for other sisters. She was a blessed tailor, and willingly did her best; thus on those important days of one’s life, a Sister could dress well. There are sisters heading the well established prestigious schools or Hospitals. But ever since they take up the responsibility, hardly they enjoy seven hours of peaceful night. We may have associates at our beck and call; but individual responsibility that makes all our activities fruitful. A sister may be in charge of the Kitchen, or a farm, or secretarial work, or in charge of a house, or even just leading a prayer life, even then essentially all are Missionaries.
Missionary Life is –“doing small things with great love’. Our life is never stagnated; it’s recycled. It’s the fact that all of us go through the dark nights. The challenges and struggles need not be due to personal differences. Ultimately we are on constant move. Therefore transfers are inevitable in our life. It’s moving by doing. Never to get tired. When done sufficiently in one place, it’s time to pack up and go to a new place and start all over again. And at the end there will be a time, when all the positions and portfolios vanish, and gracefully give way for the next.
Jesus says, “when you did it all to the least of your brother you did it unto me”. So much of mission work is waiting in the world. From caring for the planet to the unborn baby. Every corner is seeking our attention, asking for a helping hand. Do we see it?
The theme for the extra ordinary month awakens our call and responsibility. In this life we have a duty to reach out to the other, however simple way it is. Let’s be a Missionary either at home or away from home.
Sr. Tessy Jacob SSpS