Sr. Ann was a member of a diocesan congregation of nuns of Masaka, Uganda. She was in the United States working on a master’s degree in religious education and then would return to Uganda to be director of religious education for the diocese. On the summer weekends, she did mission appeals to raise money for the support of her congregation.
Sr. Ann came to do the annual mission appeal at St. Eulalia parish in Chicago that our Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament staffed and where I (Father Mike) was pastor. After the Saturday evening mass, I took her to supper at a restaurant in nearby Chinatown. During our conversation, I asked her how many members were in her congregation. Her reply was “about 800, 700 of them living”.
I was surprised, not only by the large numbers of sisters in diocesan order, but also by deep faith in the Church’s doctrine of the COMMUNION OF SAINTS. It was perfectly natural for her to have as much of a relationship to the deceased as to the living.
The Church’s belief in the COMMUNION OF SAINTS tells us that the Church is a union of those striving to live the life of our Lord here on earth, those who have achieved the fullness of Christ’s life in Heaven, and those who are in purgatory. The great theologian, Karl Rahner, tells us that purgatory, rather than a place, is a process of purification of our persons of all that is not of God and are being prepared for full union with Him.
In our western society, we do not have the cultural sense of the COMMUNION OF SAINTS that is so strong in Saint Ann’s African culture. However, we need to consider that it is present. At my father’s wake when I was a young man in my twenties, I realized that he was no longer present in the body before me. Yet, I did have a strong sense of his presence. It prompted me to pray to him for my needs, knowing that he was still concerned for his family and would intercede to the Father on our behalf. It also prompted me to pray for him. Yes, I knew he was not perfect, had sinned in his life, and would be helped in his passage to total union with God by my prayers. Now as a priest, I am able to offer masses for him as well as for my mother and my deceased brothers and sisters-in-law. It is very consoling to be able to continue being in relationship to them and to be of help to them.
We here at Saint Ann’s Shrine are giving you the opportunity to continue your loving relationship to your beloved members of your family who have preceded you in death. Please join us in a Novena of masses for them by sending us their names with your donation. Your donation will be a sacrifice which you make on their behalf and it will be used by the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament to continue bringing the love of Our Lord into the lives of many people, as well as continuing our ministry of prayer here at Saint Ann’s Shrine.
Thank you very much for your help to us as well as for those you love.
*Please join us in congratulating Fr. Roger as he recently celebrated his 60th Anniversary of his ordination as a priest! We are so grateful for his service to our Lord, our faith, and Saint Ann’s Shrine!