Focusing on the Extraordinary Missionary Month

This meeting of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia-Singapore-Brunei is taking place a few months prior to the celebration of the Extraordinary Mission Month, which will be held in October 2019.

Aug 02, 2019

Below is an excerpt of the talk given by Archbishop Joseph Marino, Apostolic Nuncio to Malaysia, during the recent Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei meeting in Majodi, Johor.

This meeting of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia-Singapore-Brunei is taking place a few months prior to the celebration of the Extraordinary Mission Month, which will be held in October 2019. The Conference itself, in all of its works, has the particular ministry of promoting collaboration among the bishops, in carrying out the mission of the Church so that the message of the Gospel will be transmitted to the people in an efficient, effective and fruitful manner.

In the draft document on the reform of the Roman Curia, Predecate evangelium (PD), the Bishops’ Conference is given much prominence and, even in the Prologue, we read: “Today, the emergence of the Conferences of Bishops represents one of the more recent forms of ancient concepts of the communio episcoporum which expresses itself as in service to the communio ecclesiarum based on the communio fidelium. The Bishops’ Conference is one of the more significant ways to express and serve ecclesial communion in diverse regions of the world together with the Roman Pontiff, the guarantor of unity” (Prologue).

From the very beginning of this talk, I wish to congratulate you sincerely for having taken, already, concrete initiatives for a fruitful celebration of the Extraordinary Mission Month. So much so that the Osservatore Romano last December 19 published an article dedicated to what the Church here is doing for the special month. It pointed out that the dioceses were planning to celebrate this Mission Month in a particular way, beginning with the session of formation dedicated to Catholic leaders involved in pastoral activity. In fact, there was a special liturgy, which recalled that the mandate of Christ to go into the world and announce the Gospel is not an option for the Church but it is its essential work, and every baptised person, by virtue of Baptism, is called to the mission of evangelisation.

In fact, you have already defined in a succinct way the very motto or theme of the Mission Month, that is, “baptised and sent”. Those three words tell us that the evangelisation of peoples is the work of every member of the Church, the entire community, individually and collectively.

Therefore, with that in mind, I would like to reflect with you on the action of the entire people of God, that is, every member of your Particular Church, in the mission of announcing the Gospel, within the concept of synodality.
Before focusing on that particular reflection, let us for a moment look at the significance of the Extraordinary Mission Month. In its February 2019 edition of Catholic Asian News, a series of articles were given, dealing with the Mission Month. I am sure that you will recall that one article provided a very good summary of the documents dealing with the Mission Month.

First of all, the Mission Month is commemorating the one hundredth anniversary of the Apostolic Letter of Pope Benedict XV, Maximum Illud, published on November 30, 1919. This document gave concrete guidelines so that the Church could embrace principles and priorities in order to evangelise successfully throughout the world. This letter recalls that, throughout the history of the Church, missionary activity produced concrete fruits as a result of the exemplary and extraordinary witness of missionaries, men and women. their holiness of life, their dedication, their zeal, their endurance and even their sacrifice of life. Witness of life to the Gospel was/is more important than words and doctrine in promoting, proclaiming and announcing the Good News.

Already in his Letter of 1919, Pope Benedict XV explained that the ministry of evangelisation is not only for missionaries, but it is an obligation that belongs to all Catholics. All members of the Church are called to share in this work. One way that grew from this call for universal participation in missionary work was the creation of the Pontifical Mission Societies and their relative collections, and for this I wish to praise the people of the Churches in Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei for their outstanding generosity in giving to the yearly mission collection.

When Pope Francis called for this Mission Month, which he did through a letter addressed to the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples and dated October 22, 2017, he referred to the letter of Benedict XV who even then emphasised the need to make evangelisation Gospel centered in the spread of the love of the Lord is destined for all people. In his letter, he quoted his own words in the Joy of the Gospel, “mere administration can no longer be enough”, instead the Church must embrace “a missionary option capable of transforming everything, so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and customs can be suitably channelled for the evangelisation of today’s world rather than for her self-preservation” (EG n. 15). In his Apostolic Exhortation to young people, Christ lives (CV), Pope Francis put it this way: “The Church should not be excessively caught up in herself but instead, and above all, reflect Jesus Christ. This means humbly acknowledging that some things concretely need to change” (CV, 39).

--Continued next week

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