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Words of Welcome for the Recollection Day on December 06, 2008

"Mission as Holy Folly"

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

n behalf of our Missionary Family of Steyl, I welcome you most sincerely to our day of recollection here, at the generalate of the Society of the Divine Word.

The 100th death anniversary of our Founder Arnold Janssen and one of the first missionaries to China, Joseph Freinademetz, is the motivation for us to reflect together on what these "Holy fools" have to say to us today. As a community of Sisters and Brothers who believe that today still, just as 100 years ago, it is worth squandering our life, so to speak, to continue the mission of Jesus. We belong to those who dare to live according to an alternative set of criteria, to risk everything on a single venture, believing that a different world is possible. Knowing that we, Steyl missionaries, are not alone in this, we have invited members of other congregations who share the same dream. We are pleased to see you here. We look forward to hearing what you will contribute to our common theme in the light of your own congregation's tradition and spirituality.

We do have to be a trifle crazy nowadays if we want to be players in God's comedy that frequently turns popular values upside down - serving instead of ruling, non-violent reaction in response to violence, voluntarily leaving home and family and venturing into a totally different culture and language, accepting the difficulties of an international community, risking one's life for the sake of the poor and oppressed, critical in the face of the slogans and trends of our times, and taking our orientation from the word of God. Our belief that we can achieve anything through our way of living and acting is facing a huge challenge in view of all that is making headlines right now: financial crisis, terror, wars, hunger, violence in the name of God...

I hope that our sharing will be fruitful. It would be great if we can go home at the end of the day with an even deeper conviction that it is worthwhile to be among those of the "Holy Folly", those who - like the saints of those days - cannot stop speaking of God and his Reign of love and justice, whether it is heard gladly or meets with resistance, those who take themselves and their task seriously but without self-importance; those who have a good deal of humor, because they trust that, for those who love him, God turns all to good.

May the Holy Spirit guide us in all this and gift us with openness for whatever he wishes to say to us through our Sisters and Brothers here.

Sr. Maria Theresia Hörnemann SSpS
Congregational Leader