Creation, Diversity, and Religious Life

The autumn colours are a rich reminder of the gifts of creation, the changing of seasons, and a time of thanksgiving.  I have been blessed these past few weeks to experience this season in two radically different places, Arizona and Toronto. What fascinated me most is how creation adapts to diversity, this tree, the Palo Verde, found in the desert adapts to its context by facilitating photosynthesis in its bark, green due to the chlorophyll that helps it hold water and sugar in the absence of large leaves.  While hardly autumn weather as we would know it in Canada, the cooler evenings certainly provided a relief to the heat of the day.  

By contrast the cooler autumn weather in Toronto brought the start of the fall colours to the landscape around the city.  In the midst of urban life, skyscrapers, and traffic, you don’t need to look far to find a shot of colour to remind you of the change of season, the coming winter, and miracle of photosynthesis displayed in the brilliant red and gold leaves. 

This diversity displayed in creation is a great metaphor for the times in which we live Religious Life.  The elements of our way of life are the same, rooted in our Baptismal Call, led the Spirit of the Risen Christ, and facilitated through our vows, in the context of  community.   The diversity of our world means that we need to adapt to the contexts in which we find ourselves, fewer in number, less visibility, and a more urgent call to be prophetic voices.

This fall also marks a new term for me on my congregation Leadership Team.  Four of us were re-elected and given the gift of time (up to 6 weeks) for some renewal and rest.  I am grateful to use some of that time to be with with family in Toronto, especially my Mom, to celebrate Thanksgiving.  

I also plan to spend some time in retreat, and creating opportunities to discover the movement of the Spirit and the ways in which we are called to live out the Charism of Religious Life in particular, and my own congregation’s Charism specifically.  I am grateful to each of you as we continue to journey together in support and solidarity as we strive to make life giving choices in our personal lives, our communities, and our ministries. 

Written by:  Sr. Joanne O’Regan, CSM – Sisters of St. Martha of Antigonish

We, Sisters of St. Martha, inspired by God’s graciousness, hear, embrace and respond to the cry for Gospel Hospitality. (Mission Statement, Chapter 2004)

We Are Missionaries

Dear friends,

I do remember that our last General Chapter held on 2015 in Rome, came out with a chapter document titled « we are missionaries” (Missionarii Sumus). It called us to be an authentic witness of the Joy of the Gospel by living out a prophetic commitment and a fraternal communion. Yes, the month of October is very special for all the baptised in the Church because we are celebrating the extraordinary missionary month named by the Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis. The theme is “Baptized and sent.”

It is always a huge challenge to live out our identity as missionary disciple in this secularized part of the world. However, the Spirit of God impels us to go forward with joy and humility. We are not messiahs, rather prophets. 

I hail from a beautiful coastal village called Rajakamangalam Thurai, southern part of Tamil Nadu, India. I am a Tamil-Indian. My vocational journey is a mixture of three M: Missionary, Marian & Maternal. Yes, I have been in different part of India for my initial formation, philosophy and novitiate. Later, I completed my theology in Spain. I have been journeying with the Claretian Missionaries almost twenty years. What a blessing!

After my theology I was sent Canada to live out my missionary commitments. I have been accompanying the youth and immigrants in Canada for the past years. What a joy to walk with them. Right now, I am working as pastor in a multicultural parish in Sherbrooke, Quebec. There are people from 25 different countries, French and Spanish are our main languages.

I do remember that one day a lady from my parish told me “we need foreign priest like you in order to fulfil our sacramental needs”

Another lady, once told me “Thanks for walking with us as a missionary” 

I think, you can see the difference in those two interventions. Two different mindsets. The world is full of polarization and as a Missionary I would like to contribute to building bridges between cultures as Jesus did. We are not foreigners in Canada, rather we are missionaries.  And wherever we go as baptized followers of Christ we go as Missionaries.

Today I thank the Lord for my vocation as Claretian Missionary as we celebrate the month of October.  It is a special month dedicated to our Founder St. Anthony Mary Claret whose feast will be celebrated on 24th October.  A great missionary preacher, founder, Archbishop and confessor. All of these responsibilities he carried out with great zeal and enthusiasm. 

The other day one young man said to me: “Father, it is really very hard to be a Christian and missionary in Quebec.” I told him: “Welcome to the gang.  We know that there is nothing impossible and with God everything is possible.”

We have a God who is a missionary in nature because he was sent by his Father to this broken world and to this mess in order to make it beautiful, fraternal and interesting. So as baptized followers of Christ we are called to continue the good work of our Master in our religious life through our particular religious charism.  So that we can help build the kingdom of God without losing sight of our eternal home, which is Heaven. We are not foreigners, we are Missionaries!

Written by: Père Reegan Soosai CMF

(Missionnaire Clarétains)