Lyon (Agenzia Fides) - "The beatification of Pauline Marie Jaricot is a confirmation of the importance of the charism of the Pontifical Society for the Propagation of the Faith for the Church and underscores the unique nature of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS). Indeed, the Pontifical Mission Societies are not funding agencies or a NGO, but a world-wide network present in every local Church for the purpose of strengthening and invigorating a missionary spirit in the hearts of all of the baptized, inviting them to provide spiritual and material support for local Churches in mission lands. In this year of Jubilee it is vital that we remember and honor what Pauline has provided for the Church in mission": said Father Tadeus Jan Nowak OMI, Secretary General of the Pontifical Society for the Preparation of the Faith (POPF), on presenting to the General Assembly of the Pontifical Mission Societies, currently being held in Lyon, the activity of POPF, founded by Pauline Jaricot, beatified on May 22 in Lyon.
Father Nowak remarked: "This year the theme for World Mission Day is “you shall be my witness”. Pope Francis, reflecting on this theme in his message for World Mission Day 2022 affirms that in the task of evangelization, the example of a Christian life and the proclamation of Christ are inseparable. One is at the service of the other. They are the two lungs with which any community must breathe, if it is to be missionary. This kind of complete, consistent and joyful witness to Christ will surely be a force of attraction also for the growth of the Church in the third millennium". The Secretary therefore exhorted everyone "to take up once again the courage, frankness and parrhesía of the first Christians, in order to bear witness to Christ in word and deed in every area of life. The Holy Father invites all of the baptized to engage in mission. But his words are especially addressed to all of us, who have been appointed servant leaders of the Pontifical Mission Societies throughout the world", he recalled.
Speaking of the present context, "we are called to provide our service to the Holy Father in a very challenging time", observed Father Nowak. "The pandemic is by no means over and continues to have a significant effect on the life of the Church throughout the world. At the same time - he continued - many peoples are faced with war and violence that have had devastating effects on the life of families and individuals, as well as Church communities in Ukraine, Myanmar and Ethiopia, just to name a few. It is a testimony to Pauline’s vibrant and living spirit present in the PMS that has allowed us to continue our mission, even in these difficult and trying moment in history".
In this context "as an instrument of service, the role of the International Secretariat of the Pontifical Mission Society for the Propagation of the Faith (POPF) is to coordinate the efforts of the Society in its mission of promoting evangelization and of helping to sustain local Churches in mission territories. This includes encouraging National Directors to remind all concerned that the Pontifical Mission Societies are part of the fabric of every local Church and not an extraneous element".
At a time of difficulty also marked by the pandemic and related restrictions, including the closure of churches or limitations in pastoral activities, "the universal collection on the occasion of World Mission Sunday has registered a very modest increase", the Secretary General reported.
But the crisis is also an opportunity: "This crisis - he noted - has made it very clear that our efforts in realizing our charism need constant renewal, audacity and perseverance. We can no longer look only to the World Mission Sunday collection for the support of the missions. We need to look at new and old ways of animating a missionary spirit and inviting support for the missions. This must begin by finding new ways of inviting the baptized to pray and reflect on the missionary needs of the Church. This must involve the social mediums, but also traditional forms of preaching in parishes, forming circles of prayer, reflection and charity, as did our foundress". Therefore, the National and Diocesan Directors of the PMS are called to "go out and work throughout the year – day by day – to promote prayer, reflection and charity for the mission at every level: family, parish, diocese and nation" . Father Nowak greatly appreciated every effort made by the National Directors "in meeting personally with Bishop Ordinaries, Parish priests, individuals and groups of people of good will regarding the need to support the missions. We need to engage everyone in this fundamental task of the Church", given that "the possibilities of animation of the mission are boundless", he remarked. "I would like to express my profound thanks to all of the National Directors and their collaborators for the efforts in missionary animation and ensuring a form of collection for the missions in their countries. Let us go forward with courage, creativity and hope", concluded Father Nowak. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 23/5/2022)