In the first of two articles on the celebration of this centenary in Honduras, a Sister of the Messengers of the Immaculate Conception reminds us not only of the foundation of her Congregation but also of a contemporary missionary era in the history of our own, the Daughters of Jesus.
A celebration speech
We are grateful to God for having chosen Gemma Beaulieu (1923 – 1996) as the foundress of the Institute of the Messengers of the Immaculate Conception. God endowed her with the virtues and gifts of humility, faith, perseverance, love of the poor and of the Church. That is why we celebrate her life today on the occasion of the centenary of her birth. Her spirit lives on in our Congregation, encouraging us to go forward with the project of evangelisation that each of us, Sister Messengers, has in hand.
Today, we have the joy of having among us, Sr Ursule Beaulieu, niece and goddaughter of Sr Gemma, and herself a religious of the Congregation of the Daughters of Jesus. She has travelled from Canada to share this celebration. We thank her for her precious presence in this historic moment for the Sister Messengers.
Thank you to the Daughters of Jesus
Our gratitude goes to the Congregation of the Daughters of Jesus, for it was while she was still a Daughter of Jesus that Sr Gemma, formerly Sr Marie-Anna-du-Sauveur, felt the call to found the Messenger Sisters. God looked upon her to undertake a new project with many challenges, and it was God’s grace that invited her to continue until the end. Thanks to her testimony, we have learned to walk with courage and optimism despite the difficulties.
The historical context
The resume of the foundation of the Messengers which follows, is taken from the book, “Signed with a Cross” (Desclée, Paris, 1990) by Sr Henriette Danet, dj
Honduras was the first country in Latin America to welcome the Daughters of Jesus with the foundation of a community in Choluteca in January 1957. Alongside other religious, social, and educational axes, the new missionary sisters had faith very early on in the potential of young Honduran women for the religious life.
A novitiate was therefore opened in 1962, but “it soon became apparent that the style of the novitiate was ill-adapted to the country, the mentality and the temperament of the young aspirants“.
After a brief period of hesitation, the sister in charge took advice and it was suggested to her that an indigenous institute be created. After overcoming “opposition and other great obstacles “, the community of the Messengers of Mary Immaculate was inaugurated on the 21st of May 1964, with the status of an association.
Finally, in 1976 it obtained the status of a diocesan Institute in 1997, the founder, Gemma Beaulieu, made the painful choice to leave the Congregation of the Daughters of Jesus to commit herself definitively to the Institute of the Messengers.
Let us pray to the Lord of the harvest
Our Foundress will always be a precious treasure in the life and journey of our Institute. Her legacy is a great encouragement to continue this enterprising and hopeful project. Today, the Sisters of the Messengers of the Immaculate continue to serve with a charism inspired by Christ the servant and Mary Immaculate, the handmaid of the Lord.
We are present in several dioceses in Honduras and in a mission in Nicaragua, with many desires to further expand our missionary service in the Church. We pray to the Lord of the harvest to send us holy and true vocations to give continuity to the Institute of the Messengers of the Immaculate, founded with deep faith, love, and hope by Sister Gemma Beaulieu (Sister Mary Anna of the Saviour).
The Sisters of the Institute of the Messengers of the Immaculate ,