US since the 1960s
Small, humble beginnings in the United States expanded into a variety of ministries where our SMIC charism intersected with Franciscan life. The dynamic grace of the SMIC charism to bring God's love to the poor and neglected is shown by the various ministries/apostolates the Missionary Sisters began and developed in or through the U.S. Province.
Education - Tombrock College (1956-1976), named after our foundress Mother Immaculata began as a Sisters Formation College and eventually expanded to include co-educational programs. Approximately 26 elementary, high schools, colleges and universities, many in underserved areas, have had the presence and expertise of the Missionary Sisters. Today, the Sisters continue to teach immigrants who are learning English as their second language.
Pastoral - In the spirit of Vatican II SMICs have served as pastoral associates in local parishes. They also continue volunteering in parish ministry through bereavement groups, soup kitchens, food pantries, ministry to the elderly, liturgy and many other spiritual activities.
Care for Creation - As Franciscans we are called to protect all of creation. Therefore, many SMICs are involved in advocating for environmental issues, such as the spirituality of water: its use and abuse, exploitation of the Amazon rainforest, leaving carbon footprints, etc. All the Sisters are committed to bring Franciscan values to the many global, national and local environmental issues and realities. We are the voice for the voiceless in the exploitation of Mother Earth and Sister Water, communicating with our legislators encouraging them to support efforts that will safeguard all God-given gifts for future generations.
Health care - St. Elizabeth Hospital in Houston, Texas (1946-1981) and Holy Cross Hospital, Austin, Texas (1940-1971) served the African American and Mexican American communities. The hospitals were a place of healing and acceptance during a period of racial unrest. A welcoming spirit, hospitality, competence, service and compassion were the blessings the Sisters gave. Physicians, staff, patients, families, and volunteers joined together to overcome the marks of racism. When the hospitals no longer could be continued, the Sisters prepared themselves to become involved in higher education, social service, and health care ministries. In their elder years, these Sisters continue to be a compassionate presence to victims of violence, the poor, the hungry and homeless, immigrants, prisoners, the sick and dying.
Chaplaincy – presently several Sisters are chaplains in hospitals and nursing homes bringing a healing touch through sharing our charism of being a contemplative, compassionate presence.
Retreat and Spiritual Direction - Several Sisters continue to share their gifts and expertise in retreat centers and individual spiritual direction.
Interreligious Dialogue with the Islamic community is carrying out the vision of St. Francis who visited the Sultan during the Crusades conflict. Several Sisters continue these ongoing conversations so as to mutually understand and respect both traditions.
Some Sisters chose to live and minister among the Native Americans whose world view, rituals, prayer and dances were integrated with the Catholic Way. This enrichment continues to influence the community's spirituality as well as raise our consciousness and that of others of the present reality and ongoing exploitation of the North American Indians.
For a time, the U.S. Province sponsored and sent SMICs to Bolivia (1964-1969) The mutual blessing experienced in this mission is evident by the words of one of the pioneer Sisters: "We learned more about God and ourselves as we intertwined our lives with the people during those years of joys, struggles, loneliness and the development of deep friendships."
Some of us have crossed oceans to new and demanding lands. Sisters were sent from the U.S. to China, Brazil, Taiwan, Philippines and Bolivia. Some of us passed through major transitions within our own country and church. Others have crossed thresholds of security, comfort, physical, psychological pain to risk something new in an unfamiliar place or ministry.
Pulsating life, moving forward even in fragile, vulnerable times and places gives continued expression to our Franciscan Missionary charism. Charism - the mysterious energy that originally vibrated in us and presently resounds in us. Charism, our special call and grace, where we know communion, mission and identity in one another.
Follow the SMIC US Province on their website: http://www.smic-missionarysisters.com