Rome (Italy). “Burning hearts and feet on the move” is the theme that accompanies missionary October 2023, an invitation to discover testimonies and experiences which, by highlighting the evangelizing power, reawaken missionary ardor in the Educating Communities.

“The image of ‘feet on the move’ reminds us once again of the perennial validity of the missio ad gentes, the mission given to the Church by the risen Lord to evangelize every person and every people to the ends of the earth”, says Pope Francis in his Message.

A personality “with a burning heart and feet on the move” for God and for souls was Blessed Maria Romero Meneses (1902 – 1977), Nicaraguan Daughter of Mary Help of Christians sent to San Jose in Costa Rica, which became her second homeland for 46 years of her life. She was destined to teach in the school of wealthy young people. Following the example of Don Bosco, she looked above all for “poor and abandoned children” and, having conquered those of the city, she went across mountains and valleys to “save souls”. She formed from among her best students, the disciples for the Work of the Oratories (1934), whom she called las misioneritas (the little missionaries). In the Letter to an FMA she wrote:

You do not know how much zeal consumes me for the “da mihi animas”. There is such a need to gather the thousands of the Lord’s sheep who walk here and there outside the fold! It is true that we are doing something here, thank God, but much, much must be done… (to Sister Josefina Genzone, 3 April 1974).

Of the 54 years of religious life, Sister Maria lived 28 in Mary Help of Christians School of San José as a Salesian educator, not limiting herself to the classrooms, but moving from the classrooms to the courtyard, enlightening with the Word of God, with the proposal of the sacraments, and being herself a reflection of Mary’s maternal goodness. She lit the hearts of her students with the fire of God’s love, which opened their eyes to get up and go “save souls”. On December 25, 1939, the apostolate called “Misión” and the “Misioneritas” was born.

In Evangelii Gaudium we read: The outgoing Church is the community of missionary disciples who are the first, who commit themselves, who accompany, who bear fruit and celebrate. The evangelizing community experiences that the Lord took the initiative, gave it first in love; And for this reason, it knows how to move forward, take the initiative without fear, go towards, seek out those who are far away and reach the crossroads to invite the excluded. (EG 24)

This is what Sister Maria did with her misioneritas. Reading their works and the testimonies of so many sacrifices, efforts, extreme hardships, dangers to which these young women were exposed, mostly of middle and high social class, one remains amazed and convinced that only the presence of God and Mary Help of Christians living in Sister Maria could ignite in them the passion of Da mihi animas cetera tolle. The Blessed said:

On Thursday and Saturday of each week, consecrated respectively to the Blessed Sacrament and the Blessed Virgin, they then went, two by two, like the disciples of the Lord, fervent missionaries to the most remote neighborhoods of the city, to bring food and clothing to the needy, but above all, to talk to them about the Kingdom of God.

The first visit was to church, to implore Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament to light them with His holy love and thus be able to communicate it to the people they would visit. Then they went to Mary Help of Christians to ask her to accompany them, repeating three times, after three Hail Mary’s: ” Mary Help of Christians, speak for us.” Along the way, they walked praying and when they arrived at the pre-established place, after having repeated the previous invocation to the Virgin, while one of them engaged in a friendly conversation, the other prayed fervently.

It is true that we never doubt the success of our feeble efforts, because the good Lord knows how to reward even in this life the most insignificant desires that we have for His glory, … But we never even imagined the beautiful treasure that He kept for us at the end of the day! For this reason, we could well exclaim with Saint Theresa [of the Child Jesus] when she found in the arms of Jesus the lift she was looking for, “O my God, you have surpassed all my hopes. This is why I want to sing your mercies.”

Here are the significant figures – years 1940-1946 – of the Lord’s divine condescension: Baptisms (three aged 42, 30, and 25) 34; Confirmations 177; First Communions (twelve aged 20 to 42) 70; marriages blessed 106; Enthronements of the Sacred Heart of Jesus 1427; First Fridays 2135; Impositions of the Scapular of Carmen, 2011; New families praying the Holy Rosary119; Faithful at the Holy Mass on Sunday 600; Collaborators for the Propagation of the Faith 24. ( Romero Maria, Las Obras Sociales de María Auxiliadora, 2009 – 2nd ed., pp. 17-18)

The missionaries went alone. Only on a few special weekly missions in distant areas did Sister Maria and some Sisters also go. Then the work continued. Many young past pupils, many lay people who came into contact with Sister Maria made her dream of bringing everyone to God their own.

Sister Maria formed a generation of young people and lay people who became torches lit by the love of God to bring to the most marginalized in society.

Let us go out with a burning heart, eyes open, feet on the move, to light other hearts with the Word of God, to open the eyes of others to Jesus in the Eucharist, and to invite everyone to walk together on the path of peace and salvation that God, in Christ, gave to humanity (Pope Francis, Message for the 97th World Mission Day 2023).


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