We have often heard people say, ‘behind every successful man there is a woman.’ Did we ever stop to think about the vice versa – who is there behind every successful woman? No one. Why? The reason behind this is that from ancient times our society has been a male chauvinistic society. But then, there was this great woman who saw and believed in the strength that women possessed. This great woman was Mother Mary Ward, born on 23rd January 1585 in Elizabethan England. She firmly believed that,
“Divine love is like fire which will not let itself be shut up for it is impossible to love God and not extend God’s honour.”
And so she started to be a beacon of light in the society. Mother Mary Ward from her childhood had seen religious intolerance in England and throughout saw the Catholics suffering. Her grandmother too had been imprisoned but this did not scare her. She was born in a noble family and if she wanted she could have led a comfortable life.
But she was a woman of great faith; she left her home to serve the society. She joined a convent and dedicated herself to active ministry. She did not doubt her Master, instead she trusted Him totally. She, with a band of devoted companions, established themselves as a religious community at St. Omer and opened schools for girls. Her venture was a great success, but it was not acceptable and she had to face opposition. Mary Ward rose above the storm in search of sunshine. She said,
“The best way to bear troubles is to thank God for them; and act not out of fear but solely from love.”
No matter how hard the times were she held her head high and she has truly been a beacon of light.
Within her was the fire of God and His cause. It is this fire that shines till now. Mary Ward offered an audacious vision of what womencould and would do in religious life and pioneered a system of education which prepares them for a role in the service of the Church and society at large. Many schools have been established since then and they have groomed many young girls into beautiful ladieswho are serving the society, carrying the torch and passing it on removing the darkness. The smile on their faces is the signature of her efforts fulfilled.
So dear friends, Mother Mary Ward has truly been a Beacon of Light. She was right and God was by her side. She left everything in God’s hands because she knew that eventually she will find God’s hand in everything. Though times were dark and hard she moved on to enlighten the path of others. And now it is our turn to keep the fire burning. Remember “Her vision is our Mission” and we need to pass it on.
How do I pass on Mary Ward’s vision through my life each day?
Have I experienced God’s divine spark within me?
Nalini Gurung – Friends of Mary Ward, India