Sydney (Agenzia Fides) - "The Church is called to heed to Pope Francis' appeal to respond and use its resources and networks, reflecting on the economic and social consequences of the pandemic. The Church can offer itself as a safe point of reference for the world, which is lost in the face of an unexpected event. As Catholic Mission, we launched the #WeAreStillHere campaign to support the PMS Covid-19 fund". This was stated by Fr. Brian Lucas, National Director of "Catholic Mission", Australian office of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) in Australia, in an interview with Agenzia Fides, reflecting on the repercussions of the pandemic on the life of the Church in the New continent and on the response that was launched through the Covid-19 PMS Emergency Fund, wanted by the Pope.
How does this time of pandemic question the mission of the Church in your Country?
The Church has been called through the necessity of the pandemic to refocus its priorities, to collaborate more broadly with other Church and secular organisations, to express love and concern for the entire human family within the local and global context. The direct effect on wealthier countries affected by the pandemic has brought light to the significant challenges faced by those in missionary contexts. This has provided an opportunity for dialogue and collaboration more broadly than ever before.
Locally in Australia, this has highlighted the urgent need for the Church to respond to the most vulnerable in the community by lobbying governments and local authorities, to enable the voices of the most vulnerable to be heard. Australian Catholics spontaneously made some offerings to support overseas missions affected by Covid-19.
How is the special PMS Emergency Fund for coronavirus victims working in your country?
What kind of initiatives were started with that Fund?
PMS Australia is particularly involved in facilitating innovative responses locally and globally to be truly missionary in our response to the unprecedented pandemic by:
• Drawing the Australian people into the international story of Covid-19 as experienced by the global missionary church through our #WeAreStillHere campaign to support the Covid-19 fund.
• Engaging Australian Catholic school parents at home with their children, in a journey of mission with a special focus on Covid-19, in the lead-up to World Mission Month through an innovative on-line engagement to build missionary communities of prayer, advocacy and fundraising.
• Reaching out to our mission partners across the world to identify real needs and assist the local Churches in the development of effective and adequate responses.
• Sharing intellectual resources across key local and global church agencies and congregations such as Caritas Internationalis, Jesuits, Divine Word
Missionaries and Marist International to allow information to flow between the agencies for greatest impact across all networks.
• Catholic Mission has forwarded US$25,000 to the emergency fund from the spontaneous gifts of the faithful.
• Catholic Mission has re-ordered its appeal to donors to reflect the needs of the mission territories.
Can you tell an experience characterized by an authentic outbursts of charity in your country, as a relationship between charity and evangelization?
The role of evangelization at this time is to heed the Pope’s call "to express the Church’s concern and love for the entire human family in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic". Australia’s response has been to tell the story of the global mission partners via the #WeAreStillHere campaign including missionaries such as Sister Stan in Ghana who has shared her own struggles for food and resources to support the Nazareth Home for God’s Children.
The Australian people have responded in faith and generosity resulting in surprisingly substantial financial support for the special Covid-19 fund. Regular supporters of the work of PMS Australia have been contacted personally and their prayerful response has demonstrated a great missionary zeal which has provided encouragement and solidarity with the poorest and most affected communities in these uncertain times. (SL-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 11/5/2020)