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3 months of preparation for Mission Ad Gentes

07/01/2013: Spain

We, Brothers Andrés Barrera and Mitsuaki Hatanaka, of the Provinces of l’Hermitage and « Santa María de los Andes », followed a course in Missiology at the School for Missionary Formation in Madrid, Spain, from 14 September to 15 December. We enjoyed the richness of the variety of charisms among the participants : priests, laity and religious – men and women. At the end of the course, here we are happy and content, desiring to go in haste, like Mary, to a new land. We are grateful to God and to all who made this course possible. The Brothers of the communities of Chamberí and Xaudaró made us feel at home ; their support and witness were extraordinary. We travelled the path of brotherhood, the spiritual way, attentive to the  missionary reality of the Church through the formation.

The learning of those three months was intense. We encountered the Lord of History in the prayers and eucharists celebrated during the course. We note the excellent organisation of the School’s Team of Co-ordination, the good programming and the judicious choice of teachers. The course opened for us a new horizon for Mission Ad Gentes. It promoted sharing on many levels : knowledge, experience, reflections, questions, proposals of activities, etc. We experienced a  profound ambiance of ecclesial and spiritual fraternity. Our teachers showed an excellent theological and ecclesial approach, fully in touch with reality. So it will be necessary, in our missions, to adapt everything in endeavouring to put into practice what we learned in the different   places to which we are assigned. We underline some ideas :

  •  Mission is not part of the work of the Church, it is the Church itself. So we are ecclesial communities which pray, share, grow in faith and make our way in brotherhood, being a sign of inter-religious dialogue, prophetic signs in the face of political or social systems and a world economy which creates systems of oppression. To be missionary is to be a sign of the Lord to the extent that one knows God and lets himself be challenged by the Word, history, reality, and the ecclesial and institutional community.
  • We are all missionaries in our milieux. The one who leaves on Mission Ad Gentes is not the  centre of the world, no more than the one who brings a urgents problems. Quite simply, he is a Christian who is inserted in the local Church, becomes integrated and begins to journey with the Christians in trying to live and construct together the Kingdom of God and his  justice. The missionary needs to live brotherhood in a community within the Church. We are not stars who put ourselves in front, but signs of the presence of God.
  • Out of respect for the people, the missionary tries to learn their language. He is aware of his limits, so he learns about the new situation, looks at it, listens to the people and the cry of the poor, discerns the call of God in community and begins to live the Project of the Church where he has been welcomed, letting himself be challenged by the situation and the ‘dream’ of God. Then he finds strength in God through personal and community prayer.
  • The missionary is a person open to dialogue within the community and outside with the world, with reality, with other religions ; it is necessary to try to dialogue with persons by speaking their own language. Finally, he cannot incarnate a Project unless he allows it to challenge him on the level of the heart. The Project should foster the growth of the Kingdom and its justice. If not, the missionary harms the community more than helping it.

We pray the Lord, master of the harvest, to send many workers, witnesses of the Kingdom of God and its justice ; we place our confidence in the good Mother and Saint Marcellin Champagnat. Brothers or lay Marists, we give each other mutual encouragement in the mission tasks we carry out in our respective milieux. May we live with authenticity our vocation according to God’s design for every Christian, but in community and inserted in our Church.

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