Our Founder today, no 10 - 2011
Mission as fidelity
Fr Giuseppe Brusegan SMA, a member of the Italian Province, is rightly recognised as a man well-versed in the writings and ideas of the SMA Founder, Bishop Marion de Brésillac. Now based at the SMA House in Feriole, near Padua, Itasly, Fr Giuseppe previously served as a missionary in the Ivory Coast and Argentina.
For many years he was also part of the Formation staff at the International Spiritual Year Centre in Calavi, Benin Republic where he helped in the training of many of our African and other SMA priests. At the end of that Year those who are admitted to (temporary, one year) membership in the Society take an Oath. We are approaching the 152nd Anniversary of the death of our Founder and his companions in Freetown, Sierre Leone - on 25 June 1859. De Brésillac had founded the Society less than three years before. It was to be a baptism of blood for the new missionary Society dedicated to the service of Africa.
Fr Giuseppe shares with us some thoughts on the Oath every SMA priest and brother have taken - during the formation years and on the day they became permanent members of the Society. It was in the spirit of this Oath that de Brésillac and his companions offered their very lives after just a few weeks in Africa.
"As I hear about all that is happening in Libya and in general in the Arab world, it makes me think also of our brothers and sisters in Ivory Coast at this time and I ask myself what can I do and what would I have done if I were in their situation.
I recently received a letter from a friend in (Sr Giuliana) in Ivory Coast, in which she wrote: “Some one has asked me if I would leave as many other foreigners have done. I replied that I am staying here in my mission country among the people as they are my personal friends; I will stay with these brothers and sisters in their moment of difficulty in their history which has also become my history.”
Mission as fidelity means staying with your people to the bitter end.
In this month of June, which is rich in memories for all SMA members – the death of the Founder and his first companions, and for many of us, the month in which we took our Oath – I was inspired to read again the text of the Oath, which I make a source for my prayer. It helps me to return to the source of my missionary motivation, to the idea of faithfulness and ‘staying with it’. AS a result I want to share the following with you:
Called by the Lord: it was God who called and chose us for this special vocation.
To announce the Gospel to the nations, especially in Africa: this is our specific vocation as SMA’s and as disciples of de Brésillac.
Knowing the aim of the SMA: we are missionaries – ad extra, ad gentes, ad vitam – and we live in a family, in a missionary community, as part of the SMA.
I swear to remain; to pitch my tent in this community and to live there, to remain in good times and bad.
To take part in its missionary life and activity: not to be a spectator but an activist. It’s my family and I wish to be an active member of it, to give it the best of myself.
I shall accept the tasks entrusted to me by my Superiors: to show a spirit of obedience, of service… to accept the task and make it my own… and to do it with love.
I promise to follow Christ: to be his disciple, his pupil; to place my footsteps in his and follow his path.
To strive for the perfection of Charity: holiness which is the common vocation of all Christians, I will strive to grow in it as de Brésillac did.
Through the announcing of the Gospel: to be faithful to my Christian vocation and to witness to Christ.
The witness of celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom: with a heart undivided, entirely given to Christ.
By the observance of the Constitutions: with fidelity to the spirit of our SMA community, to its charism and its spirituality.
May God be witness to this commitment: I offer myself to the Lord and consecrate myself to him, drawn to Him in a new way. I become a consecrated person; my baptismal consecration is directed publicly in this special direction. I become in the intimacy of my heart… a missionary given totally to Him for ever… my baptismal consecration takes on an institutional force in this public declaration of a life given to Him. I am a sign of the Salvific Love of God; give by God and for God, to those He wishes… for me to where ever I am sent as a missionary.
We see the ‘mission’ above all as action, helping, building until the moment when it is no longer possible.
The visit of Mary to Elizabeth, is to me a paradigm for mission! The simple greeting of Mary to Elizabeth becomes for Elizabeth a declaration that the child Mary is carrying will Reign! The secret which she has with him she communicates all alone. Certainly there is the Spirit, who afterwards, will sing to Mary. But all that is to go, to salute, to stay, to serve. Let the explicit proclamation of the Gospel move forward".
Fr Giuseppe Brusegan SMA, SMA Padua, Italy