The assistance of Turkish Catholics and their cause is admirable. When I read of the example of Sister Marie de Mandat-Grancey, I find myself inspired, too. Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-Saint Joseph tells us why the sainthood cause of a French-born woman religious of Turkey is being promoted and financed in the American midwest:
About two years ago I participated in a pilgrimage to Meryem Ana Evi, or “Mary’s House” in Ephesus, Turkey.
While I was in Turkey, I met with Erin and the current Archbishop of Izmir, Ruggero Franceschini. In this meeting Erin encouraged the Archbishop to promote Sr. Marie’s cause. In February of 2010, I was formally petitioned by Archbishop Franceschini to assist with the cause, given the insufficient personnel and other resources of the Archdiocese in Turkey. After a series of discussions and prayerful considerations, I requested, and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph was granted, jurisdiction by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints for this initiative.
And yet this leaves me dry. Religious men and women have their own communities to further their cause. Clergy have their brother priests and bishop. Lay people have pretty much nobody, even when the example is well-known, heroic, and apparently a lifelong example, like this man’s.
As an act of charity, perhaps wealthy First World dioceses can and should support the sainthood cause on behalf of those who cannot afford the costly Roman process. But at the same time, saints are called out from the masses of heaven to provide inspiration and example to believers on earth. Especially young believers. Just as I would ask Bishop Loverde when he will step up for his own diocese’s saint, I would ask Bishop Finn why he hasn’t added some worthy northwest Missourian to the cause. After all, if one can’t find a saint in one’s midst, how can we be sure a saint can be found on the other side of the world?
The religious imagination is certainly inspired by people who visit where the apostles, martyrs, and Biblical saints served and lived. But it is also fruitful to consider the saints who walked our streets, shopped our markets, volunteered in our parishes and civic functions, married and raised families among us, and who are closer to our hearts as people of our own. Just like the saints of old before Rome turned it from a cottage industry into a mass-market phenomenon.
It wouldn’t be unfitting for every bishop in the world to forward the cause of one lay person from his diocese. If for nothing else than to demonstrate more clearly that sanctity is not something far off and high above us. And to inspire others to follow in the footsteps of the saints.