In a strange land, but no strangers to God's love
Sisters arrive from south to serve Hispanic community
They come out of holy obedience, their love of God and a desire to serve God's people in a strange land.
At Sunday Mass at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, Winona Bishop John Quinn welcomed seven sisters of the order of Mission Helpers of the Holy Savior to the Diocese of Winona and to the service of the Hispanic community within the diocese.
The sisters, from Mexico, Guatemala and Texas, will take up residence in a refurbished convent in Worthington, in far western Minnesota, but will work with Spanish-speaking people across the entire diocese.
Preaching on the parable of Lazarus and the rich man, Quinn drew a parallel between the attitude of the rich man to Lazarus begging at his door. Hispanic people tend to be invisible among us, he said, making them and their difficulties easy for us to ignore. The presence of the sisters will help all to see how we are being called to "care for the Lazarus in our midst."
The bishop presented the sisters with a processional crucifix to carry with them on their mission. "It is our gift, as God's people, to you," he said. "Wherever you go, bring Christ's love."
In turn, the sisters presented the bishop with a portrait of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patroness of Mexico.
The Mission Helpers of the Holy Savior were founded in 1984 by the Rev. Pablo Straub, a Redemptorist priest, as an order of contemplative and missionary nuns. The order now numbers 64 sisters, and an order for men, founded 10 years later, has 22 vowed members.
Straub, who accompanied the sisters to Minnesota, said Bishop Quinn contacted him last August, asking him to send members of the order to work in the diocese. Straub accepted, he said, but it took a full year for visas for the six Mexican and Guatemalan sisters to be processed. The seventh, he said, was from "the Republic of Texas," so needed no visa.
Mother Marcelina de Jesus said she came because she "knew there were Spanish-speaking people here who are abandoned and in need of the Gospel.
"I exist to give people the living Gospel, so I want to go," she said.
Nineteen-year-old novice Sister Ana Rosa said she knew it was the "will of God" for her to come. "I am very happy to be here, not that I love the place, but that I obey the voice of God," she said.
A missionary, and for that matter every Christian, may be guided by this thought, Straub said: "Be what you are supposed to be. Do what you are supposed to do. Everything else will be taken care of by God."
The mission sisters traveled Sunday afternoon to Worthington and were welcomed there with a Spanish language Mass in the evening. Winona Daily News