When Jesus summoned the twelve and told them he was sending them out two by two it was a kind of training mission. He gave them instructions as to what they should take with them; he told them to go to various places to stay there proclaiming the gospel and bring the gift of healing to those in need of it.
We will hear in next Sunday’s gospel that the twelve return having completed their mission and reported to Jesus all that they had done. After making their report Jesus said to them, now let us go to a deserted place and rest from their labors.
Since that time Jesus sent his disciples out as he did on the day he ascended into heaven, again giving them the commission to proclaim the Word. And after that time and for centuries since, more and more disciples have gone out to proclaim the gospel, bring healing to those in need, feeding the poor and caring for all those in need. Some of those we know about like Mother Frances Cabrini, who came to the United States and ministered to Italian immigrants. We also know about such great missionaries like St. Damien de Verster who went to the Island of Molokai and lived and ministered to the lepers. Their lives are well known but there are others who have done similar mission work in places all over the world. Let me share a few thoughts about a few of these.
One is St. Emilie de Villeneuve who was born in 1811 to a noble family in Toulouse, France. Her father died while she was quite young. Her mother who had always been a deeply religious person entered a convent and Emilie was placed in the care of her grandmother.
Emilie later joined an order of sisters commonly called ‘the blue Sisters of Castres’. Their ministry was that they opened their doors to young workers, the sick and even to convicts. It was at that time, in 1854, that a cholera outbreak in Castres drew the sisters into active ministry to the sick. Sister Emilie herself became sick and died of the epidemic. Saint Emilie was canonized and her feast day is October 3rd. Her life was not widely known but nonetheless she labored and gave her life for others.
Another champion of the gospel and servant of the poor is Mother Mary Teresa Tallon. She was born to Irish immigrant parents in 1867 near Utica, New York. She joined the Holy Cross Sisters at South bend, Indiana and for a time taught in Catholic schools. She felt a longing in her heart that she was called to a different ministry. For the rest of her life she ministered to lapsed Catholics, the estranged and uninstructed Catholics. This was the ministry she served for the rest of her life.
In 2013, Mother Tallon was declared a Servant of God, opening the way for her cause for canonization. There are so many men and women who have responded to the call of the Lord to serve him in so many different ways. And there are so many needs in our world, so many people in need of our care.