Diaspora

Missionary Servants celebrate centennial with Mass and art show – My catholic standard

The Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity hosted their centennial celebration on March 19 in the former Holy Trinity Mission Seminary in Silver Spring, Maryland. 
Attendees of the event participated in a Mass, reception, and art show. The guests included donors and supporters of the religious order, as well as members of the communities they serve. 
The Missionary Servants first arrived in Washington in the 1920s. Father Thomas Augustine Judge, who helped establish the order of priests and brothers, is currently being considered for sainthood. 
John Butler, the vice president for development and mission advancement for Trinity Missions whose work supports the order’s outreach and assists its retired priests and brothers with clothing, medicine, food, and utility costs, noted, “Several of our missionary services here locally are serving communities right in the neighborhood and throughout the Washington metropolitan area.” 
In the Washington area, Missionary Servants collect furniture, food, and clothing donations to distribute to local migrant families in need. They also work to connect migrant families to organizations to help them with any obstacles they may be facing, such as finding education for their children or safety for those suffering from domestic violence. In cases where families need help seeking asylum, Missionary Servants will direct them to CASA de Maryland, where they can meet with immigration lawyers. 
Butler noted how integral Father Judge’s role was in establishing the order. More than 100 years ago, Father Judge, then a Vincentian priest, traveled to Alabama with lay women and men to establish mission parishes.
“Father Judge was very, very concerned about the laity. It’s a cenacle family, that’s how he gathered the laity initially,” Butler said. Cenacle means “upper room” and is the name of the Christian holy site in Jerusalem that is believed to be the room where Jesus held his Last Supper with his Apostles and where the risen Christ appeared to them, and where they received the gifts of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. 
Reflecting on the religious order’s beginning, Butler said,  “It was primarily women who joined him when he went down to Alabama and Mississippi to start his work there and started to do some early work with education. He invited the lay people he had been working with in the New York area to come down and it was the women first…consequently, it was our sisters’ order that was established first.”
Father Judge was instrumental in founding a religious order of sisters in the South called the Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity. Then in 1921, Father Judge established the Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity, an order of priests and brothers commonly known today as the Trinity Missions.
Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the apostolic nuncio to the United States, was the main celebrant of the anniversary Mass, which was concelebrated by Father Michael Barth, who serves as the general custodian (major superior) of the Missionary Servants and the president of Trinity Missions. Father Domingo Rodríguez was the homilist at the Mass. 
The Missionary Servants serve an estimated 250,000 people on a weekly basis. This effort is spread among 37 missions in the United States and Puerto Rico, Haiti, Mexico, Costa Rica, Honduras and Colombia. A press release on the order’s centennial notes, “Holy Trinity Missions priests and brothers work in mission dioceses and parishes in the heart of economically depressed areas, on Native American reservations, in tropical rainforests and in isolated towns in the Deep South…”
Missionary Servants in Compton, California serve as spiritual guides and counselors to people affiliated with gangs, showing them how to leave their violent lives. In Arizona, missionaries serve the Tohono O’odham Nation and the Yaqui Tribe. Overseas, priests and brothers work in clinics and offer medical care in Haiti, Honduras, and Colombia. 
Missionary Servant Father Ramon Flores is shown during the blessing of the Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel in Holy Trinity, Alabama. That religious order serves people in need in the Deep South, in Native American tribes in the West, and in Mexico and in Haiti and in Mexico, Costa Rica, Honduras and Colombia. (Photo courtesy of the Missionary Servants)
Father Barth noted how the Mass reflected the different cultures served by the Missionary Servants. English, Spanish and Creole were spoken and sung during the Mass.  
“The liturgy was a blend of those languages, traditions, spirituality, and song, and Scripture and music to enrich… Those cultures bring the universality of the Church, and our charism that was left us, as it spreads, also brings all those various cultures and blends it with our charism,” he said.  
According to Father Barth, Haiti is the focus of the Missionary Servants’ fundraising projects right now.
“Our dream is to build a school, we have an elementary school there at the mission that has over 200 kids in it, elementary age, but they are in wooden huts with thatched roof-type things, so we would love to build a more substantial school that they could learn much better at,” he said. 
After the Mass, attendees were encouraged to enjoy the reception and art show featuring painting and drawings by Brother Richard McCann, a member of the Missionary Servants. 
Brother McCann works out of the senior ministry house, providing spiritual direction and creating works of art. He grew up in Philadelphia and has been a member of the Missionary Servants since 1960. Brother McCann credited his inspiration of becoming a missionary to his sister.
“My sister was a Little Sister of the Assumption, she entered right after high school, it was right up the street from us, close by, her convent. We’d visit, and you know how sisters are, they get you to do things,” Brother McCann said. “Just by their association I worked with them, they were nurses and social workers, not in hospitals, but in poor families.”
Brother McCann would play sports with the children under the care of the Little Sisters of the Assumption. He said one day, one of the sisters asked him what he was going to do with his life. 
“I said, ‘I’m doing it, I’m working, I’m out of the Army now, I’m going to art school at night, I got a brand new car, I’m doing it,’ and then she says, ‘What are you really going to do with your life?’ I got thinking and then I discovered the Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity and said ‘That’s the place for me,’ that was the spirit guiding (me),” Brother McCann said.
Brother McCann has been painting since he was three years old. His artwork was on sale during the centennial event, to help raise money for the order’s mission in Haiti. 
One of the paintings Brother McCann created, featuring the Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity’s emblem, was made specifically with the centennial celebration in mind. 
“Blessed be the Holy and undivided Trinity, now and forever, Amen,” Brother McCann said. “That’s what that is.” 
While that painting’s imagery is celestial, featuring a visage of Jesus and the hand of God, many of Brother McCann’s pieces include images of saints, landscapes and nature, and refugee faces that he created to highlight the migrant crisis. 
“Father Judge says, ‘You have to remember every person is an image of the Blessed Trinity, every person, (and) God is the God of all,’” Brother McCann said of his charcoal sketches. As for the theme of nature in his artwork, he said, “You get inspired by God’s creation, you find God there also, many people find God in nature.”
Brother McCann’s artistic talents were applied and appreciated in various capacities prior to his paintings and sketches.
“The novice master put me in the tailor shop first, to make habits, I knew how to thread a needle, one of the brothers taught me…but then he discovered I could paint, so I restored old statues at Holy Trinity in Alabama, so that was the beginning of it,” Brother McCann said. 
The art show sold 15 paintings and raised $2,745 for the Missionary Servants’ mission in Haiti. The centennial celebration ended with an award ceremony in the evening. The next Art for Haiti fundraiser is expected to take place in the fall.
(For more information on the Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity, go to https://trinitymissions.org/.)
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