-- Statues at seminary honor SVD founder, missionary

Wednesday, 2 September 2009  Story By: Terry Dickson

BAY ST. LOUIS – What difference can one person make?

Bishop Roger Morin said one need only look at the examples of St. Arnold Jansen, SVD, founder of the Divine Word Missionaries and St. Joseph Freinademetz, SVD, a missionary to China, to find the answer to that question.

The bishop blessed statues of the two saints during a short ceremony on August 28, the Feast of St. Augustine, in the courtyard of St. Augustine Seminary.

“We celebrate the fact of what has been made possible through the marvelous accomplishments of their lives,” Bishop Morin said.

Father Janssen established the Divine Word Missionaries on September 8, 1875 in Steyl, Holland. On March 2, 1879, the first two SVD missionaries set out for China. One of these missionaries was Joseph Freinademetz, who was very active in the education of Chinese laymen and priests. On December 8, 1889, Father Janssen founded the mission congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Spirit (SSpS).

Father Arnold Janssen died on January 15, 1909. His life was filled with a constant search for God's will, a great confidence in divine providence, and hard work. That his work has been blessed is evident in the subsequent growth of the communities he founded: more than 6,000 Divine Word Missionaries are active in 63 countries, more than 3,800 missionary Servants of the Holy Spirit, and more than 400 Servants of the Holy Spirit of Perpetual Adoration.

Freinademetz died a year earlier after contracting typhus.

Freinademetz and Arnold Janssen were canonized on October 5, 2003 by Pope John Paul II.”

“Their canonization is certainly great celebration for the Society of the Divine Word,” Bishop Morin said.

“Now, these images are here for public veneration so the story of their work can continue to be told and that perhaps that some of those who look upon these images will be stirred and be moved to action to show that, yes, we can accomplish to some degree what it was that they accomplished by the sacrifice of their lives. So we celebrate joyously today at this celebration for these two images of the two saints and we ask you who are already among the faithful band of followers to tell your relatives and friends about Arnold and Joseph and tell them to come here and to pray for inspiration that they too will be moved to spread the message of God’s love to others in our own time.”

St. Augustine rector Father Gus Wall said the statues were made in Vietnam and came through anonymous donors.

Father Wall said the SVD’s serve in 70 different countries throughout the world and has many Vietnamese members in the United States.


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