Pope Francis greets Fr Anthony Chantry (National Director of Missio England & Wales) 2024

Each year all the Missio National Directors in the world gather together in Rome for an Assembly where they pray together for God’s mission in the world, share their joys and challenges, decide on how funds will be distributed in the most equitable way as well as make plans for the future.

The high point of the Assembly is always our meeting with the Holy Father. This year was no exception.

When I last saw Pope Francis in Rome, earlier this year, he was confined to a wheelchair and obviously in some pain. Last week he entered the room just using a walking stick. He spoke to us with his usual passion for mission and smiled his way through his challenging address.

It is clear that though Pope Francis has some medical issues, his enthusiasm, strength of commitment and his amazing sense of humour are undiminished.

In his talk, he underscored the three words that he says are vital for our common mission to be successful: communion, creativity, and tenacity.

The call to communion with each other and God involves ‘walking together, listening to each other and engaging in dialogue,’ which he says, ‘expands our hearts’.

This reminds me of those many places where the Church plays a vital role in bringing people together. In Anglophone Cameroon, for instance, the Church sits between to warring factions: the military and those seeking independence. The Church is often blamed by both sides of this violent conflict of being on the opposite side. The Church strives to bring people together, being itself a sign of communion. This comes with the cost of lives and livelihoods.

Please pray for peace with justice in Cameroon.

Creativity must be at the heart of our missionary endeavours.  We must find new methods of bringing the Gospel to those in need, especially the poorest of the poor. We also need to explore new ways of encouraging prayer and financial support of these endeavours.

The Church in Mongolia is 30 years old, making it the youngest in the world. The population is about three million and the Church is only a tiny fraction of this. Missionaries are called to find ways to serve the people and especially those in need. The Missionaries of Charity, whom I met in 2018, invite homeless older people to live in their home that cares for the elderly.

Living in poverty themselves, the Sisters, when asked by local people why they are there, respond by saying that Jesus has sent them to do this work. This leads to a conversation about Jesus and his vision for a humanity bathed in God’s love.

Please pray for the spread of the Gospel in Mongolia.

Tenacity is key to all missionary work. In Pope Francis’ words, ‘mission is a tireless going out to all men and women, in order to invite them to encounter God and enter into communion with Him’.

The Church in Lebanon has seen many decades of civil conflicts, foreign occupations, and hardships of all kinds in their beautiful country.  ‘We proclaim the Gospel in word and deed by serving the people of Lebanon’, Church leaders told me. ‘We are here to stay in order to keep hope alive’. This is a Church that will persevere to the end, in holding onto their faith.

Please pray for peace in Lebanon.

These are the thoughts and prayers that the Holy Father’s words inspired in me. Our work, together as Missio, is to strive to bring God’s love to people and people to God and to ask the Spirit to recreate in us new ways of being missionary. We will never give up! With God on our side who can be against us?

I told the Holy Father personally that you sent him your love and promise of prayers. He smiled appreciatively and asked us to thank all our co-workers – that’s you – for, in his words, ‘their generosity and dedication in promoting the missionary responsibility of the faithful’. I could not have put it better myself!

He concluded, ‘I impart to you all my heartfelt blessing. Please do not forget to pray for me. Thank you.’

Image: © Vatican Media

Links and stories from this month’s eNews

The Summer edition of Mission Today is out now! You can find the online version here>>

This week we have been celebrating the amazing work of our parish and school volunteers. Read some of their stories here>>

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