Sr. Evelyne Franc, D.C., Superioress General of the Daughters of Charity, and Fr. G. Gregory Gay, C.M. Superior General of the Congregation of the Mission commented on the recent beatification of Sr. Marguerite Rutan, D.C., and the meaning her life holds for the Church and the world today.

Fr. John Maher reports…

The beatification of Sr. Marguerite Rutan on June 19, 2011 in Dax, France was a moment of great joy for all members of the Vincentian family, particularly the priests, brothers, and sisters in religious communities founded by St. Vincent de Paul and St. Louise de Marillac. The Congregation of the Mission (also known as “Vincentians”) and the Daughters of Charity are often referred to as the “Double Family”, as both communities have their origins and shared history in the spiritual patrimony given to them from Sts. Vincent and Louise.

In light of this combined heritage, Sr. Evelyne Franc, the Superioress General of the Daughters of Charity and Fr. G. Gregory Gay Superior General of the Vincentians reflected on the importance of Sr. Marguerite’s life and what her beatification means to the “Double Family” and the Church today.

Sr. Evelyne reflected on Sr. Marguerite’s life as key to understanding her path to martyrdom: “During the 37 years of her life as a Daughter of Charity, Marguerite put her creativity, rich personality and professional know-how to serve the poor and the sick.  Daily, she endeavoured to love, serve and forgive like Christ. In her 15 years of service in the hospital at Dax, Marguerite gave joyful witness of authentic friendship with everyone.”  Fr. Gay noted, “Sr. Marguerite kept her gaze fixed on Christ, which enabled her to be a serene and effective servant of the poor at a time of political and social upheaval.”

Sr. Marguerite refused to buckle under to pressure put upon priests and religious in the French Revolution to renounce allegiance to the Church and their religious communities by taking the oath of loyalty to the civil constitution. Sr. Evelyne observed, “In those troubled times, Marguerite lived more intensely her gift to God and others. In spite of grave and imminent danger, she continued to follow in the footsteps of Christ with assurance. When it was impossible to work without risk, she stayed faithful to her religious convictions.” Fr Gay noted, “Sr. Marguerite met violence with non-violent resistance. She was not only a servant of the poor, but a peace-maker who lived the Beatitudes in violent times.”

What lessons can the life of Sr. Marguerite Rutan impart for the Church and the world today? For Sr. Evelyne, it is that “Marguerite Rutan lived deeply this conviction: when Jesus Christ sends one on mission, he also gives the strength to accomplish it.  Today, the witness of her life is like a beacon which enlightens our way toward unwavering fidelity to Christ.” Fr. Gay added: “Sr. Marguerite is an apt model for today’s world as one who stood up for her faith while still serving the poor. She never gave in to the forces of fear and intimidation. In our world today where Christians are attacked and persecuted for the desire to live out their faith, Sr. Marguerite’s life and death challenge us to resist the culture of violence and to strive to be peace-makers and servants of the poor.”

Sr. Evelyne concluded her comments on Sr. Marguerite’s beatification with a summation all members of the Vincentian Family can take to heart: “Sr. Marguerite’s life shows us Christ leads us on the way of unconditional Love toward the true face of the Father who is only Gift and Pardon.”

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