RELIGIOUS LIFE IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH 2017 by Sr. Ona B. Bessette, CND

IN THE MOTHER HOUSE OF THE CONGREGATION OF NOTRE DAME, these words of St. Marguerite Bourgeoys are presented in French, English, Japanese, and Spanish in a small oratory containing the ashes of her heart. Sitting in prayer there, I contemplate the call that God has placed in my heart to continue the work begun by St. Marguerite in Montreal. As a member of the General Council of the Congregation, I am reminded that leadership is an act of service – an invitation to show love and compassion. As Jesus washed the feet of the disciples and invited them to do the same, leaders in all walks of life are called to be beacons of care and fight for the advancement of others. Throughout her life, St. Marguerite expressed this love and service to all she met. She was eager to help the young women of the colony and to ensure education for the children of the colonists and the native peoples. Today, sisters, associates and colleagues of the Congregation of Notre Dame continue to respond to the needs of their neighbors across the globe. The ministry of leadership in the Congregation is an invitation to live the spirit of St. Marguerite in the current context of a world that longs for compassion. We live in a time when it is nearly impossible to be ignorant of the many places in the world where love and freedom are difficult to see. Yet when we look into the eyes of refugee child seeking a place of security, hope can be seen. Our God is the source of hope in the darkness of despair; our God is the light that illuminates the way to freedom. Our task, as the people of God and those inspired by St. Marguerite, is to be a tangible source of love and compassion to others. While we may not be physically able to offer shelter to that child, we have the power to advocate for change and the gift of praying hearts. Prayer that rises from the heart of compassion is a powerful force for liberation in our world. St. Marguerite, intercede for those in our world who seek hope and freedom.

“It is true that all I have ever desired most deeply and what I still most ardently wish is that the great precept of the love of God above all things and of the neighbor as oneself be written in every heart.”

(Writing of Marguerite Bourgeoys, p. 187)