Communities of missionary disciples going forth in joy to share the Good News of God's love. We're on a mission to discover God's love and share it with others. The Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers were founded almost 100 years ago to animate and support the Catholic Church in the U.S. to live up to its baptismal call to participate in the Christ's mission to bring the Good News of God's love to the world.
Cultivating a true Culture of Mission in our Catholic parishes and communities is in many ways the essential challenge of our Church today. In Part One of the four part reflection, we examine what this really means. By Kevin Foy Associate Director, Western Region Maryknoll Mission Education and Promotion
Part One - A Culture of Bridging Distances
One of the challenges in mission is dispelling the notion that missionaries are those chosen few sent out to do wonderful things in the world, while the rest of us stay home. In the past, this mantle was reserved almost solely for the women and men religious of missionary societies and orders (like Maryknoll). Today, we tend also to include lay people who go out into the world, and even may have “mission projects” in our parish, such as a sister parish relationship. While these are welcome developments, one of the essential challenges today is to move beyond the “special” person/project view of mission to embrace mission as the defining characteristic and purpose of our Church. Put more simply, we need to move towards a culture of mission.
To talk about a culture of mission, we need at least a baseline understanding of what “mission” means in the Catholic context. In plainest terms, we are talking about God’s mission of love, which we are called to bring into the world. The question of how we do this can and should be complex and challenging. For our purposes here, though, it is most important to know simply that the “how” is rooted in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. When Jesus sat at the table with outcasts, when he conversed with the Samaritan woman at the well, when he called upon his disciples to share what little bread and fish they had with the community around them, he was showing us how to evangelize - how to share and receive God’s love. This is at the heart of what it means to be a disciple of Christ.
We do this, of course, in community. Discipleship is defined through relationship, both with God and one another. The question we must always ask ourselves is whether our community is one of missionary disciples; whether our Church is God’s Missionary Church. Pope Francis offers us beautiful, challenging language around what such a Church might look like: “An evangelizing community,” he says, “gets involved by word and deed in people’s daily lives; it bridges distances, it is willing to abase itself if necessary, and it embraces human life, touching the suffering flesh of Christ in others” (Evangelii Gaudium, 24). This speaks to the very reason that God’s mission has a Church.
Every community has margins to reach, distances to bridge. One of the programs that we offer in Maryknoll, in collaboration with the Columban Fathers, is an immersion to the border towns of El Paso, Texas, and Juarez, Mexico. Participants spend time on either side of the border, experiencing the realities of people and how the Church is walking with them. The seeming arbitrariness of the border fence, and the impact that it has on people’s lives, provides a powerful example of how we as a human race are a divided people. Still, even in communities where no literal border fences exist, strong divisions do - economic divisions, racial/ethnic divisions, divisions of privilege and prejudice. When we talk about “evangelizing communities,” we are really talking about communities that seek to unify a divided world in love and justice, as Jesus did and Christians (though admittedly not always) have been seeking to do ever since Jesus began showing us the way.
The challenge is not only that our Catholic parishes and Western culture tend be too inwardly focused, but also that we see this activity of bridging distances as relegated to specific times, places, and people. For instance, we send our youth on a two-week mission trip to Tijuana and check off “mission” from our yearly tasklist. While there is real value in crossing physical borders on these short-term experiences, we need to build on these experiences to move towards an integrated missionary discipleship in our Catholic communities.
In Part Two, we will explore how missionary transformation occurs in individuals and communities.
by Matt Gray,originally published in the Catholic Community of Pleasantonbulletin
A couple of weeks ago, I went with two others on a missionary immersion trip affiliated with the Maryknoll order of priests and nuns. We traveled to Haiti and spent one week in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. We didn’t go to “do” anything or to try to build or “fix” anything. The model that we used was one of encounter. The metaphor is to walk with care through someone else’s garden. This posture is central to what it is to do “mission” work today.
There was a strong spiritual dimension to our time in Haiti. On three mornings we celebrated Mass at the convent of the Missionaries of Charity, the religious order founded by Mother Teresa. We also joined the Sisters at their clinic. Inside the clinic is a room that contains 44 cribs and in each crib is a malnourished infant. The infants’ mothers bring their babies to the clinic because they have no food for them and their tiny bodies show sign…
Position Announcement Mission Education Specialist - Promoter New York (Ossining)
Join the Maryknoll Society’s Mission Education Team to help U.S. Catholics share God’s love as communities of missionary disciples. Motivated by love and challenged by the Gospel, Maryknoll’s global mission ministry aims to build bridges of solidarity and compassion with marginalized people throughout Asia, Africa, and Latin America. We are seeking a Mission Education Specialist - Promoter to engage in outreach to Catholic educators and students as part of our U.S. ministry to foster a culture of mission through mission education and engagement programs. This position specializes in developing global mission education resources for middle school students in line with the Maryknoll Society’s mission vision and Pope Francis’ vision for a missionary Church. Based out of our headquarters in Ossining, New York.
Responsibilities: Cultivate and maintain relationships with strategic partners to promote mission and…
Isis (pictured), became involved in the Catholic Worker community and educational program founded by Maryknoll Father Tom Goekler in Honduras, after Fr. Tom helped her mother secure a home for the family. Now, Isis and her brother, Carlos, run the program in Guatemala City with a community of other young adults and local mothers. They live and serve in one of the most marginalized and dangerous neighborhoods in the world. Their community is a sign of hope and peace, a place of warmth, welcome, community, and love.
Today is the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene, who wakes to the empty tomb and weeps, yet recognizes the Risen Christ in the midst of her despair and announces new hope to the world. Christian people are challenged by the witness of Mary Magdalene, by women and men like Isis and Carlos, and by our belief in the Gospel of Jesus to announce the Good News, especially at times when God's love seems most distant.
We cannot ignore the crises in our midst, but must address them with…