Homily for Sister Susanna Choi’s Silver Jubilee, Magheramore.

 Nov 9th 2019.

by Sr. Mary Dillon.

This is a very blessed and joyous day for all of us gathered here.  It is not often that the community celebrates the Silver Jubilee of their Congregational Leader. This day is a gift to all of us; a special moment in Susanna’s life – the Silver Jubilee of her Profession; of her saying “ yes,” totally in love with Jesus.

As we all know Susanna is our first Asian Sister to be chosen as our Congregational Leader; inviting us to continue to embrace our experience of intercultural living, that is our gift to mission (G.C.2017).’

Susanna comes from a farming family of girls, in a place called Young Am, in the diocese of Kwangju at the southern part of South Korea. With her 6 sisters she worked the family farm where she developed a great love of nature; it was a simple life where she was familiar with the joys and sorrows of the local neighbourhood. It was here in this graced environment that Susanna first heard the voice of God calling her in faith to follow Him. It was a great Joy when Fr. Dan O’Gorman baptized her and she took the name Susanna at the age of 13 years in 1983.

By God’s grace Susanna’s faith grew by leaps and bounds. Her quest led her to seek and search out our Columban Sisters Vocation days in Seoul some years later as she felt a strong desire to be a Missionary Sister. Now, sisters, just think for a minute; this young woman was thinking about joining a foreign group who were in the early stage of local vocation ministry, speaking a foreign language and learning customs and rules of the group.  What courage this took and not only that but our charism calls us beyond our country of origin; this had to be very challenging and daunting for any young woman.

  • I remember the day of Susanna’s first Profession and her parents and family celebrating with her. After the liturgical ceremony was over the newly Professed dressed up in their native costume/dress. Susanna looked radiant; her brother in-law was heard to say,“ it is to the wedding hall we should be taking her”; yes, there were cultural challenges that togged at the heart.

After first Profession Susanna was sent to Pakistan for mission experience. She went to England where she qualified as a Nurse.  Her first Mission assignment was to be one of the re-founding group to go to Myanmar in 2003. It had been 36 years since our Columban Sisters were expelled from what was then known as Burma.

           

Susanna writes later, “Here I found great scope for my nursing skills among the desperately sick and poor Kachin people. The political situation was dangerous but I yearned to cross boundaries to seek out the needy. Given the courage, freedom and trust of the Congregation to go beyond and take risk, I was able to spread my wings, to meet God in His beloved poor and sick where I experienced a real deepening of my faith. The Kachin people allowed me to be myself and my faith was furthered nourished through the simplicity of life and warm relationships that I experienced there”.

Susanna’s motto is– “You are precious in my eyes, I honour you and I love you,” (Isaiah 43.4) has resonated throughout her life so that as we saw in the 1st reading; trust is the foundation of her Missionary journey. In the Community Health and Development program (CHAD) that she founded; through basic health and hygiene education programs, through nutrition programs for children and vulnerable people, through digging wells to provide water for isolated communities, and through developing local leaders, her faith, her trust and courage spurred her to go to remote areas in the jungle by motor bike, by boat and on foot, without fear but with a passion to help the people.

This passion leads her to invite young women to our Columban way of Missionary life. We have a number of girls today in Myanmar in our accompaniment program interested in being Columban Sisters because of Susanna’s vision and efforts.

This is a day of gratitude, a Day of celebrating faith, a day when we touch in again to the love of Jesus for each one of us. Jesus said- “I commission you to go out and to bear fruit, fruit that will last……. what I command you is to love one another”. (John 15. 16-17)   This is a Day when we celebrate our Charism alive, as we love one another here in Magheramore or in the jungles in Myanmar; for this let us give constant thanks. Let us thank Susanna for her deep faith, her service and her leadership of the Congregation. On this her Silver Jubilee Day we wish Susanna continual blessings for the journey ahead.

In the words of the poet John O’ Donohue we send you a blessing Susanna!

“ May the nourishment of the earth be yours,

May the clarity of light be yours,

May the fluency of the ocean be yours,

And may the protection of the ancestors be yours

And so, may a slow

wind work these words

Of love around you,

An invisible cloak

To mind your life.”

     

 

 

 

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