A message for August 15, our founding day, from our provincial director, Fr. Jeffrey Kirch, C.PP.S.
On August 15, 1815, St. Gaspar began what he would call his Institute and what we call the Missionaries of the Precious Blood. We call him our founder but I wonder if he would have used that word. It might have seemed grandiose for the small group that was with him at the very start of our Congregation in Giano, Italy.
Certainly he would have wanted to know that 207 years later, we are still carrying on the mission he set for himself and his Missionaries. You can see in his writings how much he loved the Congregation and wanted his Missionaries to give all that they had to their ministry. St. Gaspar left many letters, including his circular letters, meant to be passed among the priests, brothers and students as they gathered for their annual retreat.
In one such letter from 1830, he describes how a Missionary should live. A Missionary “filled with the true spirit of God, will become an instrument in the hands of the Lord. . . (A Missionary’s) bearing should be dignified and humble, prudent, simple and patient. There will be no room for rivalries, disputes, vanity or self-interest. The only interests that will animate us are God’s glory and the good of others and of ourselves.”
Dignified and humble, prudent, simple and patient. It does not sound like a list with a lot of star power. Yet we can find value in those quiet virtues, even if we do not achieve them every day. We can also add others to the mix: passionate, committed, hopeful. In all these ways we can remain faithful to the call that St. Gaspar heard so many years ago, the call to hear God’s voice, to experience God’s mercy in our own lives, and to pass along that mercy, light and reconciling love to all of God’s sons and daughters.
Fr. Jeffrey Kirch, C.PP.S., is the provincial director of the United States Province.