Mission is about more than bringing God’s love to people in far-off lands – it’s also about sharing God’s love with people closer to home, in our parishes and communities. It’s a responsibility for all Christians.
As we prepare to celebrate World Mission Sunday on October 18, and with the Plenary Council preparations and discernment underway, I believe there’s never been a more exciting time to be engaged in mission.
It’s a good time to really explore the Plenary Council theme of being a Christ-Centred Church that is Missionary and Evangelising. The SVD, as an order of missionaries, is really engaging in that and responding to it.
The Divine Word Missionaries is one of the 10 largest missionary religious congregations for men in the world with 6,000 members serving in 80 countries. We are celebrating their 100th anniversary in Australia this year.
The charism, or special characteristics of the order, is based around four pillars: the Biblical Apostolate; Communications; Mission Awareness and Animation; and Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation.
We are also known for our multiculturality and for our pastoral care of migrant communities, with a strong emphasis on working in multicultural parishes and celebrating cultures, as well as engaging in interfaith at the local level and a strong commitment to missiological and anthropological research.
While the SVD AUS Province trains young missionaries from all around the world to serve overseas, it has also recently been accepting the invitations of various bishops to administer parishes at home, especially in regional areas and areas of need.
And so we work with the vision of the local bishop and of course, the local people, but we also bring with us our own particular missionary focus and our charisms and our spirituality.
An SVD parish aims to be a welcoming Church where no-one is excluded, which fits in well with two of the Plenary Council themes: ‘A Welcoming and Merciful Church’.
We encourage strong lay collaboration in all spheres of parish life. And as well as the important focus on the Bible and the sacramental life of the parish, we also promote an eco-spirituality in our parishes, which might include the installation of solar panels, a commitment to recycling and using renewable energy.
We’re excited about the Plenary Council and also about the recent report prepared for the Bishops and baptised Catholics on Church Governance, The Light of the Southern Cross. These documents excite us as missionaries, to push the boundaries a little bit and see what the Spirit of the incarnate Word is asking of us now, in this place. It’s an exciting time to be part of the Church and we don’t want to be spectators, we want to be a part of it.
Yours in the Word,
Fr Asaeli Rass SVD,