五月四日，在加拿大本國，會紀念真福瑪莉.麗妮.帕肋娣Bl. Marie Leonie Paradis，「聖家小姊妹女修會The Little Sisters of the Holy Family」創辦人。在這「司鐸年」期間，我們不妨一談這位瑪莉.麗妮——特別敬愛神父的真福聖人。
真福瑪莉.麗妮生於一八四零年。年方十三，便加入「聖十字架姊妹會The Holy Cross Sisters」。曾執教鞭二十年，後在紐賓士域New Brunswick省的聖若瑟書院St. Joseph’s College內料理家務。
「聖家小姊妹女修會」的修女們在堂區的廚房、洗衣房努力工作，也在堂區、修院、公教學院、主教府邸的祭衣房 內幫忙，後來更伸展到文書的工作——當堂區的秘書、接待員和會計員。她們效法「福音」內的聖婦們，在加里肋亞和猶大遍地，追隨耶穌和宗徒，照顧和服侍他們 的起居。
要從超性（信、望、愛）三德去理解神品聖事的尊貴和使命，贖主會Redemptorists會士方濟.郭紐 Francis Connell神父的引語，會有些幫助：
當一個神父在心內意識到: 有一些靈魂的永遠得救可能要靠他的牧民工作; 即使僅只有一個靈魂遇有喪亡的危險，他便義無反顧地，甘願承受一切困難、敵意和艱辛，旨在作天主的救靈工具來使一個人靈魂得到寵愛。這比一切世俗的名成利 就都更重要。無可比擬的熱誠將不斷地燃燒着他的心窩
In Canada we commemorate Blessed Marie Leonie Paradis, the foundress of The Little Sisters of the Holy Family, on May 4. In this Year for Priests it is very appropriate to recall Blessed Marie Leonie’s special love for priests.
Little Sisters of the Holy Family
Blessed Marie Leonie was born in 1840. At the age of 13 she joined the Holy Cross Sisters. After serving as a teacher for 20 years she was entrusted with domestic work at St. Joseph’s College in New Brunswick.
Believing in the dignity and greatness of the priesthood, Blessed Marie Leonie decided to dedicate her life to the service of priests through humble domestic work. Many young women were willing to join her, so in 1880 Blessed Marie Leonie decided to form a new religious community to serve priests: The Little Sisters of the Holy Family.
The sisters were involved mainly in domestic work. They worked in kitchens, laundries, and sacristies of colleges, seminaries, rectories, and bishops’ residences. Later on the Sisters also started to serve priests as secretaries, receptionists, and accountants. They imitated the example of the holy women in the Gospel who ministered to Jesus and the apostles as they travelled throughout Galilee and Judea.
One of the sisters summed up their spirituality and evangelical mission as follows: “Our God is the Eucharistic God, our principle work is charity, our mission is service to the priesthood exclusively, our spirit is the spirit of the Holy Family of Nazareth, our motto is ‘piety and dedication,’ and our duty is to accomplish more than others.”
Blessed Marie Leonie died on May 3, 1912. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II on Sept. 11, 1984. Hers was the first beatification ceremony on Canadian soil.
Greatness of the priesthood
By their service, the Little Sisters bear witness to the dignity and greatness of the holy priesthood. It is the hope of the sisters that, by their fidelity and faith in the priesthood, priests themselves will be inspired and encouraged to remain faithful to their promises and their mission.
Below are a few beautiful quotations on the priesthood from Father Francis Connell, CSsR, which help to remind us of the mission and dignity of priests in light of the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity.
“When this all-important truth is deeply impressed on the mind and heart of the priest – that the eternal salvation of certain souls may depend on his ministerial activities, that difficulties and opposition and weariness should be accepted unhesitatingly when even one soul is in danger, that all the materials benefits and human honours the world could give him are nothing compared to the privilege of serving as the instrument of God in bringing the state of grace to one human being – then the spirit of immeasurable zeal will burn ardently in his heart.”
“In the case of the priest, the hope to bring others to their eternal destiny is intimately linked up with the desire for his own salvation, for the vocation to which he has been divinely summoned involves the duty of bringing many others to eternal happiness.”
“We should not measure success in the priestly ministry in terms of numbers, since to restore even one soul to the state of grace would be worth all the labour of an entire lifetime.”
“It was primarily out of love for God that the priest accepted the divine invitation to enter the sacredotal state, and it is only by ever cultivating the virtue of divine charity that he will prove himself worthy of the great privilege of functioning day by day in the priesthood.”
Let us pray that all the priests in our archdiocese will grow in holiness and bring many souls to eternal happiness.