RSCJ Uganda/Kenya Province | Profiles

A DIALOGUE WITH SAINT ROSE PHILIPPINE DUCHESNE


Jeniffer Mutiso, nscj

Jeniffer Mutiso, NSCJ

Jenny: Hello, Philippine, I am glad to have known you through reading and hearing about your life. You really inspire and challenge me by your strong personality. With missionary courage you looked to the future with the eyes of the heart, a heart that was on fire with God’s love. You took on the mission to go and teach all nations, reminding us that the call to holiness is universal and does not know the boundaries of nation, political system, culture or race. Personally I identify you as a lover of the poor, a faithful woman who prays always, a bearer of the cross, a pioneer missionary, a single hearted woman, and a woman of steadfast vision.

What attracts me most is your attitude towards the poor and your love for prayer. You dedicated your life gifts to the poor and the marginalized. So Philippine, please tell me first about your relationship with the poor.

Philippine: Well, my daughter, I was always drawn to the most deprived. I saw Jesus Christ in the poor, as I wrote once; “It is my happiness and glory to serve my Divine Saviour in the person of the unfortunate and the poor.” During the revolution I took a risk to help the dying, visit the prisoners and care for the sick both physically and spiritually. I provided free education for those who had been denied the privilege; young women, the poor, and the Native Americans.

Jesus has shown us His way and he showed a preferential love for the poor and the disenfranchised. And so, Jenny, as you desire to follow him more closely, I do encourage you to serve the poor and to learn from them. As St Teresa of Avila said, “Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks with compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world.”

Jenny: Wow! No wonder Catherine Mooney named you a woman with a special predilection for the poor. I understand that Christ for you was all about the suffering Christ who suffered for love of others.

Philippine: Yes, I had a call as a young child to share what I had with any poor person I met and, as you mentioned earlier in our conversation, this call of being drawn to the most deprived was one that stayed with me throughout my life. As you say Jenny, I saw Christ in those who were suffering.

Jenny: Wonderful… Since childhood you also had a strong attachment to the Eucharist and to being united with Jesus in prayer. Philippine, could you please tell me more about your prayer life.

Philippine: Well, I found Christ in the Eucharist; I needed to be near Jesus, to draw strength, courage and wisdom from Him. It was necessary for me to bring everything to the feet of Christ, to lay before Him my duties and responsibilities, to talk over with Him my problems and anxieties.

Jenny: Prayer then was the breath of your soul. Did you have enough time to pray, with all the duties and responsibilities you had?

Philippine: Yes, I had. “When one loves God, one never says enough.” Prayer was my wellspring, even if I was exhausted and dry as dust, I needed to be near Jesus. First of all, Jenny, before praying, make time for it; nurture that desire for intimacy with Jesus; stay close and be there with Him and for Him; then do what you can realizing that we cultivate a very small field for Christ but we love it, knowing that God does not require great achievements, but a heart that holds back nothing for self.

Jenny: Thank you, Philippine for giving me this time to chat with you. Thank you for your inspiration; you have helped me to grow. Thank you for your gift of prayer and the love of the poor. Pray for the Society of the Sacred Heart that we may have, as you did, a special predilection for the poor and a deep love of prayer.

Philippine: Surely, Jenny, this is my prayer for you and for all Religious of the Sacred Heart. I am happy too to have had this time with you and hope we may have many more chats like this.