JUBILEE MESSAGE ON THE OCCASION OF 25TH ANNIVERSARY OF DIVINE MERCY PROVINCE OF INDIA - DECEMBER 2011
Dear participants in today’s Jubilee celebration: I come with joy in my heart to take part in this common thanksgiving, which the Mother of Divine Love Province offers to the Lord God for the past 25 years of apostolic service on this ground. I warmly welcome all of you. It gives me great pleasure to be here today together with Sr. Stella Holisz, who was Superior General for 12 years, and accompanied and built up this province for almost 20 years. Today I am happy to collaborate with Sr. Stella as an experienced leader in the General Council. I am also glad to be here with Sr. Josephina D'Souza, previous Delegature Superior of India and presently my General Councilor. With pleasure I would like to also mention Sr. Maria Knaus, who was not able to come to India, because of her health condition, however her heart is here, and will always be, because the Indian sisters have found a special place in her life. From the beginning, and not only as a general superior, but as a provincial, and mission procurator, she gave herself fully for this mission, and always looked on it with her keen vision and hope for its future.
On this singular occasion of the 25th Anniversary of this Province, I together with all the Sisters of our Congregation praise the Lord and give Him thanks for the life and vocation of every Pallottine Missionary Sister in India. For all the good wrought through endless prayer, sacrifice and dauntless human effort during these 25 years, we thank you and give glory to God.
Although this year, which we celebrate is officialy signed as the birth of our first community in India, history says that the very begining of this proces reaches back to 1980’s, when the then Archbishop Antony Padiyara from Kerala met the Pallottine Missionaries Sisters in the USA and invited them to India. Already in the following year the next steps, and initiatives were taken by Sr. Elisabeth Heptner, the Superior General from 1980-1992, in close collaboration with the Pallottine Fathers. At this point I would like to express our thanks to the Pallottine Fathers for their advice, assistance, accompaniament, and brotherly help, especially to Fr. Manfred Hauck SAC, who is with us here today, Fr. Antony Kolb SAC, and Fr. Susayan who walked with the Pallottine Missionary Sisters in India from the very begining.
God planted the seed and He gave the growth. Slowly but steadly brick by brick, the new foundation developed. The first young women, whom God called to be missionaries, faced real missionary life from the day of their entrance, as they left their homes for initial formation and traveled to an unknown country with a different culture and customs - Belize, Central America! Soon after the return of the first group, serious responisbilities had to be addressed. As there were no elderly sisters, the task of superiorship was entrusted to Sr. Magdala Schneider, a German Pallottine, who at that time was a General Councilor in Rome. Sister Magdala agreed to accompany the young branch as much as possible, as she had to go back and forth from Italy to India and to Germany, because of visa matters. However, Sr. Magdala, strong in faith, courageous in spirit, and convinced of God's will, gave her best to this foundation and gave the first Sisters a good solid fundament. In time she became the first Delegature Superior of the community. At the end she gave her life. She died in August 1994 in Goa Assagao and remained there with the sisters whom she loved - forever.
These days of coming into being a province must never be forgotten. They were trully marked by the sacrifice, struggles and dedication of many people, and blessed by Almighty Father and supported by St. Vincent Pallotti. Therefore, let us always return to our beginings with gratitude, from where we may draw hope for building a strenghend future. Now let us go to Rome, to the place of our Founder, where the Congregation was born, and to Germany, where we developed. The greatest number of missionaries came from Germany and were first sent to Cameroon and later to other foreign countries, according to the intention of the Founder. This is our heritage, which we should treasure and on which we should build. Never forget this!
Today, with compassion and gratitude in my heart I recall all the Sisters from the General Government, from the Provinces of Germany, Belize and Poland, who were chosen by God to initiate, support and build our Congragation on Indian soil. Let us thank them for their courage, with which they undertook the evangelical risk to establish the first communities. Surely they did not fail! Be grateful to them for their dedicated and hard work, for the development and preparation for the future generations so that you could work according to God’s will and serve the Church with full dedication. May we always keep in mind that who we are today, and where and how we came to realize our Pallottine charism is because of the many sisters who preceded you. Let us express our deep gratitude and prayers for them today.
With sincere gratitude I wish to also thank your Church authorities, who always supported your projects, and from the very beginning, the many Pallottine Fathers and Sisters from other provinces, the lay collaborators and the many generous benefactors, who together contributed to the success of this foundation. May the Lord equally reward them for their good deeds.
In cordial words of appreciation and greetings, I now would like to direct my words to all the participants in this solemn Liturgy, especially the Pallottine Fathers and Sisters of the Catholic Apostolate. Each one of you has had a part in the 25 year history of this Province, and today we are all united in one colorful mosaic. Let us continue to walk together as St. Vincent Pallotti desired. This is our time and the future is granted to us – let us accept it with courage and thanksgiving.
My dear Pallottine Missionaries of Mother of Divine Love Province, today, as we look toward the future, I would like to dedicate to you the insightful words from THE ROMAN TRIPTYCH of Blessed John Paul II:
IF YOU WANT TO FIND THE SOURCE,
YOU HAVE TO GO UP AGAINST THE CURRENT,
TEAR THROUGH, SEEK, DON'T GIVE UP,
YOU KNOW IT MUST BE SOMEWHERE HERE.
God himself is the source of your life. If you want to grow and fulfill the mission entrusted to you - you must never stop "climbing the mountains" in search of the Source; you must immerse your life in this Source, which is Infinite Love. Only from this foundation will you bear good fruit, renew lost hopes, and draw new strength to fully live according the charism of our Founder, St. Vincent Pallotti - “For the infinite glory of God, for the destruction of sin, and for the salvation of souls".
A Jubilee is not only a festivity, but also an opportunity to look with gratitude to the past and with renewed enthusiasm to the future; a time to discern new ways and to draw new strength for bringing hope to others. May this Jubilee Year become for all Sisters of the Province a feast of faith, hope, love and thanksgsgiving so that each Sister will generate new ideas and create new works all for the Infinite Love and Glory of God.
To your patroness, Mother of Divine Love, I entrust your tomorrows. May she teach you to contemplate and love Christ as St. Vincent Pallotti did in his daily life and apostolic mission. May she protect you against doubts; may she teach you respect for each other; and help you in your daily sevice. May she be your guide and mistress in faith as you follow Jesus Christ, on the way to the Source, for who better than she can teach us to contemplate and love Christ, the apostle of the Heavely Father.
Sr. Izabela Świerad, SAC