Lyon (Agenzia Fides) - "I will speak in Italian, the language of Blessed Paolo Manna, founder of the Pontifical Missionary Union (PMU)!": This is how Father Dinh Anh Nhue Nguyen, Secretary General of the PMU began his speech yesterday afternoon at the General Assembly being held in Lyon (see Fides, 13/5/2022). In his first words of thanks to the Cardinal Prefect, the Archbishop President, his fellow Secretaries General, the Head of Administration and his collaborators, Father Nguyen also addressed a heartfelt thanks to his predecessor Father Meroni, initiator of the tradition of the Annual Book. His speech continued according to three directives: the reminder of the statutes of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) on the activities of the PMS; the activities of formation and missionary animation 2021-2022; continuation of the journey. Regarding the specific activities of the PMU, Father Nguyen explained: " "As one of the four Pontifical Mission Societies, the PMU stands alongside the other three - the Propagation of the Faith, the Holy Childhood and the Apostle Saint Peter - and walks with them in the promotion and missionary animation throughout the world". For this reason, “the Union is addressed to all those who are called to work to ensure that the people of God are animated with a missionary spirit and a special awareness of missionary cooperation”. The Secretary General of the Pontifical Mission Societies pointed out the frequency of the adjective “all " in the text of the Statutes and the wide range of recipients of the initiatives: priests, religious and lay people, recalling the motto "All Churches for the whole world" from the writings of the Founder, Blessed Father Paulo Manna. Referring to the purpose of the Pontifical Missionary Union stated in the statutes, Father Nguyen emphasized: "We are the "union" of all local forces at the service of the common mission of evangelization of the Church and we focus on the activities of formation, information and promotion of the missionary Awareness through various initiatives...at local, regional or international level. All this always happens in a spirit of collaboration with everyone, especially with the national directors of the Pontifical Mission Societies and with the secretaries of the other three Societies, in a simple, fraternal and also synodal style. Let us form a "Union" starting with ourselves, always trying to be true to our vocation to be "the soul of the other Pontifical Mission Societies", as Pope Saint Paul VI called us". In this context, Father Nguyen thanked the national directors and the delegates in the diocesan leaders for their constant commitment to missionary formation in the different countries and confirmed the availability of the international secretariat of the Pontifical Missionary Union.
Regarding the 2021-2022 missionary animation and formation activities, Father Dinh Anh Nhue Nguyen, referring to the Book 2021-2022 [of the PMU] which was given in digital format to the participants, recalled that from January 1, 2021 to May 11, 2022, PMU supported 12 projects in Africa, 3 projects in Asia and 2 projects at PUSC (Pontifical University of the Holy Cross) in Rome. These projects are complemented by other missionary animation and formation activities, notably the Rosary for Peace in Myanmar and, for Central Asia, the webinar "The mission of evangelization in Central Asia at the time of Evangelii Gaudium". Context, difficulties, perspectives", as well as evenings of prayer and missionary reflection on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the birth of Blessed Paolo Manna. "As you can guess, we try to give even greater attention to the spiritual dimension in missionary animation and formation, in which individual and community prayer is fundamental", underlined the Secretary General, who then recalled some recent publications including From Maximum Illud to Evangelii Gaudium. On the Missionary Transformation of the Church, Foreword by Card. Luis Antonio G. Tagle, quoted by the President Msgr. Dal Toso during his speech. This text, "a very important tool, I would even say a classic, for missionary formation in the world, especially in the English-speaking world", was offered by Father Nguyen to the participants.
Recalling the more than twenty activities in progress and others pending, the Secretary General dwelt on "three activities which seem fundamental to us to relaunch the discourse on mission and missionary animation-training within the PMS". The first is the preparation of the volumes "Biblical texts of the mission": "As you can guess, this is a long-term work which begins with "The Gospels" and on which we are currently concentrating. We ask humbly your prayers for this. To this preparation is added the publication of the volume on the mission in the Eastern perspective, which will be a multilingual edition". The second activity concerns the biblical-missionary commentary of each Sunday: "The desire is to start from the Word of God to form and raise awareness of the mission. The purpose of this Sunday meeting that we begin with Advent is to offer a useful tool for ongoing formation and missionary animation. I spoke about it at the last PMS General Assembly. It is a course designed and created especially for National Directors of the PMS and their collaborators, to whom the texts of the commentary are sent each week in different languages, for their use, but which we share on the PMS website so that all the faithful can have access to them to reflect on the Word of God and deepen their vocation as missionary disciples of Christ". Father Nguyen then wished to thank all the translators and correctors of the texts, including certain national directors, "who generously offer their service for missionary animation", and "all the directors for the benevolent reception of these comments as well as for the wise use of the material received received" in their missionary animation and their formation in their respective countries. Finally, the international convention project "Announcement and Christian formation in an entirely missionary Church": "This is the the Conference on catechists in collaboration with the Pontifical Urbaniana University, already planned for this year but then postponed because of certain changes in the Higher Institute of Catechesis and Missionary Spirituality. This conference serves to relaunch the animation and formation of catechists. We then intend, in the near future, to plan and implement a course of ongoing missionary formation for local catechists, and this in close collaboration with POPF, which we thank for its constant support. To this dream, I will eventually add another, that of organizing with the directors/national directors various missionary congresses where we can and where there is a need". Before concluding, the Secretary General recalled Agenzia Fides, which recently produced the short film on Pauline Jaricot, entitled "Look from above", and the role of CIAM in missionary animation, a role that it resumes today after the pandemic: "I invite you all to bring your groups to CIAM for a period of missionary pilgrimage-retreat in Rome. We will also try to organize the various missionary Triduums to revive the missionary spirit among the faithful from the celebration and reflection on the Passion and Resurrection of Christ", said the Secretary General, addressing those present. Father Nguyen, looking to the journey ahead, concluded with a wish: "I fully share the Pope's dream in his message for this year's World Mission Day, that all the people of God be prophets, witnesses, missionaries of the Lord. I fully share your dreams, that our beloved Pontifical Mission Societies may be ever more faithful to the charism of their founders, ever more charismatic, as expressed by Msgr. Jorge Patricio Vega Velasco, National Director of the PMS of Chile, during the Mass this morning. Together with you we, try to do our best to make these dreams come true". (E.G.) (Agenzia Fides, 21/5/2022)