Hope Begins With You

The new millennium has seen growth in individualism with ensuing impact on social coherence and community harmony which is increasingly evident. At this time, it is important to maintain HOPE. The lived experience of the collective HOPE of the Trustees and senior leaders continues to define Mary Aikenhead Ministries and ensures every dimension of the Ministries is animated by the values of Love, Hope, Compassion and Justice.

These Gospel values found in the life and teachings of Jesus, were chosen and gifted to Mary Aikenhead Ministries by the Sisters of Charity. Today, in our homes and our workplaces across the ministries, inspired by the numerous stories of Mary Aikenhead and many examples of service delivered daily by colleagues, by reading the “signs of the times”, each person is called to be a beacon of HOPE. We do this by living out these values, by our commitment to the gospel imperative of preferential option for the poor and our response in service to the vulnerable and marginalised.

Elise Harris, reporting on behalf of the Catholic News Agency from the Vatican City about Pope Francis‘ TED talk on 26 April 2017 remarked: “Hope is the door that opens onto the future”. He said that it is like the hidden yeast that makes bread grow, and as such “can do so much, because a tiny flicker of light that feeds on hope is enough to shatter the shield of darkness”. He told conference participants: “A single individual is enough for hope to exist … that individual can be you … And then there will be another ‘you’ and another ‘you’, and it turns into an ‘us’”, he said, explaining that hope begins as ‘you’, and when an ‘us’ develops, “there begins a revolution”.

It is important for each of us to reflect on the purpose and meaning of our ministry. Individuals already do this informally, perhaps on the commute home in traffic, assessing how the day went, noting the tasks achieved, and making a mental note of priorities for tomorrow. Where are the values of love, hope, compassion and justice sitting in our words and actions on any given day? These values come with much responsibility, both individually and collectively and were not given lightly to Mary Aikenhead Ministries.

In the Gospel of Matthew 25:31, Jesus shares the parable of ‘The Judgement of Nations’. This is a message about providing HOPE to those most in need, as Jesus teaches us that:

we must feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked and visit the imprisoned. And when we do that to the least of those amongst us, we do those things for Him.

We are all impacted by the prevailing climate within which we seek to carry out our responsibilities and we are not immune to the outside pressures of the wider world either individually or at an institutional level – be it the ebb and flow of the global economy, political tensions played out locally and abroad, or the views expressed through mainstream media, not to mention a growing plethora of advice cast upon us through social media. However, following the advice of Francis, each individual has the opportunity to choose to be a beacon of HOPE thus making an impact for good on those in their immediate circle.

Standing on the shoulders of those religious and lay leaders who went before us and walking alongside like-minded colleagues, we have the advantage that already the ‘you’ has grown to become a formidable ‘us’.

Thus, the seed of the revolution based on the teaching of Jesus about which Pope Francis is speaking is alive in each of ‘us’. We can choose to harness its energy. Standing together as ‘us’, we have the capacity to continue to be a beacon of HOPE, spreading the good news and answering Jesus’ call in Matthew’s Gospel to serve our sisters and brothers, especially those most in need.

Hope knows no fear.
Hope dares to blossom even
inside the abysmal abyss.
Hope secretly feeds and
strengthens promise.

Sri Chinmoy

Mr David Alcock

Trustee of Mary Aikenhead Ministries