A prophecy of joy

In his message to the Sister Disciples of the Divine Master, May 22, Pope Francis encouraged the sisters gathered in Rome for the General Chapter to be open to the Holy Spirit. This is expressed through openness to sharing and listening to one another in the community, seeking to understand one another as we work together to spread the message of Christ to the people of today. It is a message of joy and hope.

The Holy Father reminds us that we are called to live a "prophecy of joy." As consecrated women, we are called to live the joy of the Gospel in order to spread it to others. It is only by living our consecrated life in authentic joy that others are also attracted to the message of Christ.

Here in Boston, this is lived in our international community in which there are 12 sisters coming from 7 different nations and cultural backgrounds. This means there is need for continual dialogue, of sharing and listening to one another.

Each charism has a specific focus in the Church. In our eucharistic, priestly and liturgical apostolate, our ministry is to foster the life of the Church, first of all by prayer through our daily eucharistic adoration, nourishing our own personal and community relationship with Jesus, our Divine Master and Teacher. This relationship with Christ leads to peace within the individual and the community, which is then radiated in daily life and dealings with other persons.

In our priestly apostolate, our mission is to support the minsters of the Word of God so that the message of Christ can reach as many people as possible through the means of social communication. We pray for vocations to the priesthood, for seminarians, deacons and priests that they may find joy in their ministry of service to God's people. In Boston, our sisters also provide a pastoral service with the elderly priests at Regina Cleri, where our community has been ministering since 1978.

In our liturgical apostolate, our ministry is to help attract persons through beauty in our places of worship and to foster the liturgy. In Boston we do this through our Liturgical Apostolate Center through which we make and distribute items necessary for the liturgy and also provide a place in which priests and people can come to share their concerns, and their intentions for prayer. Many times, they need someone who will listen to them and share their concerns.

During the major liturgical functions in the cathedral, for example, Christmas, Easter, Chrism Mass, ordinations, etc. our sisters assist in the sacristy to help the liturgical celebration to flow smoothly. This frees the priests and altar servers to focus on the liturgy itself, rather than the incidentals that are needed in the background. After Communion, the sisters also purify and clean the sacred vessels so that the ministers are free to focus on other aspects of the liturgy. While this service is in the background, it does help to foster the dignity of the liturgical celebration.

Besides the location in downtown Boston, the Sister Disciples also offer their ministry at the Pastoral Center in Braintree, promoting the eucharistic adoration, fostering dignity and beauty in the liturgical celebrations, and working to enhance the prayerful atmosphere in the chapel. The sisters also have a gift shop in which liturgical and devotional items are available to the persons who come into the Pastoral Center.

In November 2016, the Sisters also began a new ministry in Weymouth. The Sisters reside at Mother Scholastica Convent, the previous rectory at Immaculate Conception Parish in East Weymouth. This presence allows for a closer contact with the people of the parish and also provides space for eventual days of prayer or vocational discernment for young people who might be considering a religious vocation. This new step is also in response to the invitation of the Holy Father to consecrated men and women to "Wake up the world" and to bring light, joy and hope for the future to our world.

- Sister Lucille Van Hoogmoed, PDDM, a member of the Sister Disciples of the Divine Master, is a Special Assistant in the Clergy Personnel Office of the Archdiocese.