Holiness and Mission Are 2 Aspects of Following Christ, Says Pope

Address to the Congregation of Sisters of Notre Dame

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 11, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Holiness of life and mission are but two aspects of the commitment that every Christian is called to in following Jesus, says John Paul II.

The Pope highlighted this today when receiving the 70 participants in the 11th general chapter of the Congregation of Sisters of Notre Dame.

In his address to the religious, which he delivered in English, the Holy Father recalled the legacy left to the Church by the congregation’s founder, Dutch-born Sister Maria Aloysia Wolbring (1828-1889).

While still a young teacher, she founded the religious congregation with her colleague Elizabeth Kühling. The congregation was to be dedicated to the education of needy children.

Sister Maria Aloysia was part of the first group of women religious who went to the United States in 1874 as a result of the religious oppression of the “Kulturkampf” in Prussia.

She promoted the growth of her congregation there, while at the same time fulfilling her vocation of service to children. Sister Maria Aloysia is buried in Cleveland, Ohio.

John Paul II invited the founder’s spiritual daughters to “continue to embrace joyfully your call to holiness in the perfection of charity and to cherish, according to your own traditions, that asceticism proper to consecrated persons.”

“Your foundress,” he said, “… gave life to a new religious institute wholly inspired and sustained by God’s providential love.”

“After some time of generous service to her neighbor, she came to understand that the compassionate love of God for his children could shine ever more brightly in a life totally consecrated to the Lord,” he added.

“She saw from the beginning that both personal holiness and mission are inseparable aspects of the radical commitment to follow Christ,” the Holy Father said.

The general chapter, during which the religious congregation is revising its constitutions, offers “an opportunity to examine and renew your allegiance to that same vision and to the particular charism your foundress expressed in your spirituality and living traditions,” the Holy Father told the religious.

“This examination, undertaken in prayerful openness to the Holy Spirit, will assist you in determining those aspects of your institute which should be strengthened so as to give an even clearer witness to God’s unfailing love,” he said.

The Pope took leave of the sisters encouraging them to “preach the Good News effectively by being fully what you are, and by bringing that reality to all peoples.”

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