Who is Saint Mary Euphrasia for us today?
Article by Ana Isabel Hernández Navarro, lay partner in mission,
Province of Central America.
As a form of homage to St. Mary Euphrasia, on April 24 the Province of Central America's lay partners in mission submitted videos about how they understood the meaning of this saint's life in our present times. One single video was edited together from these submissions. I would like to share some of the core principles that resonate with us through the various voices and visions that unite us together.
The contributions highlight some aspects of a life which was nourished by her experience of God, feeding the mission, building creative and innovative possibilities, and culminating in a style of relationship that favored the most vulnerable of her time.
The centrality of her deep experience of God.
Her universal zeal and leadership networks for mission.
Her attitude of tenderness and compassion towards those most hurt and forgotten.
Lay partners highlighted her life centered on God as the foundation of all her actions, as a call to strengthen our very BEING so that God's love can be seen. Every single action of hers was inspired at the foot of the tabernacle, where she received the lessons from her Master on how to bear the cross in silence. This experience which she described as "a love that burns and devours me" was the same love of God that moved her to recognize, embrace, and open her heart and mind to every human situation of inequity and pain. No demands of the mission ever took her away from her deep communion with God, who was always given priority in her time. This is what fueled her life, her tireless capacity to work, and the way in how she faced adversity. A lesson that is still relevant today when the urgency of pastoral activities can cause us to lose sight of the source that feeds our service.
Her zeal was the source of a love that embraced the world and led her to transcend her culture, her nationality, to overcome borders, and to experience the globalization of love as far back as her times. This aspect of love invites us today to see beyond our community, family, province, country, and region, and to identify with the needs of different parts of the world that call us to share solidarity, resources, and concrete missionary activities. It involves our mindsets to be transformed in a way that can only be the work of the spirit of love and of true harmony with the Charism that has been kept alive since Saint John Eudes to us. Participating in this has highly demanding implications for a moment of history in which the pandemic raises the cry for justice, reconciliation, and the transforming presence that enhances life in all its expressions, overcoming various forms of inequality and individualism.
Her attitude of tenderness and compassion makes us think about the thoughtful way she treated her sisters, her friends, those enslaved, those with disabilities, and even those in whom she encountered opposition. Her concern for the basic needs of food, rest, clothing, health, and safety – before ever speaking of the catechism – meant her presence was a symbol of love and security for those who had probably never experienced an act of kindness in their lives. Her serene figure, short in height but of immense moral influence, continues to call us today to experience the spirit of the Good Shepherd, which in her finds one of its most faithful expressions.
How can we celebrate her today without uncovering the extraordinary way that her teachings can be put into practice? How can we call ourselves her daughters and sons if in our lives we fail to prioritize the same values of her Gospel-rooted spirituality, boundless fraternity, unfailing kindness, and style of leadership that continues through us?
Sr. Francisca Torres (left) passing the ‘paddle of leadership’
to Sr. Gilma María Muñoz (right).
April 24 also marked a special moment in our Province when we thanked the leadership team headed by Sr. Francisca Torres which came to the end of its mandate and welcomed Sr. Gilma María Muñoz and her team to begin their mandate to lead the province.
Together, may we be God's smile. Deeply experiencing his mercy and by sharing it, announcing it, and celebrating it among us all, come to discover the greatest joy in our lives. This is what we are called to do as the Good Shepherd family, and it is the best way we can celebrate this exceptional woman.