As foundress of the Maryknoll Sisters, Mother Mary Joseph was a visionary woman of her times. Sr Claudette LaVerdiere, MM, has documented the life and spiritual wisdom of Mother Mary Joseph in her book “On the Threshold of the Future”. She has grouped the many teachings of Mother Mary Joseph into seven themes.
1. The Presence of God
Mother Mary Joseph believed that faithfulness to meditation and prayer, and cultivating the habit of praying and communing with God were the foundation of missionary life.
MCS has adopted spiritual practices to help students cultivate the consciousness of the presence of God within them.
The Sisters taught our girls to make God’s love visible and to lead a life of Faith, Hope and Love.
2. Contemplation and Action
Mother Mary Joseph wanted the Maryknoll Sisters to be holy women whose intense active life was to be faithfully informed by prayer.
In layman terms, it means “Work hard AND pray hard”. It was never a question of one or the other, but both.
At MCS, faithfulness to meditation or prayer is always encouraged for spiritual formation.
3. Unity of Spirit and Diversity of Gifts
It was the hope of Mother Mary Joseph that the Sisters would respect differences, embrace diversity, and live together in unity in the love of God. The Sisters are to put mutual charity into action – by kind acts, encouraging words, prayer and the glad sharing of one another’s joys and sorrows. They are to see one another as God sees them – to love the success of others. They must work on their own rough edges.
MCS girls are nurtured to prosper in teamwork, helping and empowering each other.
4. Individuality and Common Good
The Sisters are to cultivate their individuality so that people, especially non-Christians, could be attracted and drawn to Christ through them. They are to keep their individuality, not for honour or distinction … but only with the desire to accomplish God’s will, i.e. to serve a common good.
At MCS, we encourage our students to develop their individual gifts, not to glorify their own excellence, but to serve better and be a light to others.
5. The Maryknoll Spirit of Obedience
Mother Mary Joseph expected Maryknollers to speak the truth with love, with fearless honesty and yet with compassion. This Maryknoll Spirit of Obedience is distinctive and demanding. It calls for frankness, deep listening, and for superiors to treat others as “mental equals”. It calls for respect, common sense and willingness to yield for the greater good.
At MCS, we encourage students to be frank. We emphasize the importance of a balance between Freedom and Responsibility.
6. Nobility of Soul
Nobility, or great heartedness, epitomizes an ideal individual. Mother Mary Joseph often described what she called the Maryknoll Spirit as naturalness of manner, frankness and openness. She would have an ideal Maryknoll Sister distinguished by –
“Christ-like charity, limpid simplicity of soul, heroic generosity, selflessness, unfailing loyalty, prudent zeal, gracious courtesy, an adaptable disposition, solid piety, and the saving grace of a kindly humour.”
One of Mother Mary Joseph’s favourite quote is from James Russsell Lowell’s poem “Yussouf” –
“As one lamp lights another, nor grow less, so nobleness enkindleth nobleness”
Mother Mary Joseph reminded the Sisters that no matter how many other lamps they lit, their own lamp would not diminish. Instead it would grow into a glorious blaze.”
Academic distinction is not the definition of Maryknoll education. It is the character of the graduates and the nobility of soul that will carry them in life. As Sister Jeanne puts it, our girls are greater than their grades.
7. Behold the Handmaid of the Lord
A final component of Mother Mary Joseph’s teachings for the Sisters is total submissiveness to God.
At MCS, we teach our girls to grow, be bold and stand ready to serve when called.
Details on the spirituality of Mother Mary Joseph as relates to MCS are documented in the attached video.