11 Understanding the Missionary Dimension of the RJMs - Sr Junkal Guevara, rjm

posted Nov 9, 2017, 2:25 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Nov 9, 2017, 2:26 AM ]
Excerpts from the address of Sr Junkal Guevara on the 'Teleological Aspects of Missionary Spirit', at the Agra Conference (October 6, 2017)

On April 5, 1847, M. Saint Teresa (Claudine Motte) sent a letter from Agra to M. Saint Andrew, informing her about the situation of the Mission and the missionaries in India. In that letter, full of enthusiasm, she said: "Oh, what great good can be done in the missions! Oh, how I wish that our dear Congregation could have a great number of missionaries! How grateful I am to God for choosing me for this!"

The words of M. Saint Teresa pronounced in this place today, as they were 170 years ago, can help us to reflect on the theological lines and the accents in the way of understanding our missionary service as a Congregation in the origin or beginning, at the present time, and, I also hope, to discern and find out the possible missionary paths of Jesus and Mary, to begin walking on these paths in its third centenary.

M. Saint Teresa writes this letter full of missionary enthusiasm, after she had been in India since November 1842. It can be said that she had seen almost everything: the good, the growth of the presence of Jesus and Mary in Agra and Mussoorie; the arrival of Novices and Postulants, the conversion of young people and adults. Also, what was not so good, the bad (or what was difficult), the death of the newly professed St Vincent de Paul and of the Novice Mary St Ignatius; the difficulty of the extreme climate and of the new customs, the distance from Fourvière… Nevertheless, over and above everything, she gave a joyful witness of the service that was being given in the Mission; and of her vocation as apostle ad gentes, to the point that she desired a Congregation in which that ad gentes mission would be relevant charismatically.

M. Saint Teresa, faithful to the spirit of her time, understood the Mission as being sent to a concrete "mission" country; that for her had a particular significance, and in a certain sense, different from what she had felt in the first years of her life as a Religious of Jesus and Mary (and she had been a teacher in the classroom, directress of the Boarders, Mistress of Novices…), and being sent, besides, she considered it as a special grace for the Congregation that she loved so much.

As we all know, the call of Msgr Borghi to go out to serve apostolically in India was made in 1841.

The Congregation had existed only a bit more than 30 years, and even if Claudine had already died, the first generation of religious who had lived with her from the beginning were still living, governing the Congregation and were working very actively in the apostolate.

Lyons had been the place in which the whole Project strongly identified with the charismatic intuition of Claudine had been forged, which she herself had embodied in the first draft of the Constitutions: "(3) The aim of the Congregation is to give a Christian education to young girls, conformably to the social position of each one [28]" (Const. 27.3). And even if the Constitutions did not limit the field of action to Lyons, the truth is that the expansion of the Congregation was limited to the cities of Belleville, Monistrol and Le Puy, and in the foundational texts, in no way, is indicated that Claudine conceived as part of her Project, as other founders of her time did (Mazenod, Champagnat…), an apostolic expansion beyond the frontiers of France, and much less, in places where even the plantatio ecclesiae was not thought of.

"42 The Congregation does not limit itself to the diocese of Lyons only, but to spread the cult of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, it will accept proposals made to it to form establishments in other dioceses; but for this, it is necessary to have the majority of votes of the General Chapter of the Congregation, as well as the consent of the ecclesiastical Superior and of the bishop [39] of the diocese."

But the Religious of Jesus and Mary of the 19th century did not live outside of the concerns of their time and the challenges/calls that called/knocked at their doors. That time which has been called "the great century of the Missions" and which manifested itself in a brilliant way in the Church of France also entered Jesus and Mary by the hand of Msgr Borghi, Apostolic Vicar of Agra.