“Keep your gaze fixed on Jesus Christ and learn from him how to love with a truly human heart, to care for the lost and hurting members of his flock, to work for justice and show solidarity with the weak and the poor,” Pope Francis said in a private audience to participants of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart (MSC) General Chapter last Saturday.
Above: Pope Francis meets with Fr. Ray Diesbourg, USA Provincial
Every few years, Missionaries of the Sacred Heart around the world send delegates to Rome, Italy, for the MSC General Chapter. This year, the MSC USA Province sent two delegates: Fr. Raymond Diesbourg, M.S.C. and Fr. Michael Miller, M.S.C. (Provincial Council Member and Pastor of St. Therese of Jesus in Aurora, IL).
The motto that guided preparation for the Chapter was “You have kept the good wine until now” (Jn 2:10) and in his address to participants, Pope Francis noted that the situation of the world has changed and presented new challenges to evangelization which “demand and give rise to new ways of offering the “good wine” of the Gospel to many people as a source of joy and hope.”
Participants in the General Chapter are charged with identifying key themes to the continued carrying out of our MSC vision and mission and electing the next Superior General. At this year’s General Chapter, the key themes that emerged included: formation of the human person; our work with the laity; integrity in ministry; justice, peace and integrity of creation; child safeguarding and communications for the 21st century.
As participants worked to discern the concrete steps the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart need to take in order to respond to the signs of the times, Pope Francis’ remarks were both uplifting and challenging. In addition to working for justice and showing solidarity with the weak and the poor, he underscored the need to resist the temptation of clericalism, to enter into greater communion with the laypersons who participate in our apostolate, and to undertake new initiatives in the Christian formation of young people.
Above: Pope Francis with Participants in the MSC General Chapter, September 16, 2017
Exhorting our missionary priests and brothers “to go forth to all those places where people are in need of acceptance and assistance,” His Holiness also encouraged us to continue to foster the devotion to the Sacred Heart “and to make it bear fruit through a variety of works and activities that witness to the tender and merciful love of Jesus for all, especially those in greatest need.”
He reminded those present that “This is the first Gospel that the Church entrusts to you by sending you out as missionaries to the world: to show by your lives and by your works the passionate and tender love of God for the little ones, the underprivileged, the vulnerable and those whom our world has discarded.”
Above, the new MSC Superior General and Council. From left: Frs. Humberto Henrique da Silva (Brazil); Paulus Laurentius Pitoy (Indonesia), Absalón Alvarado Tovar (Guatemala, Superior General), André Claessens (Belgium), and Christopher Chaplin (Australia).
Congratulations also to Fr. Michael Miller who was appointed as the Secretary General by Fr. Tovar and the General Council. Fr. Miller is delighted to take on this new role and will be moving to take up his new role in Rome in February 2018.
We ask that you please keep our new Superior General, Fr. Absalón Alvarado Tovar, M.S.C., his Council, and Fr. Miller in your prayers as they prepare to address the challenges and to carry out the insights from the General Chapter and our Audience with Pope Francis.
Above: Pope Francis greets Fr. Absalón Alvarado Tovar, the newly elected Superior General of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart.