This year we are celebrating the Foundation Day of our Society in a unique and unusual
way. The crisis caused by Covid-19 does not stop us from celebrating this day that is
very dear to us. More than ever, we have all the reasons to thank God, who has been
closely accompanying our Congregation, also during this crisis.
Our Society was born out of a crisis that confronted the Church in Germany prompted by a
pervading political situation in that country. This situation of crisis offered an
opportunity for creativity, for bringing out something new. Saint Arnold responded to
those who were questioning his initiative to start a missionary congregation, saying,
"We live in a time when much is collapsing, and new things must be established in their
places." Trust in the Lord was Saint Arnold's habitual response to crises.
In the course of history, we experienced different crises, like wars and epidemics. The
tenure of Father Nicolaus Blum, the second Superior General of our Congregation, was
marked by two big crises: The First World War and the Spanish Flu. Towards the end of
the war, Fr. Blum exhorted the confreres with his three main concerns, namely, caring
for those coming back from the war, using judiciously our limited resources for our life
and mission, and fostering the spirit of unity.
I think these are also our concerns today to varying degrees. The first is how to care
for those who are infected with the COVID-19 virus. We remember and pray for our four
confreres who have lost their lives due to this virus. A total of 45 confreres have been
infected. Fortunately, most of them have recovered. A few are still in quarantine either
in the hospitals or at home. We include them, as well as our relatives and friends
affected by this pandemic, in our special prayers today. It is essential to continue to
be responsible for ourselves and others, especially our elderly confreres. Responsible
care will free us from being imprisoned in fear, and from being too negligent. Our care
is also extended to those who work with us, to the poor and the needy. I thank you for
your courage, and in collaboration with others, to reach out to those at the margins.
Despite the danger and the risks involved in such engagements, you have not abandoned
The second concern is how to use wisely and prudently our resources to sustain our
mission and life. It is primarily about our responsible way of dealing with our temporal
goods. We know that financial solidarity is one of our strengths. This solidarity is
sustained by honesty, accountability, and generosity in sharing these resources. It
starts with every single one of us giving what we receive and using well what we have.
Our solidarity begins when we listen to the question of Jesus to his disciples in Mark
6:38: "How many loaves do you have?" It is a challenge to honestly respond to his
question and disclose what we have with greater transparency. Our concern for our
resources leads us also to think about what nature provides us. The COVID-19 pandemic
uniquely opens our eyes to discover and realize how we are closely connected with
nature. We need to be consistent in our care for nature as our common home. Our last
General Chapter reminds us that "as transforming missionary disciples, stewardship of
creation is our responsibility in expressing God's love."
The third concern is how to sustain the spirit of unity. First of all, it is about being
united with the Lord. Like Saint Arnold, we put our trust in the Lord in facing all the
challenges in our life and mission. This time of crisis also makes us realize how
important it is that we remain united with our family members, confreres, Sisters of the
Arnoldian Family, mission partners, friends, and benefactors, including those under our
care and those who care for us. We are united in facing this unexpected situation. We
find ways to express our being connected, through communication media or other means. At
the same time, we also experience how fragile this unity can be. Excessive fear of being
infected can interfere with our community life and activities, and we may end up
avoiding or accusing one another, especially when one of us is found infected by this
virus. This spirit of unity widens our hearts and minds to be united with the whole
human family, to fight against any kind discrimination. Our living and working together
as people from different cultural backgrounds is a real witness in this situation
infected with increasing racism. Keeping the spirit of communion also means better
collaborating with others, with the Sisters, and with our lay mission partners.
Collaboration is only possible if there is humility to acknowledge that we are limited,
honesty to respect others, and courage to learn from and be enriched by them.
Dear Confreres, Sisters, Friends, Benefactors, and Lay Mission Partners,
Our Congregation is dedicated to the Word of God. The Word of God is the Word of hope
that opens new perspectives in moments of desperation, sparks light in darkness, gives
encouragement in times of disaster, and speaks the truth against the propagation of fake
news. Our name is our mission! Let us renew our commitment to proclaim the Word of God,
in words and deeds. The Divine Word remains the inspiration for our discernment on how
to respond to the crisis, what needs to be changed in our way of thinking and doing.
Through the intercessions of Saints Arnold and Joseph, Blessed Maria Helena and Josepha,
and our blessed martyrs, may this celebration strengthen our commitment to care for the
victims of the Pandemic, to use responsibly our resources and those of nature, and to
foster the spirit of unity and collaboration. May we creatively exercise our call to
mission in solidarity and compassion for the glory of the Divine Word. And may our
Blessed Mother, who is our matchless model in this regard, and whose nativity shelters
our foundation, continue to inspire us.