On February 2, 2019 our celebration of the Centennial Year of the Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity officially comes to a close.
Because one year just isn’t long enough, we began celebrating our Centennial two years in advance. We began by sending our members a reproduction of our original Articles of Incorporation in the state of Alabama, dated February 2, 1918. We were inspired by the audacity of the handful of women whose signatures filled the lower half of the tattered document.
And thus we commenced to celebrate our one hundred years. During 2016, we had the opportunity to view and reflect on old promotional films from the 1950s. More than a nostalgia trip, the grainy old films reminded us of all those old missions we started where no other religious sisters had gone before. They reminded us of who we are. We are pioneers! We go to the places where work needs doing, and we figure out how to do it as we go along.
We pulled out our old “Spiritual Directory” of 1952, which has been fading on our shelves as newer documents have emerged to guide us. Reflecting on our old directory forced us to ask how the words it contains are spoken today. Have we adapted its language for the 21st Century or have we forgotten important wisdom that needs to be spoken again?
We have had a parade of heroes! Researchers and presenters have re-introduced us to historical figures we thought we knew: Saint Vincent de Paul founder of the Vincentians from whom we emerge; Father Thomas A. Judge, CM and Mother Boniface Keasey, MSBT our community’s Co-Founders; Mother Mary of the Incarnate Word, MSBT one of our early leaders. We have immersed ourselves in the deep pool of our history and come up refreshed!
In the 1930s, Mother Mary of the Incarnate Word cautioned us to hold onto our simplicity and family style that unifies our lay, priest, brother and sisters branches into one Missionary Cenacle Family. She reminds us, “This is another feature we take for granted because we have grown up with it; we haven’t known anything else. Anyone coming in for the first time sees it. Everyone who comes to any Missionary Cenacle feels it. [They say] ‘It is so homelike. You are so different.’”
Yes, indeed. By the grace of God, we have managed to stay authentic. When we first sought counsel about how to mark our 100 year anniversary, it was suggested that we rent out a big reception hall and host a huge gala affair. Our gut reaction was, “That is not us!” We do sheet cakes, not petit fours. And, so we did: in the year 2018 we served massive sheet cakes in Connecticut (twice), Puerto Rico (twice), Michoacán Mexico, Alabama, and Philadelphia (three times). That is a lot of cake!
And of course, we didn’t just eat cake. Before the cake, we had special Masses in many locations. Notably, Archbishop Charles Chaput celebrated our Centennial at our Motherhouse in Philadelphia. New mission crosses were raised in Ponce, New Hartford,CT and at the Motherhouse. And the chapel at Mother Boniface Cenacle at Wesley Senior Living now has a new mission cross as well, though not planted in the ground!
Parties, reflections, history lessons, films… and now it’s time to move on from celebrating. What comes after One Hundred? Is One Hundred and One going to be any different? Yes! And, No!
Yes, because we are different. We are not our founders and we are not living in their world or even in their Church. We have been adapting to change all along or else we would not have lasted this long. And we plan to keep adapting. At our 2018 Chapter, we affirmed together:
Impelled by the Trinity, we are bold in witnessing God’s love in our Church and in our hurting and ever changing world. On fire with the Charism, we become leaven in new and creative ways.
And, No, because we are the same. We are pioneers. We do not know what lies ahead for us, but we know who we are. Who we have always been… Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity.