Sister Catherine Jones, smsm
‘The joy of the Gospel is born of the encounter with Christ and from sharing with the poor.’
These words from the message of Pope Francis for Mission Sunday on 19 October 2014 challenged me to reflect on how the encounter with Christ is linked to sharing with the poor: www.missionz.co.nz/MISSION-SUNDAY-2014/
I roamed over my years of missionary experience and to my surprise remembered visiting a family in southern Algeria. Their eight-year-old daughter, Miriam, had Down Syndrome.
In a country where there were not many facilities to help persons with a disability, Miriam had never been to school. She took a liking to my sunhat, which she wore for the next 24 hours well down over her eyes. As we were leaving she offered it back to me saying, ‘You need it now’. Looking again at the grainy photo taken on the visit reminded me of the special gift of gospel joy this young Muslim girl offered me.
Pope Francis concludes his Mission Sunday message: I urge each of you to recall, as if you were making an interior pilgrimage, that “first love” with which the Lord Jesus Christ warmed your heart, not for the sake of nostalgia but in order to persevere in joy.
Let’s try that exercise this Mission Sunday, 19 October 2014.
Sr Catherine Jones is a Missionary Sister of the Society of Mary.
The Missionary Sisters of the Society of Mary (SMSM) trace their origins to the departure of lay woman Marie Françoise Perroton for the Marist missions in the Pacific in 1845.