MISSIO Scotland staff were among those who joined in the celebrations of the 125th anniversary of the foundation of the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of St Peter Claver (SSPC) recently at Sacred Heart Church in Bellshill.
The Mass of Thanksgiving was principally celebrated by Bishop Joseph Toal of Motherwell, who was joined by many fellow diocesan priests—including Missio Scotland National Director, Fr Vincent Lockhart—to mark the anniversary in the presence of the Scottish contingent of the SSPC, local parishioners, family and friends.
The congregation was founded on April 29, 1894 after Blessed Mary Theresa Ledóchowska’s new project was blessed by Pope Leo XII. At the time she was 31 years old and had given up her life of prestige at the palace of the Archduke and Archduchess of Tuscany. Inspired by the work of Cardinal Lavigerie and the anti-slavery movement, she sought to restore the image of God in every person who is persecuted and oppressed. Through her words and her writings, she endeavoured to make known to Christians in Europe the deplorable situation in Africa, especially that of African women.
Her work brought her into contact with missionaries working throughout the African continent and as a result of this, she began to understand the necessity of support from ‘behind the scenes’ for missionaries. She involved thousands of lay people in her work and within a short time opened numerous branch houses in various European countries. The congregation soon extended its activity of missionary cooperation to other continents and its members currently work on five continents in accordance with the specific charism of their foundress, that is, missionary animation, which aims to inform and form Christians to cooperate in the evangelising activity of the Church.
During his homily, Bishop Toal paid tribute to the vision of Blessed Mary Theresa, while also praising the work of the congregation in Scotland down through the years, including the likes of Sr Stacey Cameron, who form many years worked for Missio Scotland.
“Celebrating 125 years is a reminder of the gift of God that inspired our foundress and has allowed our Congregation to grow and develop in these years,” Sr Stacey said. “It gives hope and confidence for the future—that God will continue to sustain and lead us.”
For more information of the work of the Missionary Sisters of St Peter Claver: https://www.claveriansisters.com