As Parish Visitors of Mary Immaculate, we:
- Visit families for person-to-person evangelization/catechesis
- Strengthen weak and broken homes
- Seek out stray Catholics to bring them back to the Church
- Hold religion classes for children and adults
- Promote the Rosary and devotions in home
- Help the needy obtain social service assistance
- Visit hospitals, jails, courts and other institutions on behalf of families
- Nurture the growth of Basic Ecclesial Communities or BEC (Philippines)
- Guide and assist immigrants (USA)
- Rescue boys and girls from moral danger
- Direct young people to helpful associations and wholesome recreation
The Parish Visitors Seek Souls for the Good Shepherd
“The opportunity that we have as Religious missionaries – traveling missionaries, visiting missionaries – to meet the people and to scatter the seed which is the Word of God, is very unusual.
“In giving out this seed for Our Lord we may have a remarkable confidence, even though we humbly and truthfully know that we are but poor human beings in ourselves. Because of Him Whom we serve and Whose Word we carry, which is ‘spirit and life,’ we can always have the utmost confidence of doing good.
“No matter what the world thinks or how differently the world acts from our idea, we should not be influenced, but use our utmost effort to do all the more in proportion as the world is set against it.
“The better-disposed people are really yearning for the Word of God and we may be sure this yearning is the divine influence working in their souls. We are sometimes even surprised at the generous response we get. How ready the people are to listen and to melt into tears, and to acknowledge how wrong they were, and how they wish they had done thus and so with their lives. And all these thoughts are the shoots of the seed; the fertile soil is there and the very desire and response of the people show how glad they are to cooperate. Now this divine seed is the Word of God, and the Word of God has come to us directly from the Heart of Christ.”
Spring to Fall
by Sr. Mylene Rosemarie, P.V.M.I.
I love spring. It's always a time of new hope, a new beginning. Trees, plants, grass and flowers are again coming to life. Birds are flying back home from the south to enjoy their old home. Front doors are left open to let cool breezes come in and freshen up homes that have been locked up during the long, cold winter.
It was during this season of new life that I met Joshua in his friend’s house where I was visiting at the time. Joshua had been away from the Father’s house for over 35 years. At first he was very uninterested in joining our conversation, but he was kind enough to answer some of my questions.
"I don’t believe in the Trinity. Besides, you don’t have to believe in Jesus or the Holy Trinity to be saved."
I tried to convince him of our need for Jesus in order to receive the grace we need to do God’s Will. But Joshua was very stubborn about listening to me.
To prevent an argument, I said, “Joshua, even if I could tell you all about the faith of the Catholic Church, you may still not believe. I can’t change your heart; only God can do that. But, you have to open the door of your heart. Here is a picture of Jesus knocking on a door. It is your heart. I want you to keep this.”
“Jesus wants you to come back to Him. He loves you. If it takes a lot of penance for you to come back to Him, I will make the sacrifices. For my penance, I will fast at meals until I see you in Church.”
Of course, I didn’t intend to starve to death, but Joshua took it very seriously. Poor Joshua was so worried that I would probably starve to death that he came on the next Sunday to attend Mass. It was his first time to enter our parish Church. I sat beside him and I knew it was spring!
Months passed and I didn’t hear from him. I couldn’t find a trace of him and I didn’t have his address. One of his friends didn’t want to give me his address. “Lord, help me find Joshua!” was my prayer.
It was fall and I had just come back to the convent from my home visit when I saw his friend again. He said that Joshua was dying from cancer and was under hospice care. Without wasting time, I went to see him. Although he was almost too ill to speak, Joshua said that he wanted to go to confession and receive the anointing of the sick. God’s merciful love is so great that Joshua received the Sacraments just two days before he died. And, he asked to be buried in the Catholic Church.
For the second time, we were together in the same church. Farewell Joshua. May your soul rest in peace.
In the final greeting of the funeral Mass, we prayed, “We sing for his departure from this life and separation from us, but also because there is a communion and a reunion. For even dead, we are not at all separated from one another, because we all run the same course and we will find one another again in the same place. We shall never be separated, for we live for Christ as we go toward Him…we shall all be together in Christ.” (St. Simeon of Thessalonica, Catechism of the Catholic Church #1690)
A Day's Walk
City streets and suburban roads are the fields where Our Lord wants me to go. Come with me today as I recall a day’s walk in the fields of a Parish Visitor.
My Prayer: Come, Lord Jesus! Fill my heart with true Christian love for whomever answers this doorbell. Help me spell out Your love for whomever I visit. In Your name I wait for this door to open.
The door opens; I am invited to sit in the kitchen with my new friend.
“Sister,” she says, with young, tired eyes, “this year has been a disaster. My husband won’t quit drinking. I don’t understand what’s gotten into him. He’s not the man I married. And, I can’t take it any more. All we do is argue; and what it’s doing to our son scares me.”
Comfort her, Lord! Let her hear You. Put Your words in my mouth. Convince her that there is hope, Your true hope!
“I would like to meet your husband. Just tell him that a Sister came visiting all the homes in the neighborhood and she would like to meet with him as well. Say that I will come back to see him and the others I have missed.
“Call me to arrange a convenient time. If I don’t hear from you in a couple of days, I’ll call you. And remember, the Sisters and I are praying for you and your family.”
As I said goodbye, I noticed that her eyes had lost some of their fatigue. God was at work.
A few visits later, I rapped the brass door knocker. No answer. Again I knocked, just the usual sound of a friend come a’visiting.
The door was opened only enough to guarantee that I would hear the man’s words: “I’m not interested in talking to you, Sister.”
He closed the door, but re-opened it, seeing through the door curtains that I had not moved. “I’m not interested in talking to you, Sister,” he repeated. “I’ve lost touch with the Church; I should say the Church lost touch with me. The Catholic Church I knew and loved is gone.”
Reach out to him, Lord, through me. Call him forth as you called Lazarus. Help him forgive those who have sown confusion. Give me Your words so that he will gain the patience to accept Your will and return to the fold.
“The Church hasn’t changed. The Mass hasn’t changed. The Sacraments haven’t changed. But so many hearts have changed,” I explained. “So many have said, ‘My will now. I have tried Your Will: now it’s my turn.’” My friend listened and I spoke about the unchanging, unchangeable Church. As we parted, I gave him a holy card of the Sacred Heart and a parish bulletin.
“Thank you, Sister,” my friend said, and gently closed the door, looking pensively at the holy card.
“Sister, do you really believe in prayer?” the elderly lady at the next house asked.
“Do you think God ever really answers? Look at this bundle of prayer leaflets. They’re frayed and worn, because I’ve read them over every night for years. And yet nothing I pray for happens.”
Lord, teach her to pray! Help me tell her the meaning of “Ask and you shall receive.”
“Prayers are always answered by God, because God always listens and always loves. Every prayer is answered. But our wants are not always our needs. And our greatest need is to love God. Surely that is why God the Son died on the Cross, to give love that will last until and beyond the end of time.”
“Life is so empty since my husband died,” said the lady in the house that sorely needed painting. “I thought that when his sufferings ended and he was finally at peace, I would be at peace too. But now I feel desperate again. It isn’t at all like I had hoped. I didn’t know how empty life would be without him.”
We sat on the couch next to each other. I held her hand; she wept.
Comfort her, Lord. Call her by the name You have given her. Fill this home with Your presence and touch her heart with a knowledge of Your nearness. Show me now how to teach her what the communion of saints really means.
I told her about the Holy Family and the sorrow that Mary must have felt after Joseph’s death…And her greater sorrow at the foot of the Cross. But what joy followed! Let Jesus fill the emptiness; visit Him in church; receive Him in Holy Communion. As we parted, I gave her a holy card of the Sacred Heart. “I’ll be back soon, in a few days.” She smiled.
“No, definitely no! I’ll never darken the door of a confessional again. You’ve never been insulted in the confessional like I was… You don’t know how I felt!”
Help us, Lord! Help us both this very minute! Help me guide his heart so that he will return to meet You through a priest and have his burden of sin removed. Help me teach him forgiveness!
“You’re right; I don’t know how you feel. But I do know how it feels when words injure someone. Let’s let God judge the priest, while we concentrate on what’s best for you.”
I knew that this would require more than one visit. As we said goodbye, I thanked God for His words and His strength.
After visiting other homes, I came to the home of a woman who welcomed me into her home as if we were dear friends, “Come into our den, Sister. I want you to see where we pray. I know that praying the Rosary is supposed to be out of style, but that’s not true for this house.
“My oldest son made that rack in his woodwork class,” she continued. “We each have a hook to keep our rosary ready. Every night after supper my husband and I come in here and begin praying the Rosary. We never tell the boys to join us, yet all four of them are here almost every night. Oh, they may not have time for all five decades and they know they can leave quietly at any time. They are sure to be here straight through just before exams, or when they have some other special intention in mind.”
Oh, God, dear God, thank You, Father, Son and Holy Spirit for guiding me to all of the people You have let me touch with Your words. Amen.
The Boy Who Loved Animals
I was walking up the stairs of an old apartment house, and a boy of about ten was running down. I greeted him and told him who I was. Right away he said, “Sister, I want to make my First Communion, and so does my brother.” “Is your mother home? Show me where you live, and I’ll speak with her.” He brought me up to the next floor and walked into his apartment, calling, “Mom, look!”
His mom was startled for a second, but then explained that she had no idea how her boys could be prepared for Holy Communion, because they were older than the usual age.
I explained to the mother how the boys could easily be registered in the local parish’s Sunday school--only a few blocks from their apartment—and she gratefully agreed to send them.
They went regularly to the instruction classes, and when the time came, they received their First Communion and continued attending religious instruction classes.
I was transferred to another parish, but a few years later I unexpectedly met their mother. “Sister,” she said, “do you remember that day my son brought you home? He just loves animals, and he was always bringing home stray dogs and alley cats. When he walked in that day, I expected to see another cat or dog, and there I saw a nun! Thank God you came that day. I’ve reconnected with my faith, and all of us have been faithful ever since.”
Yes, thank God for this wonderful vocation!
Praying in the Rain
by Sr. Marion Adele, P.V.M.I.
I was waiting for the bus one mid-afternoon when a sudden summer down-pour came from the sky. I had just missed a bus when the rain cloud began unloading its burden of billions of rain drops. Having no umbrella, I became soaked from head to foot in moments.
From across the street a woman called out, "Sister, do you have a minute?" Our eyes met and she hurried across the street carrying a new red and white umbrella. Obviously, she wanted to share with me her protection from the weather.
Although I had hoped to dry out on the next bus, Jesus had another use for His rain and her umbrella. When the bus arrived, I waved it on.
"Sister, I have a problem. My husband and I have been separated for three months," my new friend said. "We have two young children. A week ago he repented and now he wants to come back. He seems very sincere. The children miss their father, too!" As cars and trucks splashed their way in front of us, she explained that they had gone to a justice of the peace to get married, although they were both Catholics.
When my friend saw me praying in the rain she thought, "Maybe this nun could help us!" My prayer was that a bus would arrive soon and get me out of the rain. As every Catholic knows, all prayers are answered, but we do not always know how. This time I did know: an umbrella answered my prayer, and our visitation under it began God's answer to her prayer.
The rain was still coming down heavily, when we noticed another bus coming down the road. I asked for her telephone number and address. She hurriedly jotted it down and gave it to me just as the bus was about to stop. I assured her that I would visit her the next day and would be delighted to meet her husband as well. Thanking her for sharing her umbrella, I boarded the bus.
The next day was cloudy, but without any signs of more rain. When I arrived at my friend's home, both husband and wife were expecting me. Polite and handsome, the man had been a good Catholic at one time. As so often nowadays, confused thoughts and emotions had helped them drift away from the Church. They were clearly in love and in pain. Although they had been married by a justice of the peace seven years before, they now could see the benefit of living a Catholic marriage. The grace of the Sacrament was clearly needed. Had the children been baptized? "No." Much could be done for this family through prayer and sound spiritual counseling.
I asked if they would like to talk to a priest in the parish. "Yes," they said. I assured them that Father was easy to talk to and had much experience helping couples and families. I promised to call him and arrange an appointment.
A few weeks later I was told that the children had been baptized and the couple had their marriage validated. God does work in mysterious ways, His wonders to behold!
Mother Foundress always said that we are contemplative-missionaries — "On the Way." So it was that God provided rain one day and a person responded with an umbrella. Another day it may be a meeting on an elevator, in a subway, at an airport, in a CCD parent-teacher meeting, in a doorway or a hallway. Who knows when or where or how? God knows. God is never outdone in kindness; He is never outdone in opportunities. What a joy to be a Parish Visitor of Mary Immaculate!
Interesting to Be a Catholic
by Sr. Mary Roberta, P.V.M.I.
The door opened slowly, a careful hand had opened it to me and a woman's tired, steady voice invited, "Come in, Sister."
Her warm, friendly smile welcomed me not only into her home, but into her troubled heart as well. "I saw you visiting my neighborhood and wondered if you would visit me."
My new friend explained about her work in the bank and how she had retired only last year. "Honest work," she called it. "Not awfully interesting, but honest. It's the people that make banking interesting, not the money!"
She wanted to know how I knew that God wanted me to be a Sister and exactly what it was I was doing on her street. "God called me from the farm country of Wisconsin," I said, "to become one of His Parish Visitors of Mary Immaculate. So it is that I am looking for baptized Catholics who might need a little spiritual assistance."
She wasn't shy about her fear, "Sister, I've been trying to go to confession for over two years, ever since I got my divorce."
"When I was young I was quite religious and even thought of becoming a nun, but instead I became careless about going to Mass. Before too long I married a divorced man. I haven't been in a Catholic church in thirty-three years."
I asked if she has been praying for the courage to return to the Church. "Yes, I have! But...," and her voice trailed off without an answer.
I assured her that the Good God sent me to her home to help her. And so, we talked about repentance and making a new start in life. Her eyes grew younger as the thought of her "new life in Jesus and His Church" became more and more possible.
"Do you know any priests in the nearby parishes?" I asked.
"No, but I've seen the one that bicycles around here," she said. "When I see him pass I have a strong urge to call out to him to help me. I'm so very tired of living the way I've been living. It's not really living, you know."
"I know," I replied.
I told her the name of the young priest on the bike and filled in a few pieces of biographical information about him. She said he was just the kind of person with whom she would like to talk. "God is putting me in touch with a priest again, after all these years," she remarked. "I can't believe it."
I could easily believe it and told her so, "That's the way it is for Parish Visitors. God puts us in the right place all the time."
The next morning I asked Father if he was scheduled to hear confessions next Saturday. He was and I called my friend with the information. Her only response was "Thank you." Naturally, I had hoped for more encouraging words, but supernatural events have a way of being supernatural. I placed my hope in the Lord and offered a prayer of thanks for those two beautiful words: "Thank you."
About six weeks later a woman came into the convent yard inquiring for me. At first I did not recognize her, but when she said her name and address I vividly recalled our not-by-chance meeting. "Sister, I thought you would like to know something. I am just so happy and I wanted to share my good news with you in person.
"When you visited me I thought, 'Well, this is it.' The priest was so kind and helpful to me. I should have stopped by sooner. I am like a new woman and I have been going to Mass in different churches each Sunday. I do plan to settle in the parish real soon. But now that I'm back ... well it's so interesting to be a Catholic again."
I encouraged her to make reparation by coming to the Tuesday evening Holy Hour before the Most Blessed Sacrament. She smiled and said "I could try." And she did.