‘The missionary breath of the spirituality of Mother Cabrini gives to her experience a sense of movement, of urgency, of running, of doing everything in a hurry as long as there is time. She travelled, seeking persons to console with God’s love. Everything was characterised by the symbol of ‘flying’, to be free from obstacles, to enter with trust and abandonment, into the horizons of God…’

Sr. Maria Barbagallo MSC

The Sixteenth General Chapter of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is fast approaching. As it does so our hearts and minds turn towards this time of grace, celebration and discernment, seeking an outpouring of Divine love and wisdom. 

During the Inter-Chapter Meeting in Addis Ababa in 2019, participants chose as the overarching theme for this special gathering “Free Yourselves and Put on Wings”. In doing so they reminded us of one of the central motifs from the life and ministry of St. Frances Cabrini, so vividly expressed in the words quoted above. 

One of the things I most admire about St. Frances herself is the speed at which she responded to pressing needs. The missionary call she received from Jesus was always before here and her heart expanded to embrace the vulnerable and dislocated, even if at first, they looked beyond her reach. When presented with obstacles, however reasonable, she looked ahead with confidence, considering them as merely ‘scarecrows to frighten children’.

The journey Mother Cabrini began, of course, continued through the Institute she founded and as her Missionary Sisters and Lay Partners in Mission gather together once more to reflect on what has taken place in recent times and chart the way ahead, we remember her passion and her pragmatism in response to the kind purposes of God.

In sharing her desire for freedom and flight, it is likely that we will experience similar perennial challenges, both personally and collectively as we too ‘seek persons to console with God’s love’. Some of the obstacles from which we need to be free are likely to be found within ourselves, but others we will discover in our consideration of the external circumstances and realities we face in an increasingly turbulent world. 

Yet, from the same source as did St. Frances, we shall seek and find solace, renewal and direction – the all-loving Sacred Heart of Jesus. For it is ‘the horizons of God’ that we seek, rather than our own limited perspective. In ‘trust and abandonment’, therefore, we look ahead to the General Chapter, filled with hopeful expectation for all that will be revealed. 

I am sure that you will not need reminding, but please pray for this important, sacred moment in the life of the whole global Institute that it shall be a time of grace – a unifying, energising, joyful experience.

Running up to the event there will be a Novena of Prayer which will be made available in late May for everyone to use, but in the meantime please continue to use the General Chapter prayer which, I’m sure will now be very familiar.

Mark Davis, General Chapter Facilitator

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