The Mission Hub

The Pontifical Mission Societies include the Society for the
Propagation of the Faith, the Missionary Childhood Association, the Society of St.Peter Apostle, and the Missionary Union of Priests and Religious. These Societies promote a prayerfulmissionary spirit among baptized Catholics and to gather a fund of support for the evangelizing and pastoral programs of more than 1,150 local churches of the Developing World.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

From Slavery to Freedom; From Death to New Life

As I write these words, the Church is celebrating the feast of one of our newest saints—Saint Josephine Bakhita. Saint Josephine was born in Darfur, Sudan around 1870. When she was nine years old, she was kidnapped by slave traders and sold into a life of abject misery. From that point forward, until she was sold to a second owner in 1882, she endured beatings and horrendous mistreatment at the hands of multiple “masters.” In 1882 her life gained some stability because she was pressed into service for the Italian consul in Darfur whose wife treated her kindly. Ultimately her “master” and his family returned to Italy and brought her with them.

It was here that Josephine learned about the Christian faith and began an earnest search for a relationship with another kind of “master”—one who, like herself, knew mistreatment, beatings, and death. She came to know Christ and to accept him into her life. She was baptized in 1890, given her freedom, and in 1896 became a member of the Canossian Sisters, a relatively new religious community.
She was assigned to a convent in Schio and served the community as the door keeper of the convent. In this capacity, she became a missionary without ever leaving her home. Her interactions with visitors to the convent gave her the opportunity to share her faith with countless men, women, and children who came to know her as Madre Moretta, or “Black Mother.” Her final years were marked by ever-growing periods of declining health and she was called home to God on February 8, 1947. She was canonized by Pope John Paul II on October 1, 2000.

Saint Josephine Bakhita’s life is a testimony to the power of God and His grace. From her difficult and tragic beginnings, she grew into a strong and dynamic relationship with Christ that enabled her to share her faith with others. The effects of that graced relationship continue to bear fruit. Yesterday, February 7th, the people of South Sudan, who have struggled to gain their independence for generations, have finally gained it. Sudanese President Omar al Bashir has accepted the decision of the people of South Sudan to separate and form their own nation. Like Josephine herself, the citizens of South Sudan are finally free.

We pray that their new found freedom brings them closer to the faith that St. Josephine spread daily with her words and witness.

-Rev. Rodney J. Copp, JCL

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