Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Forming Young People to be Missionaries

I would ask your prayers please for a new project here at the Vocations Centre. Next year we will have eight young men living here forming our Vocations Mission Team. They will receive formation in the faith, in the spiritual life and in community living. What will set them apart from other similar projects, however, is that they will also go out to evangelise in schools, parishes, universities and on the streets. Pope Francis says it is not enough to open the door in welcome we have to go out through that door in order to take Christ to others. The plan is for the experience of a year with our Mission Team to ensure that evangelisation becomes part of the DNA of our future priests.

Here are the words of Pope Francis to bishops at World Youth Day in Rio. You'll see they match perfectly our project:

Young people want Confession!

Called to proclaim the Gospel – Dear Bishops and priests, many of you, if not all, have accompanied your young people to World Youth Day. They too have heard the mandate of Jesus: “Go and make disciples of all nations” (cf. Mt 28:19). It is our responsibility to help kindle within their hearts the desire to be missionary disciples of Jesus. Certainly, this invitation could cause many to feel somewhat afraid, thinking that to be missionaries requires leaving their own homes and countries, family and friends. God asks us to be missionaries wherewe are, where He puts us! Let us help our young people to realize that the call to be missionary disciples flows from our baptism and is an essential part of what it means to be a Christian. We must also help them to realize that we are called first to evangelize in our own homes and our places of study and work, to evangelize our family and friends. Let us help our young people, let us open our ears to their questions, they need to be listened to when in difficulty; of course patience is needed to listen, in confession and in spiritual direction. We need to know how best to spend time with them. 

Let us spare no effort in the formation of our young people! Saint Paul uses a beautiful expression that he embodied in his own life, when he addressed the Christian community: “My little children, with whom I am again in travail until Christ be formed in you” (Gal 4:19). Let us embody this also in our own ministry! Let us help our young people to discover the courage and joy of faith, the joy of being loved personally by God, who gave his Son Jesus for our salvation. Let us form them in mission, in going out and going forth. Jesus did this with his own disciples: he did not keep them under his wing like a hen with her chicks. He sent them out! We cannot keep ourselves shut up in parishes, in our communities, when so many people are waiting for the Gospel! It is not enough simply to open the door in welcome, but we must go out through that door to seek and meet the people! Let us courageously look to pastoral needs, beginning on the outskirts, with those who are farthest away, with those who do not usually go to church. They are the V.I.P.s invited to the table of the Lord... go and look for them in the nooks and crannies of the streets. 


wife and mother said...

Will keep the work of the centre and these fantastic Young men in our prayers father, pray that they reach the corners of the diocese in our schools and parishes.

Fr Stephen said...

Many thanks "Wife and mother" - we rely on your prayers and those of so many other people in the diocese and beyond. Without prayer all our labours would be in vain so please keep it up! Twice a month we offer Mass for all our benefactors which includes, of course, all those praying for our work.
Fr Stephen