One of the great joys this summer has been the opportunity to meet and get to know a special group of Sisters. The Missionary Servants of the Word are a young, dynamic religious community from Mexico. In their short history they have been guided by a faith filled founder with an incredible vision and understanding of the world. The community of sisters and laypeople focus their work on evangelization. In a world filled with great struggle, pain and searching they offer hope. It is this great sense of hope and faith, which has allowed for their community to grow with over 50 young women currently studying as Novices!
Two weeks ago I was speaking with one of the Sisters about my upcoming vacation time. I was lamenting the short time I had off before going back to the Seminary. Out of curiosity I asked one of the Sister how much vacation time they get a year. When the Sister replied two weeks every three years, suddenly everything was put into perspective. My only woefully short vacation weeks were suddenly not so big of a deal. Recognizing this fact and wanting to do something special I started to dream up a little project. With the help of a few good friends I went to work planning a special day of summer fun for all the Sisters in New Hampshire (8). After all if one only gets two weeks off every three years they deserve a few days off every now and then.
To make the most of the day I kept it secret from them all and only told them to be prepared for a great adventure. After attending morning Mass I gave the Sisters an envelope with the first of many sets of cryptic instructions. I then ran to my car and had them follow me to an undisclosed location. After arriving I quickly had them park their cars and jump into an awaiting fifteen-passenger van. The driver of the van was fellow seminarian Charles Pawlowski, and an old friend of the Sisters.
Altogether in the van we drove to the North End of Manchester for the first challenge. Inspired by the hit TV show Cash Cab I gave the Sisters two questions, which they needed to randomly ask people on the street. The first question was to name one of three women’s colleges to have a street name after it in the city, the second was to pick a number 1-50. The sisters were unsure what to do, but nonetheless they embraced the adventure. The answers to the questions would later be used to determine the street and house number we would visit. What they did not know was that I had staged the “random” people who were walking on the street that morning and that they were in on everything. After getting a street name and number we drove to the house and the Sisters were given there next challenge, to visit the home, convince the family to pray with them and to convince them to give them food too. (It is important to note that as part of their ministry the Sisters visit the homes of strangers doing just this, in a way they are “Catholic Jehovah Witnesses.” What the Sisters did not know was that the home was the home of my Aunt and Uncle. They of course played right along and cooperated with the plan.
After successfully praying with a family, bringing me snack food we drove North to Laconia. Along the way we said Morning Prayer and enjoyed the beauty of the Lakes Region. In Laconia we went to Funspot where we played Mini-Golf and rode the Go-Carts several times. I am not going to lie, I regret that I forgot my camera and missed the opportunity to post pictures of lots of nuns, in habit, whirling around a Go-Cart track. Since most of the Sisters were from rural villages in Mexico I am more than willing to suggest that most if not all of them had never been on Go-Carts or Mini-Golfing.
After fun at Funspot we made our way to Wolfeboro to the beautiful lakeside summer home of the Royce Family where we enjoyed a lakeside bbq, boat rides and a lazy afternoon. I must confess that as the Sisters sat in the front for their first motorboat ride, I whispered to our captain “please go as fast as humanly possible and give the Sisters a thrill ride.” Happily our Skipper obliged and the Sisters held on for dear life.
Finally after returning to Manchester we went to Cremeland for Ice Cream Sundaes and called it day. It ended up being an amazing and fun day to be away from the worries of day-to-day busy life. The Sisters continue to be inspiring witnesses of faith and I for one and most grateful to have had the opportunity to brighten their day!