“Faces of Mission” is a bi-weekly blog series produced by the United States Catholic Mission Association highlighting our membership and all their work in and for mission. This week we feature Sr. Mary McGlone, CSJ, a former Board President of USCMA, who recently attended Mission Congress 2015 and shared her story.
About Sr. Mary McGlone, CSJ
Sr. Mary McGlone, CSJ is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. She has been actively involved mission work in multiple places around the world, in very different circumstances. Her story is one that teaches us how even those who are part of the Church need to be served as well.
Shortly after Sr. Mary made her final vows, she went to work as a missioner, serving alongside other Sisters at their Vice Province in Peru. Although she realized that she had been a missioner since her Baptism, it was while working in Peru that she fell in love with mission, and she remained there for the next seven years.
Peru was not Sr. Mary’s only experience with mission. She also spent some time in Ecuador working with FUVIRESE, a foundation to serve people with disabilities. Then about 25 years ago, she was invited to go to Romania and help Sisters coming out from behind the Iron Curtain. She was hesitant at first because she knew Spanish and did not know much about Romania, but she eventually agreed to go. Sr. Mary and Sisters of St. Joseph from other Congregations worked with Sisters together on the local and national levels.
When Sr. Mary first arrived in Romania, the Provincial asked each of them what they did, and Sr. Mary told her that she taught theology. They immediately recruited her to teach New Testament every morning and afternoon until they left. Sr. Mary points out that although they were speaking to consecrated religious Sisters, “Vatican II was like a rumor they had heard about. Theirs had been an underground church, behind the iron curtain, out of touch with the life of the worldwide Church. They even typed their own prayer books on typewriters that were checked by the security police to make sure they were only being used for what they said they were being used for.” These Sisters desperately needed help getting acquainted with what the rest of the world and the Church had been doing. That was the missionary challenge Sr. Mary and her companions were faced with.
When the time came for Sr. Mary and the other US Sisters to return to the United States, one of the young Sisters from Europe who spoke English accompanied them to the airport, and their conversation took an astonishing turn. Sr. Mary’s Congregation no longer wore a formal habit, whereas most of the Sisters they met in Romania did wear the habit. Sr. Mary asked the young Romanian Sister if she thought more Sisters or fewer would wear the formal habit in the future. The Sister answered eagerly, “All of them will! It’s a sign of freedom!” This surprised Sr. Mary, because, as she points out, “It’s exactly the same value expressed in opposite ways. For them it’s the sign of freedom that you can be religious, whereas for us it’s a sign of freedom to be able to relate to people without any barriers.”
Being Willing To Go Where Needed
Sr. Mary’s story is one that tells us of the importance of the universal Church and how we can all minister to each other. Even when you go to another, unknown part of the world, you can still use your skills and serve all of those who truly need your help.
The United States Catholic Mission Association (USCMA) is the only association of US Catholic mission-sending and mission-minded organizations and individuals. Dedicated to supporting and promoting the domestic and international mission efforts of the Church in the US, USCMA provides a forum in which people with a variety of experiences in mission can find a welcome, celebrate their faith, reflect on the signs of the times, foster leadership within mission organizations, explore emerging trends in mission, stimulate creative mission practices, and challenge one another to live lives more deeply rooted in mission spirituality.
USCMA is a membership-based organization. Our members are involved in establishing the direction of the association and supporting its life. To learn more about the United States Catholic Mission Association and to become a member, please visit us at our website http://www.uscatholicmission.org. Follow us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/uscatholicmission) and Twitter (@USCMA_DC).