We had a wonderful celebration of the Rite of Perpetual Oath of five students at 2nd Cycle – Pune.
Fr. Gerry Hastie, the Vicar General and the General Councillor for Europe & Formation was presider of the Holy Eucharist on 16th of April in which he accepted and received the P.O of five students namely Kevin Maurice Brown, Jayaraju Kota, Prudhvi (Vikki) Maddala, Ochwo Valeriano & Naresh Nayak.
The parents of our three Indian students, the uncle of our student Ochwo from Uganda and other friends and relatives joined us in the wonderful celebration of witnessing our five temporary members making a life long commitment.
Homily preached by General Councillor Fr Gerry Hastie MHM
Kevin, Jayaraju, Naresh, Ochwo and Vikki,
You will shortly be taking your perpetual oath to the Society. Through this you will commit yourself to a life-long dedication to the missionary apostolate of our Society.
Your willingness to make this lifelong commitment is in response to the One who has called you.
God first called you. God has chosen you – not because you are perfect – surely, like the rest of us, you are not without faults. God knows you are perfectly human – the weaknesses and struggles you have today will still be with you tomorrow and no doubt new ones will emerge, the strengths and gifts you have today will be there tomorrow and you will discover new gifts and strengths along the way. But God has chosen you – in your weakness and vulnerability, with your gifts and strengths – simply because he loves you.
As we heard in the first reading (1 Jn. 3:1-3), through Jesus, we know that we are already God’s beloved children – every human being. God loves us. This is the Good News that you are called to give witness to. Responding to the dream or vision of our founder, Cardinal Vaughan, you are called to go where the need is greatest, to the people most abandoned and poorest in the means of grace. In other words, to go – by preference – to those on the margins who are treated often as if they are of no value – unwelcomed, unwanted, unloved, excluded. To go to those who have never had the opportunity to encounter the Joy of the Gospel and so come to know their dignity as beloved children of God. Jesus shows us that no one is excluded from God’s love – he gave his life for us all – everyone is deserving of God’s mercy simply because God, as he has chosen you, chooses all people – God desires the fullness of life for all people.
Like the disciples sent out by Jesus in the Gospel (Mt. 10:16-23), in your missionary journey, you will experience – along with many joys – challenges and struggles:
- Sent to countries and cultures not of your own, being faced with new languages – you will struggle initially both to understand and be understood, and this can be a very isolating and lonely experience.
- Being confronted with different ways of thinking and world views can be disturbing – but in such disturbance you will find the promptings of the Spirit.
- Sometimes just living with one another as fellow mill hill missionaries can be a challenge – we all remain human.
- There will be experiences of powerlessness where you will be forced to confront your own limitations and learn more and more to hand over to God.
- And, as some of the communities we love and serve in face persecution and violence, you may also face persecution and violence.
- You may even be asked to accept the ultimate self-giving as some of our missionaries have done: most recently Cosmas Ondari who was killed in Cameroon in November 2018, Declan O’Toole in Uganda in March 2002 and others. May they all rest in peace.
You will receive the Red Sash – a symbol of your willingness to give of your life generously and unconditionally in the service of the Gospel. To go and not to count the cost.
You will also receive the Mission Cross, a reminder of the one who gave his life for you, whose mission you are called to continue and who is your constant companion.
Mathew’s Gospel concludes with the reassuring words of the Risen Lord to the apostles, ‘And look, I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.’
Wherever you go, whatever and whoever you encounter know that Christ is there – always above you and below you, behind you and before you, in the people you are sent to, in their and your daily joys and struggles, in the messiness and beauty of life, in you – Christ is there. So there is always reason to be joyful and live with hope. Christ will always be there. Be attentive to his presence.
Be people of prayer – let God’s love and mercy be your source of strength and the primary focus of your witness to those broken and in difficulties around you.
Be assured also, that wherever you find yourself, you will be supported through the prayers of your fellow mill hill missionaries throughout the world – those still active in the mission fields and those in the power houses of prayer that are our retirement homes, as well as the prayers of the extended mill hill global family of friends.
I would like to finish by saying thank you.
Thank you for your willingness to commit yourselves for life to this great missionary apostolate – God chose you and you said yes. So, thank you.
I would also like to thank those who have guided and supported you throughout your formation journey: your formators here – Thomas, Emmanuel and Mathews – as well as the many other formators who have walked with you from your initial contact with the vocations directors, through to Basic Formation and Philosophy, and during your two year mission experience; not forgetting your spiritual directors, pastoral supervisors, retreat guides and lecturers, and – of course – your fellow students. There are also the many people who have supported you daily through, for example, preparing food for you to eat, maintaining the buildings and compounds you have lived and studied in. And the many thousands of people – who you may never meet – who have supported you through their prayers and generous donations as well as our fellow mill hill missionaries and partners who have worked tirelessly in the background to raise funds for your studies. Your formation journey has been supported by a large and global family.
I would also like to thank your primary formators – your parents and family, friends, teachers and parish community who have nurtured you since birth and through whom the fire of faith in you was first lit. We have many people to be grateful for.
Thank you especially to your parents and family for letting you join our mill hill family.
As you take your perpetual oath and commit to life long love and service in the Society, remain always grateful. We are already God’s beloved children and it is this truth that we are called to witness to – every human being is our brother and sister, every human being precious in the eyes of God, no one is excluded from God’s mercy and love. Be nurtured by that mercy and love. Witness to that mercy and love.