Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - We publish below the Message that the Holy Father Francis has sent to the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) on the occasion of the opening of the General Assembly which is taking place in Lyon, at the Valpré Center, from May 16 to 23, 2022.
Dear brothers and sisters!
In this special year you have gathered in Lyon, the city where the Pontifical Missionary Societies originated and where the beatification of Pauline Jaricot, the foundress of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, will be celebrated. It is the bicentenary, as well as the centenary of its elevation, together with the Society of the Holy Childhood and the Society of St. Peter the Apostle, to the rank of "Pontifical". They were later joined, always recognized by Pius XII, by the Pontifical Missionary Union, which celebrates the 150th anniversary of the birth of its founder, Blessed Paolo Manna.
These anniversaries are part of the celebration for the 400th anniversary of the Congregation De Propaganda Fide, to which the Missionary Works are closely linked and with which they collaborate in supporting the Churches in the territories entrusted to the Dicastery. It was established to support and coordinate the spread of the Gospel in hitherto unknown lands, but the evangelizing thrust has never waned in the Church and always remains its fundamental dynamism. Therefore, it is my wish that within the renewed Roman Curia, the Dicastery for Evangelization takes on a special role in order to foster the missionary conversion of the Church (Praedicate Evangelium, 2-3), which is not proselytism, but witness: going out of oneself to proclaim with one's life the gratuitous and saving love of God for us, who are all called to be brothers and sisters.
You have therefore arranged to meet in Lyon because it is where, 200 years ago, a young woman aged just 23 - Pauline Marie Jaricot - had the courage to found an association to support the missionary activity of the Church; a few years later she started the "Living Rosary" which is devoted to prayer and the sharing of offerings. Pauline came from a wealthy family, but died in poverty: with her beatification, the Church attests that she knew how to store up treasures in Heaven (Mt 6:19), treasures that are born from the courage of giving and reveal the secret of life: only by giving is it possessed, only by losing it is it found (Mk 8:35).
Pauline Jaricot liked to say that the Church is missionary by nature (Ad gentes, 2) and that therefore every baptized person has a mission, indeed, is a mission. Helping to live this awareness is the first service of the Pontifical Mission Societies, a service the Pontifical Mission Societies perform with the Pope and in the name of the Pope. This link between the PMS and the Petrine ministry, established a hundred years ago, translates into concrete service to the bishops, to the Churches, to the whole People of God. At the same time, it is your task, according to the Council (cf. Ad gentes, 38), to help the bishops open each particular Church to the horizons of the universal Church.
The jubilees you celebrate and the beatification of Pauline Jaricot offer me the opportunity to re-propose three aspects that, thanks to the action of the Holy Spirit, have contributed so much to the spread of the Gospel in the history of the PMS.
First of all, missionary conversion: The goodness of mission depends on the journey of going out of oneself, on the desire not to center one's life on oneself, but on Jesus, on Jesus who came to serve and not to be served (cf. Mk 10:45 ).
In this sense Pauline Jaricot saw her existence as a response to God's compassionate and tender mercy: since her youth she sought identification with her Lord, also through the sufferings she went through, in order to ignite the flame of his love in every man. Here lies the source of the mission, in the ardor of a faith that is not satisfied and that, through conversion, imitates day by day in order to canne God's mercy on the streets of the world.
But this is possible - second aspect - Only through prayer, which is the first form of mission (cf. Message to the Pontifical Mission Societies, 20 May 2020). It is no coincidence that Pauline placed the Society of Propagation of the Faith alongside the Living Rosary, as if to reaffirm that mission begins with prayer and cannot be achieved without it (cf. Acts 13: 1-3). Yes, because it is the Spirit of the Lord who precedes and enables all our good works: the primacy is always of his grace. Finally, the concreteness of charity: Along with a network of prayer, he said, “Pauline initiated a collection of offerings on a large scale and in a creative form, accompanying it with information about the missionaries’ lives and activities. The offerings of so many simple people were providential for the history of the missions
Dear brothers and sisters who are part of the General Assembly of the PMS, I hope that you walk the path traced by this great missionary woman, allowing yourself to be inspired by her concrete faith, her audacious courage, her generous creativity. Through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, Star of Evangelization, I invoke the blessing of the Lord upon each one of you and I ask you, please, to pray for me.
Rome, Saint John Lateran,
May 12, 2022
(Agenzia Fides, 17/5/2022)