In October Mission Doctors shared the story of the unlikely patron of Missions, St. Therese the Little Flower, who never left the confines of her convent – but was united in the work of missionaries through her prayers.
The other saint who is “Patron of Catholic Missions” is St. Francis Xavier, whose feast day is December 3rd. As one of the founders of the Society of Jesus, St. Francis Xavier served as a Missionary Priest working to share the good news of salvation with the people of India and Japan.
When I think of these two Patrons of Mission I also reflect on what we say about the work of Mission Doctors.
A Mission of Healing. A Partnership of Hope.
The Mission of Healing – the work of Mission Doctors who actively leave the comforts of home and security of jobs to care for the poor is the first part of what we say about Mission Doctors, the “Mission of Healing”. Like Francis Xavier, the doctors and their families are the ones who are actively involved in the mission of MDA.
The Partnership of Hope – is our partnership with those who pray and provide the financial gifts to support MDA. These people make the work of our dedicated doctors possible. Like St. Therese who prayed for all missionaries, all who work with us to provide the prayers and support are our vital partners today.
I am grateful that our Church has recognized both essential elements to Mission. One does not exist without the other. I have been told by some supporters, “I wasn’t able to go, so this is how I help.” as they share their gift. It is important to me to be sure that everyone understands how much we value both those who serve and those who make their service possible.
When St. Francis Xavier reached his first mission in India, he recognized the first thing he needed to do was minister to the sick and the children. Like Mission Doctors he knew that the physical wellbeing of individuals must be met to serve as a witness to the love of God.
I thank all the doctors who have done just this, leaving their homes to work in resource poor settings. St. Francis’ life is one that we can all look to – no matter where we are called to serve.
Loyola Press provides additional resources that not only give additional details on St. Francis’ life – but ways to take these lessons forward into our own: https://www.ignatianspirituality.com/ignatian-voices/16th-and-17th-century-ignatian-voices/st-francis-xavier-sj