MISSION PROMOTION FOR THE LOCAL CHURCH
When we speak of mission promotion some listeners may be tempted to see the title as a simple business advertisement. Instead, mission promotion touches sensitive issues of any society and those are religion, internal matters of the church, church administration, the community of believers, the social economic and cultural matters of the people, issues connected with justice and peace and , of course, the reality of the gospel among the people.
This makes mission promotion an instrument of revolution in society. What is unfortunate is that the church had lost sight of mission promotion. The situation the Catholic Church in Ethiopia is finding herself in makes mission promotion to be indispensable and urgent. Lack of it will and is affecting Christians, dioceses parishes, congregations and pious associations. There is a kind of crisis looming around and this calls all Catholics to review the plan and methodology of activities.
The aims of our Mission Animation
The Comboni Missionaries have served in different places, for many decades in Ethiopia, starting from the missions in Gondar and later on in the Sidamo Province, where some of our missionaries have given their life for the work of evangelisation. Therefore, it is our duty today to animate the Local Church to become a Missionary Church. Missionaries continue to come to Ethiopia from Europe, America (North and South), Asia and other African countries. This variety of cultures brings a lot of richness to the Ethiopian Catholic Church.
We are strongly convinced that Mission Animation will make our Catholics more open to the needs of the universal mission of the Church.
We do mission animation work in order to promote missionary vocations for the Religious life and priesthood in the local Church. A Christian community which is sufficiently animated through mission animation activities can be ready to form and send its members to collaborate in the universal missionary activity of the Church. Indeed today, we can affirm that many of the vocations in our Institute are fruit of our Mission Animation..
What mission promotion is concerned with?For some Christians, Jesus Christ and his message have become optional material mission promotion instead presents Jesus Christ the only savior. This savior promises the priority which is the kingdom of God. This kingdom is not a dream but some reality very close at hand. Mission promotion also insists on explaining the power of the Holy Spirit because He is the principal agent of mission and its evangelization character. This mission is so vast thus it needs combined support in form of personnel, prayer and solidarity. Mission promotion also presents clear paths for mission to succeed and those paths or ways are:
Witnessing as way of sharing and demonstrating one’s beliefs and convictions witnessing is very powerful because it does not offend, threaten nor disturb anybody.
Proclamation of the good news with an inculturated methodology. If we are speaking of mission promotion in Africa, it means that this proclamation should not be conditioned by the missionary’s place of origin and mentality such as European or American.
Conversion to Jesus Christ can never be optional. In other words, evangelization must become a priority. We should not be contented with working for justice, freedom, peace and solidarity. Seek first the kingdom of heaven and all the rest will follow in line. Give God his due and God will give back to you.
Baptism with water and Holy Spirit has to be-emphasised. It is the mandate of being reborn again. Elimination of baptism means the abandoning of catechism thus killing the church.(see jn.3:5-7).
In his time, Jesus did all these and basing on the gospel, we could say that this was his mission promotion methodology. Jesus and taught prayer. He got a good number of candidates (seeLK8:1-3). He had material support and financial assistance in all these communities. Judas is known for his bursar (see Mk 14:3-11). Jesus did not only do the necessary for his disciples but left them skills for continuity.
The best method of mission left by Jesus in person was of self-support, self-propagating and self-ministering. This is what we have in the course of history. The missionaries who brought the Gospel to Africa could be accused of paternalism but the fact is that they never intended to betray the Gospel.
HOW TO ORGANISE MISSION PROMOTION IN A PARISH
Prayer groupsEvery community can have an interested group which prays for successes of missionary activities in the world. There are still so many people who have not heard about Jesus Christ.
Vocation groups There can be a small group set aside to promote religious and missionary vocations from the local environment. If the majority of these groups are youth, then the objective can be achieved in a short period.
Funds and material support For the church to operate, it needs also some long-term financial and material support. The church in Africa has been surviving on donations. It is now the right time to look after own needs. A begging church cannot survive the third millennium. Mission appeals are also possible in Africa.
On-Going formationMost Catholics still think that some people can be missionaries and others can only receive. On-going formation in form of videos, literatures, seminars and workshops will help to perceive the reality of the mission.
METHODOLOGY IN ETHIOPIA
Mission Promotion is an ever-present feature of our apostolic Service and an integral part of our life as Comboni Missionaries wherever we are. (C.A.97, No 95)
For us, Comboni Missionaries, the aim of our mission promotion activity is to make the whole Christian Community aware of their inner responsibility in the missionary activity of the universal Church by virtue of their baptism.
Our Mission promotion activity, in the context of the Ethiopian Catholic Church needs to find the right and proper methodology adequate to the present local situations.
Our missionary animation is directed to Parishes, Christian Associations, Schools and Youth groups in any possible way, inviting them to share with others the gift of faith that they received (Et. Provincial Directory 2002, 51.3)
COLLABORATION IN MISSION ANIMATION
We see the need of coordinating our missionary activities with Church’s local structures already present in the country in order to present and insert in their programs.
National Pastoral Office.
Pontifical Missionary Society.
Diocesan, or Vicariate Pastoral Offices.
Parish Youth Offices
Catechists Training Centres.
Young Catholic Workers Movements.
Our Founder involved the laity in his missionary work. We share our charisma and spirituality with a group of lay people following the example of our founder. This group of lay people called “Comboni Friends” support us and collaborates in our Mission Animation activities mainly in Addis Ababa area the southern part of Ethiopia.
INSTRUMENTS FOR MISSION ANIMATION
In the history of the Church as it has happened throughout the centuries starting with Mary, the Apostles and the Saints have animated the people of god with their life witness. Hence we as basic means of Mission Animation priorities the life witness and the personal encounter of missionaries with the people. The material instruments to be used in our activities are:
The Holy Bible; the documents of Magisterium, Pastoral L Letters, Comboni Scripts; official Church documents on mission ad gentes; Printed materials, such as new People magazine, leaflets; audio-visual tools.
PLAN OF ACTION FOR OUR MISSION ANIMATION ACTIVITIES
To hold different Mission Animation programs during the year on the nature of Mission.
- The Missionary Month of October
- The Liturgical Seasons of Advent and Lent
- The eve of the celebration of Pentecost
- Priestly Ordinations and Religious Profession
-To organize once a year a retreat directed to those who are interested in the Spirituality of the Mission.
-The distribution of missionary printed materials like the New People magazine
Mission promotion is new for most of the African Christians yet it is the core of the spreading of Christianity. It is up to all the baptized to make what is old to become new. Mission promotion is not a theory, it is a reality therefore it provokes concrete action. If we are interested in the kingdom of God then it is our duty to get involved in this programme so that inculturation may be near us than before mission promotion is our struggle towards self-propagating, self-ministering and self-supporting. The church in Africa is a missionary church and a mission church; that is why missionary training for all the baptized has to have a special place. It is the task of the local church, assisted by missionaries and their institutes and by the personnel from the young churches. Mission promotion must be seen not as peripheral but as central to the Christian life.
God is Calling You!
God enters our lives as we are, where we are, doing what we do, and invites us to "more"! God invites all people to love and serve as Jesus did in whatever vocation or life path they follow. You may be called to love and serve others as a married person, as a single person, or as one committed to vowed community life. We invite you to explore your heart--to identify your needs, your hopes, your dreams--and to get to know our community that you might discern whether you, too, are called to embrace the Comboni vision of Gospel living.