The sisters and supporters celebrated their 125th anniversary during Mass at St Francis de Sales Church Island Bay on 5 May at 10.30am. Cardinal John presiding.
“We were founded by the power of the printed word. A printed brochure inspired our foundress Mary Theresa Ledochowska to work against slavery. Mary Theresa grew up in the magnificent surroundings of Austrian nobility and was very familiar with mountain excursions, evenings of dance, dinner and entertainment. She had to spend hours in the midst of drawing room etiquette, sterile idleness, living on a surface level. When given a pamphlet denouncing the slave trade which was still widespread in Africa, Mary Theresa was shocked to realise that so many people, created in God’s image, were being treated worse than animals. She hoped that once people knew of the terrible realities of the slave trade they would want to help fight against it.
Her hopes became a reality with donations requesting that she forward the money to the most needy missionaries. Mary Theresa developed Echo from Africa and with her writer’s talent and her heart full of love and compassion for the slaves, subscriptions became more and more numerous.
The congregation was founded on 29 April 1894. Today there are sisters of 28 nationalities in 47 countries. Although our communities are usually small, our mission helpers constitute a gigantic force of women and men participating in assisting the poor from afar. Our work is still the same as that of our foundress: mission promotion and mission aid. The Echo from Africa – now entitled Echo from Africa and other Continents, is still our primary medium for raising awareness of the missionary activity of the Church and also much needed funds for ‘the most needy missionaries’.”
Missionary Sisters of St. Peter Claver,
1 Mersey St, Island Bay. Phone: 383 8401