Page 4, 11th March 1966

11th March 1966
Page 4
Page 4, 11th March 1966 — Facing the challenge

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Facing the challenge

ik;?Hfrf GLRAt O MAHON, Mil M. SUPERIOR GENERAL 4 CATHOLIC HERALD, Friday. March I I966 THE VATICAN Council has challenged us all to face up to our vocation as Christians. As a group in the world we are growing relatively smaller each year, while the nonChristian world grows more and more numerous. Yet, "Preach the Gospel to every creature" is still Christ's command to His Church.

The Council has shown clearly where the responsibility for that preaching lies: not upon a small group of enthusiastsmissionaries—but upon the whole of the People of God_ "The whole Church is missionary" the Council Decree on Missionary Activity insists. "The work of evangelisation is the fundamental task of the People of God."

Whether we live in a garden suburb of London or of Nairobi, in d shipyard parish on the Clyde or in Yokaharna, In Blackpool or the Bahamas, all of us, clergy and laity alike, are called by the very fact of our Baptism, to help to bring the "Good News" of salvation to the whole world.

There is only one Church and it has one mission, the mission of Christ to the world. "At home" or "on the missions" the work of the Church is the same. Only the conditions under which it is working are different. and these conditions make one country "missionary" and another not.

HERE IS the challenge the Council throws down to us— each One of us belongs to a Church that by its very inmost nature is and must be missionary, and we must be the same.

Men like Herbert Vaughan understood this and acted upon It one hundred years ago. That is why he opened his missionary college in Mill Hill, London, even though he had only one professor and one student—he himself being the professor.

Ilk vision has been amply rewarded: The Mill Hill Missionaries he founded now number over 1,200 priests and brothers, recruited from nine countries but with English as their common language.

IN ADDITION, an impressive list of other missionary institutes, with priests and brothers. sisters and lay members are evidence of the growth of a missionary spirit throughout the country in the 20th century.

Much therefore has been achieved between Vatican I and Vatican II. Now we must prepare for the future, and in tha Decree on Missionary Activity, Vatican 11 has given us our charter for the 21st century.

It calls for new developments in missionary techniques and training, a clearer appreciation of the position and function of mis_sionary societies in the Church; it demands that the young Churches of mission lands be fully integrated into the life of the Church, making their own specific contribution to its development.

AND FOR all Of us the Decree has put a new dimension into our Caholicism, a world dimension that is a challenge to the dosed, inward-looking religion which is all many Catholics have so far known.

For the missionary, the future means changes in his training, his outlook and his techniques. The ending of the colonial era, the rapid economic, social and polticial advance in the developing countries, the growth of the young Churches with their own hierarchies—so dramatically evidenced at the Council—all this has fundamentally altered the condition.s under which the missionary is working. A revision therefore in missionary thinking is imperative.

Herbert Vaughan wrote of the missioner "with Breviary and Crucifix as his sole weapons". And these are indeed as fundamental today as they ever were: prayer, self-sacrifice BUT TI1E young Churches of the developing world have advanced beyond the stage when a mud and wattle bush school with an untrained leacher was an institution so extra They, too, have entered the age when "secondary education for all" is their target and a university their pride. They too feel the impact of the technological revolution, and the Press, Radio and TV have made the talking drum as much a curiosity for them as for us.

Catholics want to make their contribution to this developing society and they look to the missionary for both general pastoral care and for specialised guidance.

TODAY. THEREFORE, the missionary needs a broadly based training that will fit him to help the people of his mission in their struggle to come to terms with the rapidly evolving society in which they live.

In Missionary seminaries, in addition to theological, liturgical and catechetical studies, increased attention is paid to the theory and practice of Catholic social action as part of the pastoral training course so that future priests can learn the specialised techniques useful in the different stages of building the Christian community—stages brilliantly analysed in chapter two of the Mission Decree.

The missionary of the future will put into practice the ideal of service in a different context from that his predecessors knew. They died young in the service of their people. Today the missionary lives much longer—but he must be ready to work under local hierarchies and local superiors.

THE TRAINING of local lay leaders—often no easy 'task —must be given even higher priority than in the past. The practical application of ecumenism adds to the missionary's responsibilities. The missionary of the future has certainly to be prepared to meet a more complex situation than his predecessors faced.

What tki the Missionary Societies themselves? Will they become superfluous in the new missionary orientated Church? I think the answer is that their role will be understood in a different light. They will he seen as the Church's "Missionary arm", agents of the Church rather than as private groups somehow separate from the main stream of diocesan life, as they have often been regarded in the past.

This closer integration of Missionary Societies into the home Church will be helped when, as the Mission Decree advises, the Congregation of Propaganda Fide is reorganised to give Diocesan Bishops an active part in its deliberations.

FOR US ALI„ one thing is clear: The small band of missionaries must not be left to struggle on as it has been in the past, supported only by the generosity of the faithful few. "The whole Church is missionary" is the Council's call to action and it is in the application of this principle to every Catholic group that hope lies for the future.

Cardinal Heenan's dramatic Lenten Pastoral calling on the clergy and laity in his Diocese to offer themselves for work in the missions is a fearless and admirable application of the basic ideas of Vatican IL Here is perhaps, an indication of the pattern of the future. A regular supply of zealous priests on temporary loan from dioceses in Europe and America; a regular supply of qualified laymen and women; the backing of solid financial support from more wealthy countries. All this in close co-operation with the missionary institutes who will continue to provide the missionary dioceses with the guaranteed basic support on which they rely.

PUT ALI, this in the context of co-ordinated regional and national plans—for example, like the pastoral plan of the Chilean hierarchy—and we begin to see the outline of a missionary programme For the post-conciliar age.

When the People of God this means each of us— mobilise their full spiritual and material resources. their energy, personnel and finanices for the fulfilment of Christ's mission to the world, we may expect another Second Spring, not only in the mission world, but in the old Christian world too; for we will have found, once again, the well springs of life.

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