SIMPSONVILLE—Father Declan Gibson brought an Advent message to St. Mary Magdalene Church Dec. 4, telling more than 300 people the “untold story” of their parish patroness.
Using Father Sean Davidson’s 2017 book, “Mary Magdalene, Prophetess of Eucharistic Love”, Father Gibson explained why St. Mary Magdalene is often referred to as “the apostle to the apostles.”
“She truly is the adorer of Jesus,” Father Gibson told the crowd.
Reading from John’s account of St. Mary Magdalene’s discovery of the empty tomb and the dialogue between Jesus and her recounted in the Gospel, Father Gibson said she is deserving of the title “apostle to the apostles.”
“This is an extraordinary saint in Mary Magdalene,” he said. “The story of Mary Magdalene is a story of an extraordinary life of repentance, conversion and love.”
Father Gibson, vocations director of Missionaries of the Most Holy Eucharist based in Saint Maximin, France, said Mary, who had traveled with Jesus in the days leading up to his death and resurrection, was a woman of wealth, as well as a sinner.
“She becomes the repentant sinner … the most devoted and beloved disciple to accompany Jesus,” Father Gibson said.
As recounted in the Gospels, St. Mary Magdalene was the last to leave Jesus’ burial tomb and the first to see Jesus after the resurrection, he said. She would then tell the other disciples what she experienced at the empty tomb.
“She becomes the apostle to the apostles, announcing the good news that Jesus has risen,” Father Gibson said.
St. Mary Magdalene’s life after the Ascension is less clear, he said. She would continue her mission of proclaiming Christ’s love, but eventually be forced — along with other early Christians — to flee the region to avoid persecution.
Father Gibson said St. Mary Magdalene and others would cross the Mediterranean Sea, landing in the region around what is now Marseille, France, and finally to a cave in the mountains above St. Maximin.
“This became the home of Mary Magdalene,” Father Gibson said. She would spend the final 30 years of her life in this cave, “living a life of solitude and contemplation,” he said.
Born in Ireland, Father Gibson was ordained into the priesthood in June 2016 by Bishop Dominique Rey, bishop of the Diocese of Fréjus–Toulon in southern France.
According to the Missionaries of the Most Holy Eucharist website, Bishop Rey formed the order in 2007 as a public clerical association promoting perpetual Eucharistic adoration in parishes and dioceses. The community is in charge of the St. Maximin Basilica, which houses the relics of St. Mary Magdalene. Her feast day is celebrated July 22. Pope Francis added it as a feast day on the Church calendar in June 2017.
As part of his presentation, Father Gibson led a benediction procession through the congregation.
Father Teo Trujillo, pastor, said the program was “a beautiful way for us to celebrate this holy season. The real presence of Jesus is in the Holy Eucharist.”