Once again I hear the challenge and love of Pope Francis, encouraging us to move from the center (where power dwells) to the periphery (where we are called to serve). And Jesus reminds his disciples (you and me) that princes of this world use power to dominate, but it can’t be that way for Jesus’ followers.
Last week I directed a retreat for (mostly retired) religious women. The Sisters might seem frail or fragile to the spectator, but their histories are anything but! Several of them spend fifteen or twenty years in West Africa as foreign missionary educators. One spoke to me of founding a school/home for unwed mothers because the high school had a policy of expelling any pregnant girl and forbade her getting a diploma. (“Why not the boy?” she questioned!) So she made sure the girls had the opportunity to complete their course work and graduate. Another Sister shared the privilege of working with refugees in Minnesota. I stand in awe at their conviction, their commitment, their courage.
It seems to me that we need not waste our time anxiously pondering diminishment of resources (finances or personnel in church and religious life and vocations) when we can revel in the kingdom God is building now, much like the disciples in today’s Gospel, full of “wonderment”!
Fr. Jack Conley, C.P. is the director of the Office of Mission Effectiveness. He is a member of the Passionist formation community at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.