The Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity held their centennial celebration on March 19 at the former Holy Trinity Missionary Seminary in Silver Spring, Maryland.
Attendees of the event took part in a mass, reception and art exhibition. Guests included donors and supporters of the religious order, as well as members of the communities they serve.
Missionary servants first arrived in Washington in the 1920s. Father Thomas Augustine Judge, who helped establish the order of priests and friars, is currently considered for holiness.
John Butler, the vice president for mission development and advancement for Trinity Missions, whose work supports the order’s outreach and helps its retired priests and brethren with clothing, medicine, food and utility costs, noted, “Many of our missionary services here serve locally communities just in the neighborhood and throughout the Washington metro area.
In the Washington area, mission servants collect donated furniture, food, and clothing for distribution to local migrant families in need. They also work to connect migrant families with organizations to help them overcome obstacles they may face, such as finding an education for their children or safety for those suffering from domestic violence. In cases where families need help applying for asylum, mission servants will refer them to CASA of Maryland, where they can meet with immigration attorneys.
Butler noted how critical Father Judge’s role was in establishing order. More than 100 years ago, Father Judge, then a Vincentian priest, traveled to Alabama with lay women and men to establish mission parishes.
“Father Judge was very, very concerned about the laity. It’s a cenacle family, that’s how he brought the laity together in the first place,” Butler said. Cenacle means “upper room” and is the name of the Christian holy place in Jerusalem which is believed to be the room where Jesus held his last supper with his apostles and where the risen Christ appeared to them, and where they received the gifts of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
Reflecting on the early days of the religious order, Butler said, “It was mainly women who joined him when he went to Alabama and Mississippi to begin his work there and began to do early work with education. He invited the lay people he was working with in the New York area to come and it was women first…therefore it was the order of our sisters that was established first.
Father Judge was instrumental in founding a religious order of sisters in the South called the Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity. Then, in 1921, Father Judge created the Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity, an order of priests and brothers commonly known today as the Missions of the Trinity.
Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, was the principal celebrant of the Anniversary Mass, which was concelebrated by Father Michael Barth, who is the Custodian General (Major Superior) of Missionary Servants and President of Trinity Missions . Father Domingo Rodríguez was the preacher of the mass.
Missionary servants serve approximately 250,000 people each week. This effort is spread across 37 missions in the United States and Puerto Rico, Haiti, Mexico, Costa Rica, Honduras and Colombia. A press release on the order’s centennial notes, “Holy Trinity Mission priests and brothers work in dioceses and mission parishes in the heart of economically disadvantaged areas, on Native American reservations, in forests humid tropics and in isolated cities of the Great South…”
Missionary servants in Compton, California serve as spiritual guides and counselors to people affiliated with gangs, showing them how to leave their violent lives. In Arizona, missionaries serve the Tohono O’odham Nation and the Yaqui Tribe. Abroad, priests and brothers work in clinics and offer medical care in Haiti, Honduras and Colombia.
Father Barth noted how the Mass reflected the different cultures served by the missionary servants. English, Spanish and Creole were spoken and sung during mass.
“The liturgy was a mixture of these languages, traditions, spirituality and song, Scripture and music to enrich… These cultures bring the universality of the Church, and our charism which has been left to us, by spreading, also brings all these different cultures and integrates them into our charism,” he said.
According to Fr. Barth, Haiti is currently at the center of the missionary servants’ fundraising projects.
“Our dream is to build a school, we have an elementary school there at the mission that has over 200 kids, elementary age, but they’re in log cabins with thatched roof type things, so we would like to build a more substantial school where they could learn much better,” he said.
After Mass, attendees were encouraged to enjoy the reception and art exhibit featuring paintings and drawings by Brother Richard McCann, a member of the Missionary Servants.
Brother McCann works from the main ministry house, providing spiritual direction and creating artwork. He grew up in Philadelphia and has been a member of the Missionary Servants since 1960. Brother McCann attributed his inspiration to become a missionary to his sister.
“My sister was a Little Sister of the Assumption, she entered right after high school, it was just up the street from our house, very close to her convent. We were visiting, and you know how the sisters are, they make you do things,” Brother McCann said. “Just through their association I worked with them, they were nurses and social workers, not in hospitals, but in poor families.”
Brother McCann played sports with the children entrusted to the Little Sisters of the Assumption. He says that one day, one of the sisters asked him what he was going to do with his life.
“I said, ‘I do, I work, I’m not in the military now, I go to art school at night, I have a brand new car, I do,’ and then she says, ‘What are you really going to do with your life?’ I thought about it and then I found Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity and said, ‘This is the place for me’, this was the spirit that was guiding me,” Elder McCann said. .
Brother McCann has been painting since he was three years old. His artwork was on sale during the centennial event, to help raise funds for the order’s mission in Haiti.
One of the paintings created by Brother McCann, depicting the emblem of the Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity, was made specifically with the centennial celebration in mind.
“Blessed be the Holy and Undivided Trinity, now and forever, Amen,” Brother McCann said. “It is what it is.”
While the imagery in this painting is celestial, with a face of Jesus and the hand of God, many of Brother McCann’s pieces include images of saints, landscapes and nature, and the faces of refugees he has created to highlight the migrant crisis.
“Father Judge says, ‘You must remember that each person is an image of the Holy Trinity, each person, (and) God is the God of all,'” Brother McCann said of his charcoal sketches. As for the theme of nature in his works, he said, “You are inspired by God’s creation, you find God there too, many people find God in nature.
Brother McCann’s artistic talents were applied and appreciated in various capacities before his paintings and sketches.
“The master of novices first put me in the tailor’s shop, to make habits, I knew how to thread a needle, one of the brothers taught me… but then he found out that I could paint , so I restored old statues at Holy Trinity in Alabama, so that was the start,” Brother McCann said.
The art exhibit sold 15 paintings and raised $2,745 for the Missionary Servants Mission in Haiti. The centenary celebration ended with an awards ceremony in the evening. The next Art for Haiti fundraiser is scheduled to take place in the fall.
(For more information on the Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity, go to https://trinitymissions.org/.)