Multi-cultural Community at the heart of the vocation of the Little sisters of Jesus

There is a lot of research and talk today about multiculturalism in religious life. My reading about it has been limited to be honest. But I think that my community, the Little Sisters of Jesus, has a certain experience of it that might be interesting to simply share.

Our tent community in El Abiodh Our tent community in El Abiodh

We were founded in 1939 by Magdeleine Hutin who started in Algeria among nomadic tribes of the Sahara to be a simple presence of friendship and God’s love.   At the same time, by that very presence, she sought to break down barriers of prejudice by simply crossing them in love and respect.  While not monastic, our vocation is to be contemplative, to seek the face of God in a life that is deeply rooted in the ordinary life of people who have suffered from poverty or exclusion of one kind or another.

Magdeleine never expected her community to be more than a small group geared solely to this nomadic and Muslim population.  But a strange thing happened.  After World War II many women, especially in her native France, became captivated by this way of  “presence.”  As the numbers increased some began asking to go to other countries and in 1947 she understood that this 'vocation of Bethlehem and Nazareth' could be lived anywhere.  With the audacity that emboldened all of our founders she got herself a ticket to travel around the world.  Wherever she found a willing bishop - and there were many who refused her - she would leave a few young sisters behind to 'do it.'