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Community seeks God’s power to do more than they can ask or imagine

By Jordan McMorrough
Today's Catholic

Sister Merium Mitchell, SHSp, speaks for the first time in an official capacity as the superior general for the Sisters of the Holy Spirit and Mary Immaculate.
Jordan McMorrough | Today's Catholic

    SAN ANTONIO • The June 24 Mass of thanksgiving and blessing for the new congregational leadership of the Sisters of the Holy Spirit and Mary Immaculate was a moment of celebration for the order and an opportunity to highlight the multicultural flavor of the community.

    A group of predominately Irish sisters, with their motherhouse in San Antonio, held a liturgy in their chapel that had a bit of a Cajun feel to it while featuring Spanish songs and later, mariachi music.

    The new superior general, Sister Miriam Mitchell, SHSp, served as chancellor of the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux, La., for the past several years, and her former boss, Bishop Sam Jacobs, was the celebrant at the Mass. In addition, most of the employees of that diocese’s pastoral center made their way to South Texas to attend the ceremony.
    In his homily, Bishop Jacobs described the day as, “a new moment in the life of the Holy Spirit Sisters.”
    He said the new congregational leadership, consisting of Sister Mitchell, Sister Marian Murphy, SHSp; Sister Mary Fagan, SHSp; Sister Marguerite Connors, SHSp; and Sister Gabriella Lohan, SHSp; had been called by God.

     “He has gifted you, formed you, and prepared you. He chose you to serve the needs of others out of obedience to the Father. A servant, he did not lord over anyone,” the bishop said, speaking directly to the five women.

    He told the team that the first reading at the Mass, Isaiah 49:1-6, reminds them to remain conscious of their role as a servant of the Lord.
    “There will be times when you feel you toil in vain, for nothing. If you keep your eyes on the Lord, the cross always leads to resurrection. He is your strength, in difficult decisions, he is your strength,” Bishop Jacobs emphasized. “Ask for vision. The Spirit reminds you he has given you all the gifts you need. Depend on the faith of the Lord. The vision of your foundress was total dependency on Divine Providence. Those who came before you lived in that dependency.”

    He explained that in the second reading, Acts of the Apostles 13:22-26, God raised up the congregation leaders, who will serve from 2007 to 2011, to carry out his every wish. “The daughters who come after you will continue the work of your foundress,” said the bishop. “It is a hard road, a lonely road. Point to Jesus and lead others to him.”

    In reviewing the Gospel reading, Luke 1:57-66, Bishop Jacobs described the role of the team as being obedient to the word of God. “Be in union with the Lord. Be women of prayer,” he said. “Lead the community in the direction God desires you to go. Pray as you say ‘yes’ to the call and the mantle passes on. You know God is going to lead you.”

    Following the remarks, a ritual of thanksgiving and blessing was held for the new congregational leadership, as well as for three outgoing members of the team who served from 2003 to 2007: Sister Veronica Cahill, SHSp, superior general; Sister Jo Murray, SHSp, local superior; and Sister Katrina Ruane, SHSp, councilor.

    The congregation, established in 1893, was a founding member of Texas Coalition for Responsible Investments and of Camino a la Paz, a collaborative effort of religious congregations in the San Antonio area to promote peace and justice. In 1987, the Holy Spirit Sisters were given the first Camino Peace and Justice Award for their efforts in promoting social justice.

    The order also actively participates in grassroots organizations to promote job training, drainage, better housing and education. They collaborate with organizations such as Merced Housing and Habitat for Humanity and have joined many collaborative efforts with other religious congregations and groups to establish cooperative ventures in retirement, health care and responsible investments.


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