MSMHC: Rooted in Christ and Grounded in Mission

Friday 23 September 2022
MSMHC: Rooted in Christ and Grounded in Mission

The mission of the church flows from the free initiative of the Father, passes through the mandate of Jesus Christ and is perpetuated by the work of the Holy Spirit. It is one and is entrusted to all the members of the people of God, on account of their baptism and confirmation. Particular charisms of the spirit however mean that the mission is carried out in different ways according to different persons or groups to whom they are sent” (Identity Card of the Salesian Family 14).

Bishop Stephen Ferrando SDB was a missionary par excellence. Under his missionary enterprise, the Catholic Church in Northeast India grew mature in faith and number. In the founding of the indigenous congregation for women, he gave a facelift to the permanent missionary nature of the Church in this region, and through his daughters his apostolic spirit lives on. The Congregation of Missionary Sisters of Mary Help of Christians (MSMHC), founded by a true son of Don Bosco and an ardent Salesian missionary Venerable Bishop Stephen Ferrando, is a spring of living water welling up from the rich heritage of the Salesian Charism and missionary Spirituality of Don Bosco. This article is a brief reflection upon the two vital dimensions of Consecration and Mission from the Salesian perspective for the MSMHC based on the Identity Card of the Salesian Family.

Bishop Ferrando says, “the more we love Jesus, the more we long to be united to Him and the more we long to pray.” According to the Salesian perception, consecration implies absolute gift of oneself to God as a response to God’s own gift of Himself to each individual. The credibility of MSMHC mission depends to a great extent on their ability to establish an intimate union with God. In fact, it is the secret strength of our missionary spirituality. The missionary activities of Bishop Stephen Ferrando came forth from his deep union with God. And he exhorted his daughters to live always in union with God and do everything for the glory of God, as he himself lived this union very intensely.  

The passion to preach the gospel and passion for souls are the two great passions with which Bishop Stephen Ferrando nurtured his Sisters. Just like the motto of Don Bosco, da mihi animas cetera tolle (give me souls, take way the rest), Bishop Ferrando had a great passion for mission and the salvation of souls. As ‘An apostle of Christ’ more zealously he went about preaching the good news of salvation to all. He was deeply rooted in Christ and grounded in mission. 

Thus, MSMHC charism was borne of the ‘thirst for souls’ of Bishop Stephen Ferrando. For the MSMHC with its motto “Go proclaim the Good News,” and mission ad gentes as intended by the Founder under the influence of the Holy Spirit and the authority of the Church, is non-negotiable and vital element for the integrity of MSMHC charism, consecration and mission. He had a passionate love for missionary evangelization, especially in the villages. The quality and vitality of the Congregation is always measured by the degree of missionary spirit that its members possess. Since missionary evangelization being the constitutive and the essential element of the charism and spirit of the Congregation, the Sisters perceive and interpret every form of apostolate from the view of a missionary. The apostolic ideal of total self-gift to God in mission is expressed by the MSMHC thus, “we promote the glory of God and building up of the church by following Christ very closely and collaborating in the spreading of the Gospel and in every work of charity connected with it” (const. art.2).  The first and greatest mission and work of charity for the MSMHC is bringing the Good News of Jesus to every soul they encounter, particularly to women, girls, and children – through schools, orphanages, festive oratories, homes for infants, widows and the aged, and care for the sick.

 The sisters are highly influenced by the burning zeal for mission and love for all people, especially the poor. In fulfilling their apostolate, they put in the best of their abilities, imagination and creativity, always animated by a missionary heart. It affects all the programmes and plans that the Congregation undertakes. May the missionary legacy of the Missionary Sisters continue to stand out for their witness of life, mission ad gentes, catechesis, works of charity, being bearers of God’s grace, instructors of faith and angels of charity for the salvation of souls, and glory of God.

Sr. Viji John MSMHC

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