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"Holiness is not the luxury of a few. It is everyone's duty: yours and mine."  ~Mother Teresa

30th Anniversary


30th Anniversary of the Lay Missionaries of Charity
Fr. Sebastian Vazhakala M.C.

Thirty years ago it was on 16th April 1984, Monday in holy Week, that the movement of the Lay Missionaries of Charity began in Rome, in the Mother house and Generalate of the Missionaries of Charity-Contemplative, in the presence of Bl. Teresa of Kolkata. There were just four married people: two men and two women with whom the Lord began his little Branch on the main Branch of the Missionaries of charity.

Looking back with gratitude, the following are some basic things which became evident with time, reflection and prayer.

First of all, the tiny group of four married people, two men and two women, made their vows to God in the presence of Bl. Teresa of Kolkata M.C., to whom Jesus from the Cross and in the presence of his beloved Mother entrusted the M.C. Spirit, the M.C. Charism and the M.C. Way of life as we see in her letter written on 3rd December 1947. Her presence was not simply a passive one; she very actively, prayerfully and personally participated in the profession Mass. This can be seen also from some of the photos of the vows of the first group of the Lay Missionaries of Charity (LMC). She made them sign their vow formula on the altar. We can also see that she too signed the formula with the words “In my presence”. Her presence and her active participation, her joy and her appreciation were all signs from God to say that the LMC Movement is an integral part of the M.C. Charism and the M.C. Family.

This understanding is important not only for the LMCs themselves and for the members of the Contemplative Branch, but also for the entire M.C. Family. If there are misunderstandings, mistreatments, indifferences toward the existence and growth of the LMC Movement by any Branches of the M.C. Family, it may be necessary to know that they are going against their own charism. Division, disunity and competitions can never be proper solutions nor can they help one really to grow in the true spirit of Jesus and produce fruit that will last.

Fear is useless. What we need is fraternal dialogue and mutual help, without which we cannot really help people to become holy. In some sectors I am told there is a noticeable competition and rivalry. Let us pray as Jesus prayed: “I pray that they may all be one. Father, may they be in us, just as you are in me, and I am in you. May they be one, so that the world will believe that you sent me” (Ju 17:21).

In the unconditional response without any “if” or “but” of Bl. Teresa of Kolkata M.C. to Jesus on the Cross, is also present in the response of every LMC. Besides, in her letter written from Asansol in March 1947, she mentions explicitly that “The institute will be especially for the unity and happiness of family life…Tell the Holy Father (pope Pius XII) about the countless broken homes, here in India, in Kolkata, everywhere. It is to make these unhappy homes happy – to bring Jesus into their dark homes that our Lord wants me and the Sisters to give our lives as victims for homes. By our poverty, labour and zeal we shall enter every home, gather the little children from these unhappy homes…”

No wonder then, that Bl. Teresa M.C. showed so much interest in the LMC Movement from its very start and continued it until her last breath. Bl. Teresa wrote: “…Tell the LMCs that they are in my prayers. We have a light burning for them also at adoration…” (Bl. Teresa’s letter to Fr. Sebastian M.C., 31.01.1990). Before she left Rome for the last time, on 19th July 1997, from the airport she wrote: “My dear Lay Missionaries, keep the joy of loving by serving him in the poor. God bless you. M. Teresa M.C.”.

Secondly, the LMC Movement was born out of a prayer group, the members of which not only tried to learn the art of prayer, meditation and contemplation, but also studied some of the official teachings of the Magisterium of the Church on lay people and family: The vocation and mission of lay people in the contemporary world, their spirituality and their growth.

It became evident that the lay people are no longer considered to be third class citizens of heaven…But the call to holiness is a universal one (Lumen Gentium, Chapter five). All are meant to be candidates for holiness as all of us are created in God’s image and likeness (cf. Gen 1:26). In this context it is important to study the document “Christifideles Laici”, the apostolic exhortation of Bl. John Paul II, given on 30.12.1988, on the feast of the holy Family.

Thirdly the LMC Movement began on Monday in holy Week. There is a lot to reflect upon this fact, especially the readings of the holy Mass of Monday in holy week. I would like every LMC to go back and read, especially the first reading and the gospel of Monday in the holy week.

The first reading speaks of the character of a servant. What kind of servant was he? Please read it very carefully. Some of us may not like to be servants any more because of the past experiences. But let us not forget that the first step to canonization is to be the “Servant of God”. Bl. Teresa M.C. was declared to be the “servant of God” for about four or more years, before she was declared “Blessed”. So also Bl. John Paul II, who too was “Servant of God” for a few years…Let us see Jn 12:1-8 and compare it with Mt 26:6-13, Mk 14:3-9, Lk 7:36-50.

Fourthly the first group of four LMCs were two men and two women. This too is important to note. Among the first four, Mrs. Annarosa went home to God although she was not the first LMC to die, but Mr. Ugo Consoli in Rome and Tom Ryan in New York. Franco Coletti is now a permanent deacon. The two others, Mrs. Paradise LMC and Antonio LMC belong to the group of Rome.

Fifthly the three names…Mr. Antonio Serangeli and his wife Annarosa Santi: “Serangeli“ means Angels and “Santi” means saints. Theoretically by name they were meant to be a wonderful couple to start the LMC group with. What does this mean? God wants all LMCs to aim at living like angels and saints. In this way they can be with Jesus in Paradise. The fourth member’s name is Paradisa, which means paradise. God created us to live with him in Paradise. All LMCs are called to live for heaven, for Paradise. Jesus from the Cross used the word paradise for heaven (cf. Lk 33:43).

So many of you have sent prayerful regards, hearty congratulations, expressing your heart-felt gratitude to God for the gift of the LMC Movement. The LMC group in Rome came together on Palm Sunday and expressed our gratitude to God, together with the first LMCs: Mrs. Paradisa Orlandi LMC and Mr. Antonio Serangeli LMC, with our brothers, our poor people. We also prayed very specially for all the LMCs of the world. We felt very strongly the presence of Bl. Teresa M.C. We also prayed for all the departed LMCs who must be singing praises to God, together with the holy Angels and saints. We continue to pray for the suffering LMCs in Purgatory if there are any. We never know.

On Wednesday 16th April 2014, we again had a special Mass celebrated to thank God for the gift of the LMC Movement. We brought all the LMCs of the world to the Holy Family chapel and expressed our gratitude to God for all.

I would also like all the LMCs in each group, when you meet next, if you have not done already, offer a holy Mass of thanksgiving to God for the gift of the LMCs, including the M.C. Sisters if they are around you, and the spiritual Director(s). During your national retreats, please set aside a day of thanksgiving for the past 30 years, during which God has bestowed on all the LMCs innumerable blessings and graces.

The Italian national retreat will be from Thursday 26th to Sunday 29th June 2014. While expressing our gratitude we also need a day of atonement for all our failures, sins and short-comings. Here in Rome we will have Friday, 27th June 2014 the Day of Atonement and on Saturday 28th June the day of thanksgiving.

I would like to conclude these few reflections by wishing each and every one of you a very happy and grace-filled Easter. Let us overcome evil not with evil, but evil with good, hatred with love, pride with humility, poverty and charity…

Love and prayers. God bless you.