by Paul Brian Campbell SJ U.S.A. 03.05.2023
I was only 11 years-old when my sister entered the Medical Missionaries of Mary. Some of my memories of that time are fuzzy, but I seem to remember Sheila explaining to the family that, although Hugo Kelly, who assisted Mother Mary Martin at the time of the Congregation’s founding, was himself a Jesuit he thought it would be better for the Medical Missionaries to adopt a Benedictine spirituality rather than a Jesuit [Ignatian] one.
More than 50 years later and now as a Jesuit, I don’t understand Fr. Kelly’s reasoning because I know many congregations of sisters based in Ignatian spirituality that are thriving. Having said that, the Benedictine focus on hospitality has been especially beneficial to the MMMs and is at the heart of everything they are.
I have enormously enjoyed MMM hospitality in Ireland, the United States and Brazil. Wherever in the world you meet them, their welcome is always delightfully warm and gracious. You never feel like you’re going into a stranger’s house. You are embraced by the community from the moment you arrive.
If you have yet to experience MMM hospitality in person, you’re in for a treat!
As usual my younger brother has things wrong! Fr. Hugh Kelly was Mother Mary’s spiritual director and she relied on him for wise advice. But the main influence on Mother Mary choosing Benedictine spirituality was her own lived experience in Glenstal Abbey, Co. Limerick.
During the years when she was discerning her way forward towards founding a medical missionary congregation, the monks in Glenstal offered herself and her companions a welcome to their monastery and a spiritual formation in return for housekeeping duties. She was impressed with their rhythm of work and prayer, the simplicity of their lifestyle and, yes, their hospitality. God was to be welcomed in each person that crossed the threshold.
So, in a way, we had both influences in the early years of the Congregation and have benefitted from both!