‘Come, Holy Spirit, renew the face of the earth’ - Maryknoll Lay Missioners
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Pentecost icon by Kelly Latimore (St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Salisbury, North Carolina)

After the joyful Easter Season, we welcome the celebration of Pentecost with equal enthusiasm: “Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle in them the fire of your love.” Maryknoll lay missioners say an unequivocal “Amen!” to the love that inspires them to leave home, family and all that is familiar to share in the work of the Spirit throughout the world.

I am honored to be part of this community that serves through the power of the Holy Spirit.

The feast of Pentecost has long been celebrated as the birth of the church — and rightly so, as we remember the disciples of Jesus waiting in Jerusalem in anticipation. The power of the Holy Spirit overwhelmed them, and they were never the same in their proclamation of the risen Jesus and how they lived their lives. Today our world needs these new disciples on fire with the Holy Spirit.

It is a great power indeed that has always been needed to renew the face of the earth. Have we really seen and heard what the Holy Spirit is about in our very midst? When we witness great upheaval and when we feel the winds of change, our tendency is to call it chaos and to be afraid. We prefer a tamed spirit to the Holy Spirit.

Maryknoll lay missioners witness to the Spirit who is unsatisfied with structures that oppress, who acts across time and space to create a new world order and is never too late to save.

The stories recently shared by our missioners who completed their first three-and-a-half-year term of service reminded me that the Holy Spirit is alive and thriving — even through the suffering, the challenges, and against all the odds:

  • Rich Tarro accompanies 150 children and youth affected by HIV and AIDS in Mombasa, Kenya, by providing educational opportunities that transform lives.
  • Cortney Freshwater experienced mutuality through the supportive relationships with poor, disabled children in Cochabamba, Bolivia, through the terrifying months of COVID isolation.
  • Steve and Loyce Veryser emphasized their relationships, vulnerability and perseverance in recognizing the power of the Spirit of God in their mission experiences in Mwanza, Tanzania.
  • And Marilyn and Kevin McDonough shared about the miracles that they witnessed as they humbly acknowledged, “I am different from when I first came to Maryknoll. We have had an impact on the children with disabilities of St. Justin’s Centre and the people of Musoma, Tanzania, and they have forever changed us as well.”

Let us pray with Pope Francis, “Make us missionaries of your comfort, paracletes of your mercy before the world. Our Advocate, sweet counsellor of the soul, make us witnesses of the ‘today’ of God, prophets of unity for the church and humanity, and apostles grounded in your grace, which creates and renews all things. Amen.”

Elvira Ramirez
Elvira Ramirez is Maryknoll Lay Missioners’ executive director.