Thursday, April 12, 2012

Consider a Calling as a Sick and Suffering Co-Catholic Worker - Tell Us Your Story

     When Mother Teresa tried to begin her "new" ministry in the streets of Calcutta, she could get little accomplished, the task was so daunting.  She prayed as hard as she could and worked even harder, but quickly realized she needed a LOT more prayers from others, and especially from those carrying the heaviest crosses of all, the very sick and suffering.  She began a group called the "Sick and Suffering Co-Workers" to carry her ministry onward in the most powerful praying of all - offering physical suffering up as a sacrifice and intercession for the sake of the work for the poor to be accomplished through specific people.  Mother Teresa always gave back though, especially to these martyrs.  She wanted correspondence from them and prayed as much for them as they did for her.  She loved how candid and honest the letters were.  They revealed the humanity Jesus felt in His darkest moments, and were so precious to her. 
     We are in need of this level of prayer for our battered women and children of foreign decent who will be served in a Catholic Worker community here in Columbus, Ohio.  We need mighty prayers and grace - in gathering the workers in the field, gaining the houses, the funds or help for renovation, and the board of directors.  It was six years ago this Sunday, the feast of Divine Mercy, that Fr. John Statmiller said, on hearing of the "vision" of a three-house Catholic Worker community for battered women and children of foreign decent here in Columbus, Ohio - "I know this is from God because one house will be dedicated to women of African and/or Muslim descent. There are so many living down here on the South end without much help from the Church.  By Joe it's time this city had a Catholic Worker Movement!"  Monsignor Marv Mottet also believes that it is directly from the Holy Spirit and has prayed fervently for its inception and mission.
     The following is taken from a Word Among Us article (Lent 2012 issue) entitled, "Mother Teresa's 'Spiritual Powerhouse.'"
     "My Suffering Children."  In 1952, Jacqueline  [de Decker] received a letter from Mother Teresa.  It contained a request that changed her life.  Would she offer all her suffering to God for Mother and the work among the poor?  And would she find others to do the same?
        "Why not become spiritually bound to our society which you love so dearly?  While we work in the slums, you share in the merit, the prayers, and the work, with your suffering and prayers.  The work here is tremendous and needs workers, it is true, but I also need souls like yours to pray and suffer."
     Mother Teresa's words brought Jacqueline the realization that God had not rejected her.  On the contrary, he was granting her a special role: to offer joyfully her suffering and pain in intercession for Mother Teresa.  And so began the Link for Sick and Suffering Co-Workers. As the first missionaries started to join the solitary nun in the slums, Jacqueline sought among her fellow patients for those prepared to pray for an adopted sister (or, in time, brother), to write them once or twice a year, and above all to accept from the heart the mystery of suffering offered in faith and love for the work of a virtual stranger in a far distant land.  As Mother Teresa wrote: 'When the work is very hard, I think of each one of you, and tell God: 'Look at my suffering children and for their love bless this work,' and it works immediately.
     "Linked in Love."  From her Antwerp flat, Jacqueline coordinated the Link, relaying and translating letters filled with doubts and frailty, yet expressing generous readiness to partner with the Missionaries of Charity in the service of God.  In Mother Teresa's vision, these Sick and Suffering Co-Workers were sharing constructively in the Passion of Christ, and their letters were 'beautiful.'  People's suffering ranged from horrifying diseases to chronic depression, and they were subject to every human weakness.
     One spoke of the 'holy hens' fussing around her wheelchair and telling her to 'offer up her pains.' Another told how, when confronted with the assurance, 'How Jesus loves you,' he could not help retorting, 'He's got a funny way of showing it.'  Many had experienced despair. Some were deeply introspective, others resolutely practical and even humorous.  One English lady, whose psychopathic husband killed her baby and himself, remarked unforgettably, 'Well, my dear, all life's a rugger scrum.  Someone's bound to get hurt!'  She added: 'When people say, 'Why me?' I say, 'Why not you?'  Clearly, these were not plaster saints!  The letters of the Sick and Suffering contained many lessons - that suffering can be the medicine that deepens our humanity. 
     Stripped to the point of being at times unable even to pray, many of the writers possessed that most easily lost of all virtues, humility.  They felt dependent on God alone and rejoiced in discovering that they could still be [VERY] useful.
     The legacy of Jacqueline de Decker lives on.  Today, some five thousand people around the world are offering their prayers and trials to God on behalf of the Missionaries of Charity. 
(Kathryn Spink's book about the Sick and Suffering Co-Workers is available at  Tooffer suffering for a particulary Missionary of Charity you may contact Bridget Eacott at )
      Please consider choosing to offer your prayers and suffering up for one of these people already active or discerning a position (now or in the future) with The Lamb Catholic Worker here in Columbus:  Msgr. Marv Mottet, Fr. Denis Kigozi, Fr. Justin Reis, six young newcomers, and Monica.  We have perhaps 20+ people wanting to volunteer at this community.  What we need are workers in the field, truly ready to lay down their lives, putting aside their former way of life, picking up their cross, and living wirth and among the poor.  Over 900 of you have viewed this site from 18 countries (this blog site shows where you are from, not your information).  We need you! We need your prayers!  Please pray for these workers in the field and for the Lord's timing in gathering them. You can be a co-worker in the field with us, by the strength and support of your prayers!  We will pray for you as well, in the crosses you bear as well as the miracles.
You may send letters about yourself  to:
                                                                        The Lamb Catholic Worker
                                                                        c/o Monica Siemer
                                                                        531 Brookside Drive
                                                                        Columbus, Ohio  43209