She is patroness of missioners everywhere.
Name: St. Thérèse of Lisieux, O.Carm.
Feast day: October 1
Why on earth would the pope name a contemplative nun co-patroness of missions around the world? In a word, prayer. And, in another solidarity.
Who doesn’t know the story of Thérèse, the Little Flower? Born in 1873, she never lived beyond her home region of Normandy, France. Her father (Louis) and mother (Zelie) had originally considered living together as celibate contemplatives but were advised otherwise. They then had nine children, only 5 of whom survived infancy. All five became nuns. Mom, Dad, and Thérèse, all three, are recognized as Catholic saints. The parents, canonized in 2015, are the first married couple ever to be canonized together.
Thérèse lived a life of prayer and service. She is remembered best for writing down her thoughts on holiness in the ordinary, what she called “the little way.” Although entering the convent with aspirations to live a holy and great life, she soon realized her mistake. She started to see the hand of God in the everyday.
She, who desired to one day go to the missions abroad, prayed her simple prayers for the good of the Church worldwide. She died young, at 24, and never went. But she showed that one needn’t do big things to contribute to the Church’s missionary witness. She had a missioner’s heart.
Thérèse showed us that we all are missioners, not only by our presence in the community, but also by joining our prayers in solidarity with the missioners who are, spreading God’s word “to the ends of the earth,” whether that be close to home or in distant lands.
St. Therese, you show us that greatness lies in the little things around us. Pray with us that we might find inspiration in the everyday, and that might develop a “missionary heart” that we can bring to the people around us.