We are celebrating today, January 15, the Feast of St. Arnold Janssen, Founder of the three Mission Congregations of Steyl, Netherlands: the Society of the Divine Word (SVD), the Missionary Sisters, Servant of the Holy Spirit (SSpS) and our own congregation, the Sister-Servants of the Holy Spirit of Perpetual Adoration (SSpSAP)
Many things have already been written about him; many people have given testimony of him. All his Sons and Daughters love him, revere him and believe in his vision and mission, otherwise, we would not be here now! And even today, he is active in the Church and in the lives of many who have experienced his help and intercession. We have a part in making him alive in this present time. His vision, his mission has become ours and we continue it in a way that is particular to each of the Congregations he had founded.
His courage, resoluteness, and his tenacity when it comes to doing God’s will was remarkable and admirable. He was a man whose compass in life was the will of God. Against all odds and in extreme poverty, he founded the Society of the Divine Word; he was ridiculed and thought of as a fool… His faith was strong: he believed that, even if all was falling apart because of the Kulturkampf in Germany, and precisely because of this, a new mission would have to be found, something new must replace what had crumbled and had been destroyed…. Only time could tell what had become of the man whom they thought of as unfit for this kind of work – a fool or a saint? Last October 5, 2003, he was canonized by Pope John Paul II – a Saint indeed!
He had loved God, and it was this love that made him pursue the work that he felt called to do, and he had allowed this love to mold him and to make of him a mild and kindhearted Father in his later years. It was this love of Jesus, the “Word made flesh” that made him a Saint, a great love that he shared with us, his spiritual Sons and Daughters, and which he shared and continues to share through us to the whole world.