On the occasion of Mission Sunday in the US some may find it helpful to review a lengthy study “FORMATION FOR THE MISSION: From the Perspective of our Vincentian Charism” by Fr, Manny Ginete, CM, former Liaison of the Superior General to the Vincentian Family. Although written from the perspective of the Congregation of the Mission much of what he says applies to other groups within the Vincentian Family.
Many in the Congregation feel that the highest accolade one can receive is to be called a “missionary”. Many would want it as epitaph in their tomb – “missionary” or “priest of the mission”. I know this was what the first Filipino Visitor, the late Fr. Benjamin Ortazón, wanted for himself. Well, he fully deserved the name and honor, having lived and died in Japan as a missionary for more than 20 years.
But what really does the word “missionary” mean? Who deserves to be called such? Only those who have worked abroad in foreign mission? Or those who have worked in popular missions? How about those of us who spent practically all our life in the ministry of forming our own members or those of the diocesan clergy? Don’t we deserve also such a title? Likewise, those who have worked in universities and schools, or even in rich parishes – are they also “missionaries”?
I am sure you will agree with me that all this is no mere romanticism. It has direct connection with our own identity and its relationship to our ministry. The name “missionary” carries a load of meaning that had people in the past and even today making distinction, impliedly or explicitly, between the “real” members and the “also” members.
In the topic assigned to me, “Formation for the Mission from the Perspective of our Vincentian Charism,” the word “Mission,” and hence the derivatives “missionary” or “priest/brother of the Mission,” is extremely significant. But since you are all formators, we may very well assume that you know what this word means. In fact, I am sure, you have spent much time teaching its meaning to our candidates in the internal seminary or in the major seminary. Hence, perhaps there is no more need to expound on it. But, I would suppose that a review of some important points would not necessarily be useless as we all try to improve on our own contribution to formation work. More importantly, a clear understanding of our “Mission” may just make us rethink our priorities and re-align our formation strategies the better to make them more responsive to the needs of the young (or old) people who are aiming to join the “Congregation of the Mission”. For this reason, I accepted the invitation to give a conference on this topic. I will proceed following this outline:
1. Mission in Asia-Pacific: Present Situation
2. Mission in Vincentian Tradition
3. Mission: New Challenges and their Implications on Formation
See especially his section …
“Evangelizing the poor”
Just as Christ was responding to the needs of the poor during his time, and St. Vincent himself to those in seventeenth-century Europe and abroad, so also we need to respond to the cries of the poor in our own times. The General Assemblies of recent memory have tried precisely to bring this to the fore and have discussed the “new forms of poverty” that have surfaced today. Among the “new poor” are the unemployed, immigrants, refugees, displaced persons, etc. Poverty today is caused by many factors: unjust structures (even religious ones), abrupt socio-economic changes, neo-conservative economic policies, imbalance of trade, as well as wars, tribal conflicts, cultural prejudices, and political policies in favor of wealthier nations, etc. Yet, at the same time, some positive things have emerged. A “culture” of solidarity is evident among people of different religious persuasion, and even among those not completely aligned with religious causes. The elimination of poverty has been championed by entertainers like Bono, mega-billionaires like Bill and Melinda Gates, and even by political figures like Tony Blair and Gordon Brown of Great Britain, as well as the United Nations, and of course, our own Vincentian Family worldwide. It seems that the more global poverty becomes, the more global too is the response to eradicate it.
What implications would this new world-order of poverty have on the formation of our candidates and confreres?”
4. Worldwide CM Mission and Asia-Pacific
[Paper presented in Mysore, February 2006]