AMERICA/COLOMBIA - Communities that welcome with joy: the key to missionary awakening

Tuesday, 2 April 2019 missionary animation   extraordinary missionary month   local churches  

Bogotá (Agenzia Fides) - “Baptized and sent. Missionary action in the context of the evangelizing process", is the title of the National Missionary Meeting held in Bogotá from 26 to 28 March, within the framework of a year of particular missionary commitment in preparation for the Extraordinary Missionary Month of October. More than 200 people including Bishops, vicars and mission delegates studied the context, the challenges and the keys to the missionary methodology and its pedagogy, working on the itineraries of Christian initiation and on the pastoral plans with regard to missionary activity.
"In addition to joyfully welcoming the Pope's appeal for the Extraordinary Missionary Month", explained Mgr. José Miguel Gómez, Bishop of Facatatá and President of the Commission for Evangelization and Faith of the Bishops' Conference, "the Colombian Church wanted to project herself in a mission that is prolonged in time and provokes the beginning of processes of formation in faith in all the country. Above all, it is an opportunity for everyone to enter the spirit that the Holy Father asks, which requires our baptism: to bring Jesus' proclamation everywhere".
"It was a missionary awakening", explains to Agenzia Fides Fr. Julio Herrera, Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS), of the diocese of Sincelejo, "a call to react in a missionary sense to everything that touches the fibers of being human, in all circumstances, on behalf of all the baptized". "The Pope - he continues - invites us to bring faith to the streets, and this is mission. This is what we want to do in Colombia", he concludes. The President of the Colombian Episcopate, Mgr. Oscar Urbina, Archbishop of Villavicencio, recalled, in the presentation of the Missionary Guide, that it is necessary to walk together, as a Church on mission and which goes forth, and retraced the history of the mission in Colombia, enlightened by saints like Saint Juan Eudes, Saint Laura Montoya, the venerable Mgr. Miguel Ángel Builes.
The key to "arouse the beginning of faith or conversion" or "to revive the lost faith and stimulate a new conversion" is for the Bishop of San José del Guaviare, Mgr. Nelson Cardona, the convincing, communal and personal testimony of the charity and joy that are expressed in welcoming and in the explicit proclamation of the Gospel. "Charity is to love as God loves, to love because God loves and to love what God loves", he stressed. "A joyful community is an appealing community". "Many people, seeing the testimony of the communities, come closer to asking why they live like this. The welcoming community therefore resolves their questions and accompanies them "in a slow but sure process, so that those who are touched by God can become "a new person", he said.
Mgr. Pedro Salamanca, Auxiliary Bishop of Bogotà, stressed that in Colombia "the people are hungry for God and this is an opportunity to announce the Gospel of Jesus Christ again". Faced with the challenges of secularization, materialism, the crisis of the transmission of values and the influence of the media, they appeared as keys to missionary methodology: the presence-witness, the search for new ways to evangelize even new sectors of population, intergenerational dialogue, encounter, presence and accompaniment of communities starting from "an attitude of dialogue, respect and humility". To foster the vital encounter with Jesus, indispensable for a missionary conversion, in addition to these aspects, accompaniment in painful circumstances, the joyful witness of Christian life, the kerygmatic experience and intercessory prayer were identified. The President of the Bishops' Conference, Mgr. Urbina Ortega, concluded the work of the National Meeting with an intervention in which he illustrated the challenges for evangelization in the Amazon. (SM) (Agenzia Fides, 2/4/2019)