.The Theme of the Salvatorian Missionary Year
The year 2015 will be the “Salvatorian Missionary Year,” a time of grace for all Salvatorians of the three branches. Primarily because Pope Francis has designated this year as the “Year for Consecrated Life.” Also because we celebrate the 125th anniversary of the sending of the first Salvatorians to the mission in Assam, in northeast India.(1)
These important events are an invitation to live our vocation with passion and to give witness to the beauty of our following of Jesus in the different ways that arise as our lives unfold. The core of our Salvatorian vocation consists in witnessing to Jesus the Savior. And, to do all that is necessary for all people to know, love and follow Him as His disciples. We exist in order to live out this mission permanently. It is a mission that stems from our experience of faith as we respond to Jesus’ mandate to “go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature…and you will be my witnesses to the ends of the earth” (see Mk 16:15; Acts 1:8). As religious men and women, we are called to rouse the world through our witness and our presence even at the margins of the earth and of life in today’s world.
In this sense, the first goal of the “Salvatorian Missionary Year” is to recall with gratitude the first Salvatorians who understood the missionary charism of Francis Jordan. These men and women, coming from different places, aware of being “weak and fragile,” became the bearers of the fire that burned in the apostolic heart of Jordan. For all of them, the Salvatorian charism was the guiding star and the great current in which they lived their lives. From these beginnings – as a fire that lights other fires – the Salvatorian mission spread through all the continents of the world.
A second goal is the opportunity the Lord is offering us to give new life to our missionary vocation in the Church and world as authentic “witnesses of salvation” in accord with our charism. Although the “Salvatorian Missionary Year” is an appeal to all, it is particularly directed to young Salvatorians. The call is directed to them to go to the needy, to take the news of joy and hope to all those places marked by material and spiritual poverty. Our spiritual father, Francis Jordan, has often expressed the necessity of not being satisfied until everyone and in all places knows the goodness and love of the God who saves. The Salvatorian mission is not merely a thing of the past now forgotten with the passage of time, rather it is alive, nourished and deepened continuously by the daily tasks of the lives of so many Salvatorian men and women.
Let us go onward then since mission, understood as passion and compassion, is the core of the Salvatorian’s life. Yesterday, today and always we are all called to transmit with great zeal the fire of Francis Jordan’s charism for “the Savior’s mission is our passion.”
The Logo of the Salvatorian Missionary Year
The year 2015 has been declared the Salvatorian Missionary Year for various reasons inherent to the history of our Society of the Divine Savior and our charism. This logo,(2) along with its motto, is intended to visualize in a direct way and by a quick glance what this event is all about, so significant for all members of the great Salvatorian Family.
The first element calling our attention is the figure of the Divine Savior. He is the point of departure for our mission as members of the Salvatorian Family. As he did with his disciples, the Savior also sends each one of us to announce the Good News of salvation to all people by all ways and means the love of Christ inspires. We are called to make God known in all the spheres of the world, but in a special way at the peripheries be it of the globe, society, ethnicity, or wherever needy and vulnerable persons are found.
The mystery of the Salvatorian mission is revealed in the Cross. For our Founder it was so important he included it in his religious name: Francis Mary of the Cross. In his talks we know that he sent his first missionaries to proclaim God’s love manifested in the “Crucified One.” Moreover, at various opportunities he repeats that God’s great works flourish in the shadow of the Cross. For this reason, the Cross is in the center because it embraces the entire reality of our mission. The Cross is the greatest sign of God the Father’s love in his Son, the Divine Savior, an important aspect of Salvatorian spirituality.
With the Divine Savior in the foreground and on the left, in the shadow of the Cross, we see the well-known painting of Br. Aegidius Roeder SDS (1865-1928), in which Fr. Francis Jordan sends some of his best confreres to the first mission in the northeast of India in Assam. This was a simple gesture. Yet this act became a basic feature of Salvatorian missionary identity. Fr. Francis Jordan did not fear difficulties or problems, since he was motivated to have his spiritual sons make God and the eternal truths known to all peoples.
Lastly, in the lower part of the logo we find various faces of Salvatorians of the three branches. We see Sisters, Priests, Brothers, and Lay Salvatorians. They are found and work in the different continents where they carry out their apostolates with enthusiasm among those commended to them: persons of all ages and in all types of conditions. They are full of the missionary spirit that always marked both the Apostles in imitation of Jesus as well as Fr. Francis Jordan and now his spiritual sons and daughters. May the Savior’s mission always be our passion!
(1) In 1890, Francis Jordan sent from Rome the first Salvatorian missionaries to the vast region of Assam, India. On 17 January, he sent the first group: Fr. Otto Hopfenmüller, Fr. Angelus Mary Münzloher, Br. Marianus Schumm and Br. Joseph Bächle. On 12 December, the second group left: Fr. John Evangelist of Jesus and Mary Gruchot, Fr. Ignatius Bethan, Fr. Matthew Baukhage, Br. Cyril Disclafoni, Sr. Scholastica of the Immaculate Conception Hopfenmüller, Sr. Benedicta of Jesus Ruderich and Sr. Laurentia of the Ancilla Heilmeier (see DSS XV).
(2) The designers of the Salvatorian Missionary Year logo are Fr. Elvis José Alzola Pinto, SDS (Vicariate of Venezuela) and Mr. Giuseppe Rogolino (ICDS Italy).