On October 8, 2015, Sister Susana Miranda Jimenez professed her final vows as a religious missionary sister with the Xaverian Missionary of Mary Sisters. Sr. Susi (as we lovingly call her) is from Mexico and spent considerable time in her dedication to the Lord and to the global mission of the Church. Today, while working on her English, is assisting in the Latino ministry of the Diocese of Worcester, Massachusetts, along with her other sisters.
The Xaverian Missionary Sisters of Mary
The Xaverian Missionary Sisters (of Mary) were established in Parma, Italy, in 1945. The seeds of this foundation can be found in the prophetic insights of Saint Conforti. “In the Xaverian Congregation I would like to start a Community of Sisters, for I consider it of great importance.” (Conforti, in 1927). Celestine Healy Bottego, born in Glendale, Ohio on Dec. 20 1895, and lived in Butte, Montana until her 14th birthday, expressed her consent to collaborate with Fr. James Spagnolo to start the community of sisters, in 1944 in Italy.
Today, the Missionaries of Mary – Xaverian Sisters – are present in Italy, Brazil, Mexico, United States, Sierra Leone, Cameroon, Chad, Congo, Japan and Thailand. They are engaged in evangelization, catechetical activity, health care, and human promotion (especially of women). They live in small mission communities, often in areas of great poverty. They strive to respond to deep-rooted aspirations of the local churches and people among whom they live, and whose journey, sufferings, hopes and expectations they share.
Consecrating our Lives to Something Grand
The missionary sisters draw inspiration from Mary, in the mystery of the Visitation and hold her to be the model of their interior spirit. Like Mary they travel the world, that all people will know the love of God. At the heart of Mary’s role in our lives is the model she provides of one who consecrates themselves to the dreams of God that transcends all plans and dreams of happiness.
In many profound ways, the gesture of Sr. Susi is really a reflection of the deepest, most profound desires within all of us: consecrating our lives to something larger than our small visions and personal interests. What are you willing to consecrate yourself to? What are you willing to embrace that would take up all of your life, decisions, actions, and aspirations?
For religious missionaries, the horizon is open; we are called to prayerful watchfulness, interceding for the world. On the horizon, we continue to see little signs heralding an abundant, beneficial rainfall on our dryness, faint whispers of a faithful presence.
Pope Francis has a direct questions for us: “Do you struggle with the Lord for your people, as Abraham struggled? It is here where religious missionaries find themselves at the crossroads of the world. The experience of the poor, interreligious and intercultural dialogue, the complementarity of men and women, environmentalism in a sick world, eugenics without scruples, a globalized economy, planetary communication: these are the new horizons that must be inhabited and brought firmly under the guidance of the Spirit. It is here where consecrated missionary life becomes a welcome dialogue in search for God which has always stirred the human heart.
Seeds for the Future
In this Year of Consecrated Life, religious missionaries, along with many others, is called to “wake up the world,” since the distinctive sign of religious life is prophesy. This prophetic role, like with the Old Testament prophets, is all about people, like Sr. Susi, with a unique role to read and respond to the times in which they live. We need to encourage many more to consecrate themselves to something grand, something bigger than our little dreams. It is our role to enflesh the dreams of God for all of humanity.