February 24, 2023 | Mary Rose Corkery
The four pillars of Mustard Seed Communities are simplicity, freedom, generosity, and community. Each of these has an indelible place in MSC’s mission and are symbolized within the organization’s logo.
The human mind can see something small and imagine something much larger and amorphous. Consider how two mirrored curves can signify the immeasurable love of the human heart, when, in reality, the anatomical organ looks nothing like our valentines. Like with the shape of a heart, Mustard Seed Communities’ logo is infused with meaning beyond its image.
MSC’s logo could bring to mind whatever you wish – like the smile of Hogar Immanuel resident Francis, or the laugh of My Father’s House resident Ann. Layered atop that personal meaning is another one, carefully mapped out by MSC’s founder, Msgr. Gregory Ramkissoon.
Above, with Ann and Francis, is the logo of Mustard Seed Communities – you’ve probably seen it countless times, but have we taken a moment to consider each sweep of a line or the angles in its corners? These signifiers have a purpose: to be signs of those four pillars of simplicity, freedom, generosity, and community.
Each pillar is a core value of MSC. They play into every decision and thought that enliven our mission of caring for the most vulnerable in Jamaica, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Zimbabwe, and Malawi. Every MSC apostolate across these five countries will display the logo designed to signify the four pillars.
The logo image is broken down into four parts, each with its own meaning: two beams of a cross and two beams of a roof. The cross is sheltered by the roof, bringing to mind the shelter that MSC provides to over 600 residents around the world. A single beam of light shines from the cross.
- The vertical beam of the cross signifies simplicity. There is a “poverty of spirit” inherent in all of God’s children, reinforcing the simplicity of life. “Poverty,” in this case, does not refer to something lacking; instead, it suggests that we are replete with God’s joy and love rather than with the heavy weight of worldly concern. It is related to the vow of poverty taken by servants of the Church (many of whom are priests, like our founder, Msgr. Gregory, and our Executive Director of MSC International, Fr. Garvin), but anyone can harness the power of simplicity throughout their inner journey by viewing God as the wellspring of all we do.
- The horizontal beam of the cross signifies freedom. In the human family, we are all free to decide whether or not we will follow God’s leading steps. Because of our freedom, we are able to truly love and serve. It is our choice! We freely recognize the goodness and truth in what we pursue and constantly revive our passion for what is right. Everybody deserves the freedom to decide what it is they believe, and here at MSC we believe in sharing the loving embrace of God.
- The left beam of the sheltering roof signifies generosity. It is said that through generosity, we “put to death the selfish ways of the flesh.” To put it more positively, when we are generous, we give of ourselves through our spirit, gifts, and time. Signified by the sheltering beam, a generous spirit ought to strive for recognition of every human person’s dignity by providing food, clothing, healthcare, a home, and love. In gratitude for all that God has given us, MSC’s mission is to act as the hands and feet of God’s giving spirit.
- The right beam of the sheltering roof signifies community. Human history shows us that no person can complete a fulfilling life all on their own. It’s in a community that we are best able to grow, learn, and love. A community creates the conditions we need to be free: free to be ourselves, free to express need, and free to fulfill others’ needs. Together, we form a shelter for our brothers and sisters, the Body of Christ. Mustard Seed Communities is a family that spans oceans, generations, and all kinds of differences, but love and mutual care unites us.
There is one last element of our MSC logo that cannot be ignored. At the foot of the cross is a sunbeam opening wide. It represents the Light of Christ that is found in the shelter of God. With the Holy Eucharist at the heart of our mission, the Word made Flesh shining upon all of us is a crucial signifier of our organizational identity. There is nowhere that the light cannot reach.
So, how is it that this image, our familiar MSC logo, can encapsulate so much meaning inside a small circle? It brings us back to the difference between the shape of a heart and the feeling of love; in a similar way, an image of a cross can signify that larger and amorphous creator God who inspires our mission of caring, sharing, and training.
The pillars of simplicity, freedom, generosity, and community serve as incredible guideposts for sharing goodness with all who we meet. “Thank you, Lord,” for giving us minds capable of conceptualizing all of this inspiration with the help of a single glance.