As I write these lines, this familiar song rings in my mind “Follow me, follow me…leave your home and family…” from the Gospel of Luke 9:57-62. Jesus says: “Follow me..” (v. 59.) My response today is: Yes Lord I will follow you … but how?
Our FMM Charism helps me to do just that. It guides and helps me to follow Christ. Through its five aspects, the Charism ultimately answers clearly and practically the question as to “how” I follow Christ in my daily life. “The Eucharist is the centre of our lives.” Art.9. Listening to the Word and receiving the Eucharist each day nourishes me spiritually and commissions me to go out and proclaim the Gospel in my day-to-day life, wherever I am. As a young missionary, this orients my day and moreso in my apostolate. I am currently doing my apostolate in Pax Christi Pastoral Centre. It belongs to the diocese of Dundee in South Africa whereby we ( FMM) welcome all people from all religions, for retreats, meetings and also those who want to spend quiet time in the beauty of God’s creation. With the different experiences I have here, I appreciate our FMM Charism because I see it really guiding me as I listen and try to respond to their needs. As we welcome and converse with those who come to the centre or those who just come to the Repository for some holy items; some share their stories and ask for prayers and in so doing I feel my purpose being served. Art.34. (“To continue the mission of Christ, who was sent by the Father with the power of the Spirit to bring Good News to the poor…..”). The people send me back to Christ who sends me initially to them to offer my humble services and in that way I become a messenger between the two (God and His People). It’s always a joy for me to be part of those who welcome people who come to us for spiritual nourishment and to hear them say that they enjoyed the place! They appreciate our hospitality and some have mentioned that they see and feel the “Franciscan hospitality.” Offering myself to the service of God’s people in this way, doesn’t only help me to come out of my comfort zone of knowing a few people and cultures but also challenges me to learn something from each one of them. I remember a beautiful experience with the Durban Metropolitan Bishops of South Africa who had come last month for a meeting. Our Franciscan brother Cardinal Napier with a simple car was the first one to arrive and we waited eagerly for the three bishops who were to still come the next day. In my imagination, I was expecting to see three big cars bringing them. Little did I know that the three Bishops would come together in one car!! I was like haaaa Bishops! Woow ! What a simplicity I learnt that day!what a joy!I remembered the words of our Seraphic Father St. Francis ” Preach always and if necessary use words” The Bishops really preached to me that day.
Mary of the Passion wanted us to be courageous in our mission. It is clear that she experienced it herself and now she prepares us too! We (FMM) render our service to the centre as a team, meaning all of us ( Community) are involved in one way or another. Sr. Melanie is mainly involved in the centre and I am happy to be assisting there as my main apostolate. The centre at times can be demanding but how nice it is to have sisters in community! I appreciate their love and concern as we work together. The community is a continual source of support through our communal prayers and when there is anything that needs to be done in the centre. It is with the sisters that God gave me that I would come and share my experiences of the day and regain strength while supporting each other on our journey towards the Lord. One day when I thought I had come to the end of the day, I heard that someone was coming and needed a room. Art.4 came strongly to my mind “……Missionaries ready to go anywhere…” and I was smiling. Ofcourse I was not going anywhere but this helped me a lot to be disponible and respond to the situation and gave me strength to sing “Welcome”. Our “call to live in the same charism” starts in community (home) and ends there at the end of my day where I experience the community really at the heart of transformation helping me to grow in my daily discernment to follow Christ who calls me each day.
Mary is a role model in my daily “yes”. Her Ecce and Fiat gives me courage and helps my attitude in responding to whatever God is asking of me at that particular moment. Sometimes I feel I may not be able to do what is asked of me but looking at her she helps me in my discernment and to still say “yes” with trust knowing the words of the angel Gabriel to Mary at theAnnunciation “For nothing is impossible with God” ( Luke 1:37).
I thank God for the gift of our Charism which He instilled and confided in Mama Passion and now left to us her daughters. It’s my prayer that as we continue with Christ’s mission through our FMM way of life, we may be true witnesses of the One we are following each day by our being.
Sr. Immaculate Sitima
FMM Young religious – South Africa province