In celebration of the 125th anniversary of the founding of the Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart
–Excerpts from a homily given by Bishop Denis J. Madden on
October 10, 2014, at a Mass marking the beginning of the
Community’s yearlong anniversary celebration
In the annals of the Mission Helpers we read, “United in their love for the poor, early Mission Helpers banded together to incarnate God’s love for all those who are spiritually or temporally in need.”
Mother Demetrias (Mission Helpers’ foundress) took to heart the words we heard this evening from John’s first letter:
“In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that He loved us and sent His son as expiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, and His love is brought to perfection in us.”
Just the other day…I saw a man with a bent back walking down the street. I could not see his face, only his hunched back. And by the grace of God I could see and experience the presence of God in him. I thanked God for that visit and at the same time wondered how often have I missed His other appearances.
You, my dear Sisters, have not missed these sightings of the Lord; you, my dear Sisters, have not missed the Lord coming among us for the last 125 years in various shapes and forms—now that’s a lot of sightings!
With no anxiety but in a spirit of thankfulness at being able to serve the Lord by serving others your missions have taken you all over the United States, to central and south America, and your ministries have extended beyond the borders of the classroom to faith formation, spiritual direction, hospital ministry, care of the elderly…You have served in centers for those with special needs and offered shelter and protection to abused women and extended a welcome to asylum seekers.
Pope St. John Paul II said: “To welcome the weakest, helping them on life’s journey, is a sign of civilization. These persons belong in every way to the category of the poor whom Jesus reminded us in his beatitudes ‘will inherit the Kingdom of God’.”
My dear Sisters, you have been doing this for 125 years, and I am especially thankful that you have been doing it here in this Archdiocese where you have served in more than 150 parishes and countless social service centers.
From your earliest days you were known as “new kinds of Sisters.” You were not the traditional school teachers or nurses. Instead you went out among the people, reached out to those who were the most alienated or neglected by society, and responded to their needs.
It’s amazing what a whole group, a congregation of women, can do! It’s amazing what a group that takes the Gospel seriously can do.
How sorely the world and this local Church today still need your presence and your service so filled with love. You, the good Mission Helpers, change people’s lives, you give hope when there is no reason to hope, and you bring joy when lives are surrounded by darkness. Can anyone thank you enough for this? I don’t think so, but at least we can try.
May God continue to show His face to you and bless you with His most favored Blessings.