Catholic Outlook

Meet the Missionaries of God’s Love

Catholic Outlook August 2011 Vocations Feature MSL
Engaging with young people: (from left) Rosie Drum, Therese Mills and Judy Bowe. Photo: Virginia Knight

By Virginia Knight, Catholic Outlook, August 2011

The ‘Sisterhood’ has moved into Quakers Hill in the Diocese of Parramatta. Sr Therese Mills MGL, Sr Rosie Drum MGL and Community Leader Sr Judy Bowe MGL are Sisters in a vibrant and relatively young religious order.

The Missionaries of God's Love began within the Disciples of Jesus Covenant Community in Canberra in 1986, under the guidance of Fr Ken Barker MGL. The MGL Sisters have a charismatic spirituality which through their ministry of evangelisation, with youth and the marginalised, seeks to pass on their belief in Jesus and love for the Church.

Rosie and Judy grew up in country NSW while Therese spent her formative years in North Queensland. While all three followed different vocation pathways, it was witnessing the ministry of the Disciples of Jesus and the MGL Sisters, Priests and Brothers, that led to their ultimate discernment.

Rosie said the doorway to vocations was always open and her family actively encouraged her to enter religious life. “We used to pray the rosary each night as a family. During ‘special intentions’ Mum would pray for more Priests, Brothers and Nuns;  and us kids would all look at each other wondering who it would be,” she said.

“I only seriously considered religious life on meeting the MGL Sisters when I was 18 on a youth camp. When I witnessed their joy in what they were doing and clarity of life purpose, I wanted that.”

But it was another three more years before she joined the MGLs when she was 21 after studying for an arts degree.

Growing up, Judy was surrounded by people of faith, but a Marist Brother challenged her to maintain her faith at a time when many young people tended to place it on the shelf.

“At a stage when I was drifting he gave me the impression that God had a far bigger vision for my life than I did. When you’re young and sorting out who you are, you need to have people who believe in you.”

However, it was through youth ministry with the MGLs that Judy began thinking about her own vocation when she was 25. “The first time I heard the MGLs talking about the way they lived, I wasn’t attracted to it at all.

“Depending on the Lord’s provision and radical trust in God seemed reckless, silly and impossible, but that all changed when I felt God calling me to Himself.

“The call became far more important than anything else. For the first time religious life became an invitation that I didn’t want to miss.”

Living in North Queensland, Therese said there were not a lot of young people in religious life. When she attended the Summer School of Evangelisation and met the MGLs she thought how young they were. “I remember rocking up to Summer School and thinking ‘no way’,” she said.

But after a mission stint with a team of young people involved in youth-to-youth evangelisation, she began to consider it as a possibility. “I remembered hearing Judy speak about the MGL way of life – living a life of radical poverty, mission and prayer. Something sparked inside and drew me to it.”

All three Sisters agree that we need to do more to foster an encouraging atmosphere in the community that will allow young people to feel welcomed and accepted as they consider taking up God’s invitation to vocation.

“People don’t talk about it anymore, so kids don’t think about it,” Rosie said. “In some cases it is almost a taboo subject instead of a natural conversation topic that is commonly discussed.”

“We need to regain a really positive vision of religious life and priesthood,” Judy continues. “We need to talk to young people about the need to search out their own vocation, whatever that may be.”

Living with other Sisters who have the same vision can be very joyful, but it can also be the biggest challenge. “We share our lives pretty deeply and are committed to supporting one another, but every relationship that goes deeper than the superficial brings its challenges,” Judy said.

“Sisterhood is a school of love where you learn to move beyond self-interest to generosity of heart. Praying together and sharing life, you get pretty close, but it’s your relationship with Jesus that enables your life to work.”

The Sisters encourage young people to get to know those in religious life. They run vocations weekends and invite young women to visit and ‘hang out’ with them and ‘try on’ the lifestyle. “In the words of Pope Benedict XVI, ‘Let yourselves be surprised by Christ,’” Therese said.

Judy said don’t be afraid to open your heart to God. “God desires your greatest happiness more than you do and will lead you to the right place for you in life. If you do have a vocation it’s the best thing in the world. It would be a shame to miss that joy.”

You are invited to join the Missionaries of God’s Love for an information night and dinner on Saturday 3 September and a retreat day on 22 October at the Sisters’ home, 11 Torbert Ave, Quakers Hill.

For further information contact the Sisters on (02) 9626 8382 and check out http://www.mglvocation.org/