YOUNG MEMBERS MEETING HELD FROM 5TH-7TH IN MALINDI DIOCESE
Day One: 5th October 2021; Recollection: The Eucharist
The meeting begun by a recollection facilitated by Fr. Muli Ambrose of the Catholic Diocese of Malindi. Father Ambrose Muli guided the members to reflect on the centrality of the Eucharist in the life of the priest. He underscored the fact that the Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life. Thus, the members were exhorted to celebrate the Eucharist with joy, devotion, and zeal since our fruitfulness in mission depends on our rooted in the Eucharistic Lord. He further warned the members about the danger of taking the Eucharistic celebration as a mere routine/empty ritual. He encouraged the young members to always set aside time daily to be in the presence of the Eucharistic Lord. Thus, he emphasized that by making Christ the priority in the life of the priest makes him a true pastor and not merely a social worker.
Sharing of Experiences of Mission by Members
In sharing of experiences of mission, members felt happy with their work in different missions. They appreciated support they receive. They highlighted some aspects such as commitment, availability, apostolic zeal and determination as key elements of missionary work. It was also clear that in order to serve the people to whom they are sent to, the members need to discern well and respond accordingly. The members further stressed the importance of building and strengthening the small Christian communities since these communities serve as the firm foundation of the church and are basic centres for missionary outreach. The members are enthused by the apostolic zeal of the senior members which challenges them to carry on the mission with zeal and dedication.
Furthermore, the young members stressed that learning the local languages of the people is an entry point for immersion into mission. Thus, the members encouraged themselves to give their best in learning the local languages. They also stressed the need to balance between pastoral ministry and rest so as to avoid burnouts in mission.
However, the young members underscored the need to build missionary teams in which the members are true companions to one another. This is because in some communities true companionship is lacking and members feel lonely. The members further noted that continuous financial demands from the dioceses are straining and negatively impacting on the pastoral ministry.
2nd Day 6th October. Topic: Mission Today
On the second day, members reflected on the theme mission today with a special focus on community life, new trends in Mission, Personal and Private activity (individualism), Governance and authority in our Society, Formation and Funding of missions. These were discussed in small groups and reports were presented as below.
Members identified that internal unity of the missionary team is the core of the fruitfulness in mission. Thus, they stressed the need for mutual acceptance, adjustment, fraternal correction and openness to receive feedback from each other. Additionally, they highlighted the need to always plan the pastoral activities together as a team and to have community dynamics and process meetings frequently. They further emphasized the need for effective communication among the members of the team, regular community meetings, community prayers, community socials and meals as these lead to effective bonding among the members.
Governance and Authority
Under governance and authority, members highlighted the need for effective communication flow between the leadership of the society and the individual members and the missionary teams. This communication should be official (a call or an e-mail). The members noted that in many instances there has been a communication gap between the members and leadership thus there is a feeling of a lack of closeness and solidarity. Another concern raised by the members regards the lack of clarity in ways of operation and appointments/transfers of the members.
The members also noted the need for strategic planning as a guide to our missionary activities in the area. This strategic plan should be implemented and reviewed regularly. The members also highlighted the need for effective coordination between the local council and the general council and regular visits from both
Members highlighted the need for ongoing formation so as to be up to date with the daily changing dynamics of mission. There is also a need for the members to be open to take up any mission. The members unanimously agreed on the need to train and form them on specialized ministries such as Justice and Peace, Reconciliation, inter-religious dialogue, counselling psychology, small Christian community, among others.
They highlighted that the MEP coordinators should ensure that they visit the MEP students during the designated times so as to know the progress of the students in their experience.
The members raised concern about the online formation of our second cycle students of Pune which poses the question of their integral formation. Therefore, the leadership was called upon to look into the matter.
New Trends in Mission
Members noted that they are living in the new normal of Covid-19 pandemic. Therefore, new ways of evangelization are indispensable. The use of social media in evangelization comes to the fore. Members feel called to be missionaries to the digital world. They also acknowledged that there is tension between maintaining our identity and charism as Mill Hill missionaries and the sustainability of our missions. Therefore, it is important not to lose our identity and charism in taking on new missions. The mission today and the future requires more commitment to justice and peace, inter-religious dialogue, environmental conservation, reconciliation, family ministry among others.
DAY 3. 7th October; Recommendations to the General Council
The young members appreciated the financial support granted by the General Council to the missions which has facilitated the work of evangelization.
The following recommendations were made;
There is great need to send members for further studies in specialized ministries such as finance and administration, counselling psychology, justice and peace, inter-religious dialogue, etc. This will equip young members to be effective in mission and respond to the challenges of mission today.
Online formation of our second cycle Pune should be quickly re-evaluated so as to attain the integral formation of our members.
In taking up new missions and in expansion of missions there is need to maintain our identity and charism, notwithstanding the question of sustainability.
Members awaiting visas to the countries of appointment in case of delay should be given temporary appointments.
Internationality in appointments should always be maintained for the withdrawal of members to their countries of origin affects our international identity in mission.
There is need for strategic planning and follow up to guide the society.
The leadership should maintain an effective communication with the members in order to avoid opaqueness in appointments. The local council and general council therefore need to coordinate for effective communication which should be official.
END of meeting AND visit of BISHOP LAGHO of Malindi Diocese
In conclusion, the young members meeting was fruitful. It was graced with the visit of bishop Willybard Lagho, the Local ordinary of Malindi diocese, who urged the young members to understand the changes taking place in mission/world and find ways of remaining relevant through pastoral/social analysis. He appreciated the work done by the Mill Hill Missionaries in the diocese and the continuous good working relationship. He also advised the young members of the need to be true witnesses and open to listen and work with each other no matter the differences. He shared a bit of his experiences as a priest and now a bishop. He urged members to always plan together the pastoral activities of the parish. He warned the members of the tendency to seek for personal security and materialism at the expense of mission. It was quite encouraging to all.
Joseph King Afumaboh