"hear God's call and the voice of the poor" ST JEANNE ANTIDE is a Saint suited to modern taste a Saint with whom many young women today can identify. Though she was a women of her time, in revolutionary eighteenth century France, her mission has enduring qualities. She initiated services for the poor food, nursing care and education.
Today the Sisters of Charity, the Order she founded despite many hardships, are to be found working in missionary countries, in jails, with drug addicts, and those with AIDS and HIV as well as among the elderly, teenagers and families, in schools and hospitals, in parishes and in the streets.
If you want to live the Gospel, to foster Community love and to be a woman of prayer, risk, daring, trust, hope and strength, the mission of St. Jeanne Antide may well be for you. Today there are Sisters of Charity of St. Jeanne Antide serving the poorest of the poor in 25 countries and on four continents of the world.
Reaching out to young people
St. Jeanne Antide often said to young people: "When God calls, and His voice is heard, He gives all the graces necessary to answer that call." And again: "The Star of our vocation is at your door and above your house. If you have eyes and good will, you will see it and understand it."
To find out more about this remarkable woman and the work of her order in today's world, contact: Sr. Mary losephine O'Connor,
St. Jeanne Antid,e's Convent, 6, Woodfield Road, Ealing, London W5 1.5.7 THE CONGREGATION OF the Poor Sisters of Nazareth was founded in London in 1852 by Victoire Larmenier (Mother Sr. Basil). The work of the Sisters serviced the needs of the time to provide residential care for the aged poor and homes for deprived children.
After a rapid expansion in the British Isles, the Congregation extended to South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and America where, in all our Houses, the Sisters of Nazareth continue to devote their lives to caring for and giving a permanent home to the elderly and in some places, to teaching in our own schools or caring for children in need.
The word "Nazareth" sums up our spirit and charism. 'We endeavour to model our Communities on the Holy Family of Nazareth to live united in love of God and one another in joyful simplicity, humility and trust and we strive to have this selfless, caring spirit an:mate our apostolate to the elderly and the young.
Our work is about the celebration of life in every form of living about the quality of life at every age and so we are concerned for the spiritual as well as the material needs of our Residence in order that the evening of life may be for them, one of peace, security and happiness. Working for the elderly, whether in residential or skilled Nursing care, requires great compassion, dedication and understanding.
One factor to bear in mind is that one never outgrows one's need to be loved and understood and so the Sisters must be prepared to give themselves completely: they must strive to be ever-patient, to smile, to hold a hand, to listen with attention and to build up the elderly person's self-esteem and sense of worthiness through constant support, love and encouragement.
It is the special privilege of the Sisters to assist the elderly to surrender their lives freely and cheerfully to God at the end and to see death as a beautiful event a gateway to their transformation into Christ in glory and to help those who are terminally ill not to be frightened, depressed or lonely.
Prayer is the most essential element in our lives as Poor Sisters of Nazareth in fact, prayer is the powersource behind our apostolate and through it, we seek to perfect our love and dedication and are strengthened to carry out our duties to the old and young.
Doing all this for the love of God is not just a job but a vocation a holy ministry. It is a giving which brings an inner peace and love which surpasses all understanding and makes all of life including our own, more worthwhile.
Can you help the SPA fulfill their obligations?
A message from Mgr John Corcoran
National Director, SPA The number of priests continues to increase worldwide. In Nigeria, for instance, the number of diocesan priests more than doubled in the ten years up to 1993, increasing from 829 to 1,920. Every one of those priests is desperately needed by Nigeria's growing Church. During the same period the Catholic population more than doubled, to over 11 million people, while the number of missionaries drastically decreased.
This increase in priests is good news but a crisis follows in its wake. More priests means more seminarians. The number of major seminarians training for the diocesan priesthood in mission areas increased last year by 490, raising their numbers to 25,834. Each of these young men has to be educated, housed, clothed and fed.
In addition the SPA helps to train religious priests, brothers and sisters. Nigeria, for instance, has founded its own mission society, whose 90 missionary priests arc at work in 10 countries. Their seminary this year received maintenance grants of £43,000. Last year alone the SPA had to build 1 1 new major seminaries.
Fortunately, Catholics in England and Wales are responding to the escalating demands made on the SPA. Last year we were able to send overseas a creditable £689,950 an increase of £179,482 over 1994.
At the same time we managed to squeeze our administrative costs to just 3.1%, making us one of the most cost-efficient charities in the country. Yet despite our best efforts, excellent candidates for the priesthood are still being lost simply because there are not sufficient places in seminaries.
The bishops of Eastern Nigeria are looking to build a fourth seminary to ease congestion in the present buildings and cater for those unable to gain admittance. The Archbishop of Onitsha explained to mc that in his province there are 160 students in the first year of spiritual formation.
All have the requisite university entrance qualifications with five credits including English and have passed the diocesan and seminary selection boards but only 100 of them will be able to go to the seminary when the year ends. Similar examples can be provided from around the world.
The students do, of course, contribute to their own keep. In Bigard Memorial they grow crops, keep a poultry farm, repair furniture and maintain the seminary's plumbing and electrical systems. A student is trained in glazing and student paramedics help the 16 doctors who offer their services free of charge to the students. The seminary printing press not only prints for the college but also accepts outside work.
In Europe, where vocations arc decreasing we look askance at the Third World vocations boom and many ask whether those young men are becoming priests to escape poverty and unemployment. There is no doubt that the priesthood is held in high esteem in Nigeria and carries status.
But these arc not the reasons for the increase in vocations. Nigerians, like people throughout the developing world, are more spiritually aware than we are in the West and religion is an integral part of everyday lite.