United With Mary Standing at the Foot of the Cross: Sr. Kathleen Stakelum, MSC
I was present at the Congregational Chapter Session when the phrase United with Mary standing at the foot of the cross was added to the beginning of the Marianites of Holy Cross Mission Statement. The phrase was a way to tap into and express the spirituality which was developed from the very beginning of our congregation when our founder, Blessed Basil Moreau, dedicated the sisters to Our Lady of Seven Dolors.
I came to appreciate this statement in a new way when the sister I was living with was diagnosed with cancer. Day after day as I prayed for her and accompanied her to diagnostic tests, the phrase United with Mary standing at the foot of the Cross came to me. I felt that I was not alone, that Mary who stood with Jesus stood with me as I in turn stood with my sister in her suffering. I also felt the presence of community through prayer. That experience has come to me since then whenever I find myself feeling helpless before the suffering of others around me.
In my present ministry as Formation Director the mission statement is crucial in explaining to potential new members what our community is aboutwe are apostolic women of prayer and compassion. One of the things that draws some of the women Ive talked to is the sense of compassion for those who suffer and a desire to make a difference, as we say, to be a prophetic presence in an ever-changing world. They look to see how we are doing that and how we resolutely stand with those who are excluded. The particular ways we do thatthrough education, social ministry, health care, pastoral service at nursing homes, retreat ministry or spiritual direction, youth ministry, adult education, campus ministry, parish ministry, ministry of prayer and presence, etc. are ways of expressing the attitude of heart which leads us to notice those who are being left behind or excluded in society. We then open our hearts and minds to them in a way that enables them to improve conditions for themselves and others.
Our MSC mission statement begins and ends with the posture of standing. By uniting with Mary standing at the foot of the cross, we receive the grace to stand with those who are excluded in our world today. We stand in solidarity, ready to respond in action.