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200 years of the Charism of Claudine Thevenet

posted Nov 10, 2017, 6:17 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Nov 10, 2017, 6:17 AM ]
In 1842, a brave band of six Sisters was sent on a long, adventurous and perilous journey to distant India, barely five years after the death of Mother Claudine Thevenet, the foundress of their Congregation of Jesus and Mary on February 3, 1837. It symbolised the response given by the Religious of Jesus and Mary to an appeal from India that set the Congregation on the path of MISSION AD GENTES.

St Claudine, Foundress of 'Jesus and Mary' and true daughter of the Church, described as the 'Gospel personified', remains a shining example of the spiritual renaissance of Lyons in the 19th century, and a model of holiness and apostolic zeal for our world today. It is this admirable missionary Spirit - the hallmark of her life - that continues to beckon us with an urgency to harken to the cries of people from distant shores and to hasten there.

It is 200 years since that first call, and our hearts still beat with zeal and ardour today in living out the charism of our dear Claudine: to serve the young, and all social classes, with a preference for the poor. This occasion provides us with an opportunity not only to celebrate these past 200 years of our contribution as a pioneering Congregation in India, but also to renew our future ministry in the world at large, so that with fresh and concerted initiatives, we can continue to play our role in the global transformation of Education.

In our later Missionary Epic story of 'JESUS AND MARY', we see how drastically the demands on Education have changed. It has been an undaunted challenge for us to keep abreast with the flow of educational events and to handle the trauma of change sweeping through our schools. It is due to the pioneering presence of our Sisters, who with gifted heads and hearts, and whose spiritual and inspirational leadership kept our Congregation moving closely and steadily within the large looming shadow of St Claudine and the Church.

We deeply revere them for their fine example as large-hearted WOMEN with a deep spiritual and maternal outlook, sound practical judgment, firm commitment, their scholarship, expertise, humaneness, and much more. It is a time to look back with gratitude, thankfulness and joy, together with our Sisters, our Lay Collaborators, Parents and Pupils, the world over, and pour out our praise to God in the words of our traditional anthem: 'Praised be forever Jesus and Mary.'

In the last words of Claudine: "How Good God is" which we oft repeat, "lie our determination and perseverance in keeping the boat from sinking, in spite of complex changes and the sad loss of many skilled hands of our collaborators. Spurred on by her spirit, we have encouraged the growth and formation of the Young Religious and their teammates who zealously exemplify Claudine's charism of 'making God known and loved.'

As we plant another milestone in the pages of our chequered history, we earnestly desire to renew our 'MAGIS' to Christ and His Church as One Apostolic Body of the Congregation, and therefore pledge not merely about 'doing more', but 'giving more'. We subscribe afresh to the MAGIS, with a deeper understanding of what we are assigning to. If the MAGIS is simply 'the greater, the excellent, the best', and associated with restless striving to always do better, then "Do we/I desire to be challenged by it at this MAGIS MOMENT?"

If our MAGIS is to be experienced as a turning away from mediocrity, and choosing the path of love which is limitless, then our motto should be 'every heart which holds Jesus is a Missionary, and every heart which does not is our Mission field.' For our MAGIS to be fruitful and fulfilling, we must be constantly striving to grow stronger spiritually and intellectually for Mission. Looking at the world with the eyes of Claudine, we see Compassion as truly and completely making others' plight and difficulties our own. Our MAGIS could be this form of Compassion, urging us to take on the 'more' of people's struggles.

With Claudine's heavenly support, we want that our MAGIS be always TOTAL, always JOYFUL…always MAGIS, because it is for the KING who calls. (Sp. Exs.)

Sr Gerard Paul, rjm