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Pointing at the bulletin letter's date (link) at left will display it's title.
August 5, 2007
Missionary Life in A Changing World

    For the past couple centuries, the view of Missionary Life in the Catholic Church has consisted of priests and nuns, (mostly dressed in their white habits)  who have left their
comfortable homes in first world countries to serve the spiritual and physical needs of the people in the third world.  This view followed on the heels of several centuries of priests who would travel to distant lands, mainly in Africa and Asia and finally the Americas, in order to convert the thousands of people who did not know or believe in Jesus Christ.

    Today, our world has changed drastically and so has the Church’s missionary.  This does not mean that the Church no longer cares about the missions or no longer wishes to bother with this type of ministry.  On the contrary, the Church is constantly educating itself on the situation of the world’s needs and continuously seeks to enrich itself with new views and methods of service.

    The Church is so intent on this ministry that it has developed an entire field of study dedicated to the missions.  If one feels so called, he/she may pursue a degree in the field of
Missiology.  This is the area of practical theology which studies the mandate, message and work of the missionary.  Missiology is a multi-disciplinary and cross-cultural reflection on all aspects of the propagation of the Catholic faith, embracing theology, anthropology, history, geography, theories and methods of communication, comparative religion, Christian apologetics, methodology, and inter-denominational relations.

    Why does the Church go to such lengths for the missions?  Simply put, the church has a mission to “preach” the Gospel to all peoples.  This can be done by preaching but it can also be done by our presence among others.  Kindness, compassion, dedication to the physical needs of hunger and sickness and /or the educational needs of people all speak loudly of the message of the Gospel.  The message of Justice and Equality are high on the priority list of missionaries.

     Over the centuries we have learned, very often by the school of hard knocks, that missionary work is sensitive, delicate work   It usually involves people of various cultures.  This means that people not only look different from us, they also have a different way of acting and thinking.  Their culture is just as valid and valuable as our own.  We must respect the world of other people.  In order to do this we must educate ourselves. 

    In short, missionary work is continuously evolving.  One area that is fast evolving is that lay missionaries are becoming more and more numerous.  With the shortage of priests and nuns in the church, the laity has come forward to fill the ranks.  There are several fields of missionary work where the laity can successfully serve especially in the medical and educational areas. 

    Leaving one’s home to live in a strange land is always a challenge if not difficult, and all missionaries need our prayers as well as our financial support.  Take some time to pray this week on what you can do for the Church’s mission of “preaching” the Gospel to all peoples.

                            Lorette P. Nault